Tozer Seeds introduced a series of new varieties during Fruit Logistica including a new peak-season hybrid celery, the new parsnip “Warrior F1”, as well as other products like kale, rocket and a bunching onion.
The British vegetable breeders debuted a new range of hybrid vegetables which were getting a lot of attention during the Berlin trade show last week.
According to sales and marketing manager, Robin Bartels, the new range is designed to enrich the supply chain, as each variety has its own range of benefits.
“For instance, the new peak-season “Hadrian F1” hybrid celery variety is darker, doesn’t bolt quickly and is highly resistant to Fusarium wilt,” he told PBUK during the event.
“Hadrian F1 is not so prone to producing side shoots and so growth is facilitated. It has fewer lateral shoots which makes it much easier to grow and to harvest.”
“Parsnips are gaining popularity all over the world and so we have the new variety “Warrior F1” which can be cultivated earlier in the season, is a white colour and has a higher level of canker resistance.”
Others products on display included the Cavolo Nero palm cabbage “Raven F1”, the bunching onion “TZ 7580” and the wild rocket variety “Saturn”.
“We specialise in a few keys products including hybrid celery, hybrid leek, kale and rocket, but we do a lot of other niche products like promoting Kalettes which is a cross between Brussels sprout and kale.
“The main new varieties that we are introducing this season include Hadrian, a hybrid celery, a new hybrid black cabbage which is a first for this show, otherwise known as Cavolo Nero, it’s a hybrid so you can plant more on a hectare, it’s a tidier product and it’s a one-cut plant which makes it very easy to harvest,” adds Bartels.
“We have a new bunching onion, a new rocket variety and a new parsnip variety and so there is quite a lot going on.”
Most of Tozer Seeds breeding work takes place in the UK, but there are also programmes in Australia, Spain and the US, explains Bartels. The programmes often go down different routes and carry out comparative trials, before making a lot of crosses until finally reaching the end goal or one or two of the best.
“We start choosing the best, say 50, we trial them again probably for a couple of years then slowly, slowly in the end we are left with one or two hopefully and they have to be better than the current assortment or compare against the varieties in the market. This is what we do with the contemporary assortment,” he says.
“We also work on a lot of niche products which are completely different from anything else in the market and that’s where we try to develop new markets, new initiatives and so on.”
Tozer Seeds has established operations in several different countries which means it can sell into Europe and the US. Bartels says the company is starting up in Asia and has an Australian branch.
“A lot of varieties are aimed at a European climate but then we see that they work in different areas as well. For instance with celery you really have to focus on bolting tolerance and the different disease pressures you’ve got in different areas of the world, which is what we look at as well when we trial in different areas.
“Some varieties may prove more suitable for America, for example, than for Europe. For example, we have a celery variety called “Victoria” which is very good for northern Europe, while “Monterey” is better for southern Europe and then we have “Julius TZC 5072”, a new variety which is now growing in Spain.”
The biggest production areas for celery are in the UK, Spain, Poland and Tozer Seeds focus on these areas in terms of its breeding efforts.
What’s in a name?
PBUK asks about the naming process, where the ideas spring from and how Tozer Seeds goes about naming its new varieties.
“Coming up with the names is an interesting process; sometimes its internal competition which is great,” explains Bartels.
“We also have a series of names which we can dip into and pick one. With the rocket variety we were really looking at space as a theme, and so we have the new variety “Saturn” and others like “Voyager”.
And speaking about expectations for rocket, Bartels adds how mildew tolerance is a hot topic right now as Tozer Seeds is developing a multitude of resistant varieties every year.
“It’s not a specific mildew strain that we’re working on; we’re really looking at field tolerance, and that’s increasing now year on year.
“For the growers it will be a big advantage in spraying less and actually having a crop that is clean.
“In terms of hybrid leeks, there has been a big programmes for us in the last 15 years and we are coming up with varieties that are now better and better and are market worthy for both the fresh market and the industry. However, we’re up against very strong competition.”
Meanwhile Bartels says there is renewed interest in kale.
“I think it’s a product that has been undervalued in the UK for a long time. In Holland for example, it’s a very old fashioned product and people use it in winter dishes; I’ve been eating it since I was kid.
“Because of the popularity in the last five years in the U.S. it’s come out more now in the UK in black cabbage, sliced kale and so on.
“Our product Kalettes was very popular in the UK, then it went to the US after it was developed in the UK, and then it came back to Europe because of the promotional strength and the reach of American companies.”