T R DI H S I D
SOUTH PACIFIC SEEDS
SPOTLIGHT ON SQUASH CELERY, LEEK & CELERIAC ABIOTIC STRESS FACTORS EXPLAINED
BRASSICAS & ICEBERG LETTUCE
PLUS SEED INNOVATIONSTM
ENSURING THE SAFETY OF PESTICIDES WITHIN NEW ZEALAND
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My parents recently returned from a holiday in Europe. My father was raving about these “new” lettuces he had been eating the entire time he was away – “Little Gem” cos. They were buying them in a three pack from the supermarkets and it would appear Dad was devouring them as a snack. I had to break it to my father that in fact mini cos was nothing new and was being sold in New Zealand and had been for some time. He was shocked that he wasn’t aware but no doubt added them to their weekly shopping.
NOLEY CHARLOTTE IRCOECNTO R
D MANAGING email@example.com 7 67 1 30 021
Keeping in mind that my father is very near 70 years old and a semi-retired South Island sheep and cattle farmer – not that I am making stereotypes but there isn’t too much need for a Little Gem cos in the Hakataramea Valley. This has had me thinking. The 5+aday campaign which we are very proud to support and supply vegetable seed for their education resources does a great job along with United Fresh and many other organisations such as vegetables.co.nz to promote vegetable consumption to the New Zealand public. However, further from that is considering how we promote to vegetable consumers to try new vegetable types.
South Pacific Seed Sales (NZ) Ltd 12 Alpito Place ∙ PO Box 804 Pukekohe 2340 Phone +64 9 239 0890 Freephone 0800 77 22 43 firstname.lastname@example.org www.spsnz.com
Scan me GLEN HAYNES
NORTHLAND, AUCKLAND, WAIKATO, BAY OF PLENTY 021 300 677 email@example.com
STEVE McCRAITH FRANKLIN 021 540 677 firstname.lastname@example.org
I myself am guilty of not fully exploring the vegetable offering. Recently whilst judging the Young Vegetable Grower of the Year one of our joint winners, Austin Singh, presented his marketing module on kohlrabi and had brought in some product for us to sample. Whilst we do sell kohlrabi I had in fact never tried it. Getting back to the South Island sheep and beef reference - having been brought up in this environment I am a great fan of the swede and turnip straight from the paddock. Many a trip south to visit customers in Southland has seen me boarding the flight home with a couple of giant swedes as hand luggage. So I was rather surprised to discover that kohlrabi is in fact a little like swede in flavour and texture. With three young boys, four and under, I am always looking for new ways to get more veggies into these mini people, and so now kohlrabi cut into dipping sticks along with some hummus feature for our snacks. This then had me thinking what other vegetables we sell that I have never brought myself or cooked with. These include – fennel, celeriac, spaghetti squash and kumi kumi. So as I am now taking a period of parental leave at home with our newest addition (4 weeks old as I write this) I may in fact use the time to tick these other vegetables off the list and may be surprised to find some new favourites for the family.
GISBORNE 021 242 6019 email@example.com
CENTRAL & LOWER NORTH ISLAND 029 771 0677 firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH ISLAND 021 301 650 email@example.com
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2 News & Events
Abiotic stress factors 12 explained
Healthy seed, healthy cultivation
Spotlight on squash
Brassicas & iceberg lettuce
Celery, Leek & Celeriac
DISCLAIMER Descriptions, recommendations and information provided are based on an average of data and observations collected from our trials, and shall correspond as closely as possible to practical experience. This information shall be provided to assist professional growers and users, whereby variable local conditions must be taken into account. Significant variations may occur in the performance of products due to a range of conditions including cultural/ management practices, climate, soil type and geographic location. Under no circumstances shall South Pacific Seed Sales (NZ) Ltd accept liability based on such information for deviating results in the cultivated product. The Purchaser shall itself determine whether the items are suitable for the intended cultivation and whether they can be used under local circumstances. www.spsnz.com | 01
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2019 EVENTS SEPTEMBER
4TH - 6TH
ASIA FRUIT LOGISTICA - ASIAWORLD-EXPO HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT LANTAU, HONG KONG www.asiafruitlogistica.com
OCTOBER 1ST - 2ND YOUNG GROWER OF THE YEAR FINAL ASB BAYPARK, MT MAUNGANUI www.younggrower.co.nz
17TH - 19TH
PMA FRESH SUMMIT ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA, USA www.pma.com
RACE RELATIONS COMMISSIONER ANNOUNCED AS MENG FOON Retiring Gisborne mayor Meng Foon has been appointed the new Race Relations Commissioner more than a year after Dame Susan Devoy left the role. Meng Foon will take up his new appointment on August 26 and will be responsible for leading the work of the Human Rights Commission in promoting positive race relations. He is fluent in te reo Maori, Cantonese and English and is understood to be the only New Zealand mayor fluent in te reo.
17TH - 18TH
FUTURE FOOD-TECH LONDON www.futurefoodtechlondon.com
CALL TO PLANT TREES TO
TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE
Scientists at the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich in Switzerland have called on policymakers and environmentalists to plant trees to mitigate climate change. In their latest study the researchers show where in the world new trees could grow and how much carbon they would store. Lead author Jean-François Bastin commented, “One aspect was of particular importance to us as we did the calculations: we excluded cities or agricultural areas from the total restoration potential as these areas are needed for human life.” Under current climate conditions, the researchers say the earth’s land could support 4.4 billion hectares of continuous tree cover; 1.6 billion more than the currently existing 2.8 billion hectares. Of these 1.6 billion hectares, 0.9 billion hectares of land is not currently used by humans. In other words, an area of the size of the US is available for tree restoration. Once mature, these new forests could store 205 billion tonnes of carbon: about two thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the Industrial Revolution. Prof. Thomas Crowther, co-author of the study, commented, “We all knew that restoring forests could play a part in tackling climate change, but we didn’t really know how big the impact would be. Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today. But we must act quickly, as new forests will take decades to mature and achieve their full potential as a source of natural carbon storage.” Photo Caption: The study shows where trees can be planted around the world so as not to interfere with urban or agricultural areas.
Photo Credit: The Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich www.hortnews.com
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ON THE AGENDA AT THE ISF WORLD SEED CONGRESS 2019 Sustainability stood out as the most important question of the day at this year’s biggest gathering of seed professionals. During the recent ISF World Seed Congress 2019 in Nice, France, where nearly 1,700 delegates from 63 countries participated earlier this month, the topic of sustainability was the main thread running through the meetings and discussions among business leaders and stakeholders – in particular how the seed sector must sustain innovation in a socially accepted manner in order to respond to current global food challenges. Eduard Fito, president of ISF, says, “I cannot imagine this business without innovation. Whether we like it or not, agriculture around the globe faces new challenges every day. That is why it is important that we always remember to safeguard innovation as the foundation on which our sector stands, enabling us to continue delivering value to farmers.”
TRIFECTA OF BOYS
The International Seed Federation (ISF) drew attention to the sector’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is a
Beau Kenneth Connoley Born Sunday 2nd June 2019 Charlotte, Rob, Mack and Finn welcomed a baby brother, congratulations Connoley Family.
FEDERATION OF NZ CHINESE COMMERCIAL G R O W E R S CONFERENCE AND DINNER 2019 D2D SPRING 2019.indd 5
Every year South Pacific Seeds has great pleasure in supporting the Dominion Federation of NZ Chinese Commercial Growers conference and dinner as Platinum sponsors. We also provide goodie bags for the conference and goodies for the table door prizes! This year was the 77th Annual conference.
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Cucurbita is a genus native to the Americas that encompasses melons, cucumber and a wide range of squash. Stunningly diverse in shape and colour, squash is an increasingly popular fruit group and a trendy one at that! Squash market growth in recent years has resulted in a wide consumer base. This has resulted in different demands in regard to the type of squash, shape and fruit quality. Summer squash breeders have accounted for consumer preferences by investing in a variety of trials across a range of climates. Traditionally dark green, cylindrical zucchini have dominated the market particularly across North America and the Mediterranean. Now, with a growing demand and consumer base, markets in the Middle East, Europe and parts of Asia are moving towards tapered squash. These fruit are light green or pale in colour with a shorter, rounder stem at the blossom end. In specialty markets fruit may also be sold with the flower still attached to add extra value to the product.
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Popularity; Plant based, alternative food products are now an emerging market segment. Consumers have become more conscious of where their food is grown, how it is produced and the impact this has on the environment! While a variety of squash can be seen in the market, the versatility of the fruit to be transformed into a low carb substitute for pasta or noodles is largely responsible for its increasing popularity. They might sound creative, but spiralised vegetable products such as courgetti and zoodles are gaining traction. These products are now much more common place and are available as pre-packaged convenience products in supermarkets! As modern generations continue to place greater emphasis on the nutritional value of their food choices more and more vegetable based alternatives will continue to hit the shelves. Presumably the vegetable industry will continue to leverage this changing view point and build interest around novelty products such as these.
The Squash Family Cucurbita Mixra Zucchini (courgette) Tapered/Bulbous
Grey Mexican Greyzini Yellow Gem
While Summer squash plays an important role globally, Winter squash which includes the ever-popular pumpkin and butternut is equally relevant. Both types of squash share a close genetic link however are set apart by stage of harvest and consumption. Summer squash is typically faster maturing with smaller fruit. It is best consumed several days from harvest. Winter squash is also produced in the warm season but produces later maturing fruits, with a thick exterior, larger size and dense orange-yellow flesh. Mature fruit is harvested and often put into storage to be consumed over the cooler months. This type of squash is equally versatile and is currently marketed as a fresh, frozen, powdered and pureed product! Of these four divisions Cucurbita pepo. is the species with perhaps the greatest monetary value of the genus as it contains the most genetically diverse range of fruit types. Article by Kate Maclean References; Enza Zaden. (2019, January). Opportunities for Diversity: Summer Squash. The Partnership, 15,(1), 4-7 Paris, H.S. (2008). Summer Squash. In J.Prohens & F Nuez (Eds.), Handbook of Plant Breeding (pp 351-379). New York, NY: Springer www.spsnz.com | 05
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CELERY VALIANT VALIANT is a hybrid celery variety with high vigour, ideal for harvesting in the cool from mid Autumn and on through the cold and wet of Winter. VALIANT produces dense, heavy bunches with medium to long petioles giving an excellent presentation in the crate and allowing for ease of packing. VALIANT is extremely uniform with even petiole length throughout the bunch and excellent colour. VALIANT is not suited to the bolting period due to its high vigour. VARIETY FEATURES • Dark green petiole colour • Finely ribbed petiole texture • Vigorous plant habit
CHARGER CHARGER is a dark green, vigorous celery for harvesting in the cool of late Autumn/ Winter and early Spring. A direct replacement for Falcon, CHARGER has many of the attributes of its predecessor, it has finely ribbed, highly uniform petioles, is strong against cracking at the knuckles and shows strong tolerance to Septoria spotting. Although not quite as tall as Falcon, bunches of CHARGER are heavier. VARIETY FEATURES • Dark green petiole colour • Finely ribbed petiole texture
• Vigorous plant habit
EAGLE EAGLE is a dark green celery suited to cool season harvest from late Autumn through Winter. With a compact and attractive bunch shape, EAGLE is high yielding forming very heavy bunches with a high number of petioles. EAGLE has very uniform petiole lengths and fine to medium sized ribs. EAGLE shows strong tolerance to Septoria leaf spot and is strong against cracking, especially in late Autumn when pressure is high. EAGLE is an excellent variety to run alongside Charger for harvest in the cooler months, being slightly later to size. VARIETY FEATURES • Dark green petiole colour • Medium ribbed petiole texture • Vigorous plant habit
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LEEK & CELERIAC
CHINOOK is a high quality and versatile hybrid leek best suited to early and main season production. Producing leeks with long, straight shanks and a dark green fan, CHINOOK is highly uniform resulting in an excellent harvest on the first pass.
Being slightly later to mature than Chinook, TAKRIMA is well suited for harvest from late Summer through to the Winter and will produce marketable leeks of excellent quality.
GOLIATH is a very productive variety for Autumn and Winter harvest with a medium upright leaf. GOLIATH is suited to the fresh market, beginning as an early bunching crop in the Winter when the leaves die back.
CHINOOK is strong against bolting and yet has good vigour, growing quickly even under cold conditions and low light. During harvest CHINOOK will clean without difficulty and its compact and upright fan ensures ease of packing with attractive presentation in the crate. VARIETY FEATURES
TAKRIMA is an incredibly uniform main season hybrid that will also perform later into the season. With superior harvest ability, shank and fan quality, TAKRIMA produces easy to peel shafts with good length and an attractive dark blue/green fan. VARIETY FEATURES • Main-late season variety • Medium-long shank length
• Early-main season variety
• Upright and compact fan
A quality variety that is also high yielding, GOLIATH is an adaptable variety with a wide harvest window. Producing round bulbs and deeply seated roots, GOLIATH is easily harvested and cleaned for market. GOLIATH has excellent internal qualities with the firm flesh remaining white if used for processing. VARIETY FEATURES • Large bulb size
• Long shank length
• Strong vigour
• Upright and compact fan
• Early and main season production
To request commercial seed or a sample for your evaluation of these varieties please contact the SPS office on
0800 77 22 43
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GEARING UP FOR FUTURE CIRCUMSTANCES
For the western part of Europe, 2018 was a memorable year for meteorologists: an unusual long period of drought, hot weather and a record number of warm days over 20 degrees Celsius. One can argue about the cause, but most will agree that the world climate is changing. For growers, periods with extreme weather is yet another challenge to deal with.
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To be able to feed a world inhabited by some 10 billion people in 2050, agricultural production needs to double, with a reduced input of fertilizer. At the same time, growing crops will be exposed to more extreme weather conditions, and those crops need to be grown in areas where fresh water might become increasingly scarce. Although, at first sight, a bleak future, researchers and breeders are gearing up to provide the high yielding varieties that will still be able to thrive under these circumstances.
ABIOTIC STRESS FACTORS “Selecting vegetables for resistance to many different kinds of pathogens, so-called biotic stress, has been and will remain the major focus of much of the breeding activities,” explains Manager Research and Applications Gert-Jan de Boer. “But research and breeding activities will also encompass more attention towards creating new varieties that can withstand abiotic stress such as climate extremes.” Abiotic stress or non-living factors that have an adverse effect to plant growth and development, include amongst others high and low temperatures, salinity, lack of essential minerals like phosphate starvation, drought and flooding. De Boer: “These factors might have overlapping effects on the vitality of the plant, but their effect can also be very (crop) specific. Increasing salinity of the soil or water, for example due to large-scale irrigation, has a greater impact on Cucurbitae species than for example on tomato. In fact, some species related to tomato, such as S. pennellii, turn out to actually benefit from living on high saline soils. Although, these types of so-called halophytic species have long held much promise to increase salt tolerance in crop plants, very little progress has been achieved.”
SALT TOLERANCE Plant salt tolerance has long been studied in model species such as Arabidopsis (thale cress), which is also a salt sensitive species. A number of genes from this plant play a crucial role in the uptake of sodium from the soil. Reducing the activity of some of these genes, like SOS 1,2 & 3 & HKT1, results in improved tolerance or hypersensitivity to salt. “In a collaborative study with researchers from the University of Amsterdam, we discovered that an increase in salt tolerance of lettuce could be achieved by introducing genes from a wild lettuce species, namely L. serriola, and that the HKT1 gene from this species was amongst one of them.”
COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH Although tomato is able to withstand higher levels of salt than many other vegetable crops, it also has its Achilles heel with respect to abiotic stresses. This weak spot is exposure to prolonged periods of high temperatures. Elevating the temperature above 31 degrees Celsius during the day and 25 degrees at night is sufficient to significantly reduce the fruit set of most commercial tomato cultivars. “This is due to a reduction in the number of pollen formed and a decrease in viability of the pollen.
An effort to identify tomato cultivars that are more tolerant to these higher temperatures, with the help and expertise of researchers from the Radboud University in Nijmegen, resulted in the identification of a number of interesting cultivars and strategies that tomato plants can apparently employ to set fruits and produce seeds under high temperatures. The research on this topic has now reached a phase where the laboratory can be exchanged for field experiments and where, similar to a relay race, the baton can now be picked up by molecular researchers at Enza Zaden to screen for heat tolerant genetics and breed new varieties using this information.”
ROS One overlapping theme between many abiotic stresses, and even some biotic or pathogen induced stresses, is the accumulation of so-called reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS causes damage to many plant cell components including the DNA. Some herbicides, such as Paraquat – also known as methyl viologen –, function by inducing the formation of ROS species in plants. Since its effect is not restricted to plant cells, and they can also induce ROS in animal cells, the use of Paraquat has been banned in the European Union. When too much ROS is formed, plants can respond by the formation of antioxidants. Perhaps the best known antioxidants are anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are pigments that normally are formed in flowers or red grapes. These antioxidants are therefore also present in red wine. “Again in an effort to translate research from Arabidopsis towards vegetable species, we participated in a European Union funded project together with researchers from the German University of Potsdam and the Bulgarian University of Plovdiv. For this project, researcher Lorena Romero Prada performed experiments at Enza Zaden as part of her PhD project to investigate the factors that influence the tolerance or susceptibility for ROS in tomato and lettuce. Some of her work can directly be incorporated in new varieties we develop. Varieties that ultimately can withstand extreme weather conditions or other abiotic stresses.”
VARIETIES OF TOMORROW Our planet is changing rapidly and our varieties need to be able to be ready for this. In order to continue developing successful varieties, researchers team up with different universities and institutes to identify the genetics needed to grow the crops of tomorrow. “The success of future varieties will not only depend on characteristics of the variety such as yield, disease resistance and quality of the produce, but also on the flexibility of the plant to be able to grow and thrive under rapidly changing environmental conditions. Through various collaborative projects, researchers within Enza Zaden have been able to identify some of the genetic factors that we will need to breed for the varieties of tomorrow.”
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BORIS has become popular as a versatile and dependable variety for warm season harvesting. A large framed variety, BORIS produces a medium sized curd that ensures continued performance as the cool nights begin.
Producing a very upright frame FALKIS is easy to harvest with consistent wrapper leaves providing essential curd cover. A key feature of FALKIS is the vibrant white head colour giving excellent presentation for fresh market.
The number one performing broccoli throughout the country, BRUMBY has proven itself as not just the most heat tolerant variety available but has also shown its ability to perform in the variable conditions of early Summer and Autumn.
The well-formed wrapper serves to protect the curd from the elements – especially the extremes of heat at this time of year. BORIS consistently produces heavy, white curds. VARIETY FEATURES • Medium head size • White head colour • Excellent curd cover • Strong vigour • 11-12 weeks to maturity • Summer and Autumn harvesting
With good heat tolerance as well as adaptability to perform well into the Autumn period, FALKIS complements our existing warm season standard Boris with a much wider harvest window. Providing a uniform cut-out at maturity, FALKIS matures in approximately 12 to 14 weeks from transplant depending on harvest slot. VARIETY FEATURES • Vibrant white • Excellent curd cover • Medium-strong vigour • 12-14 weeks to maturity • Summer and Autumn harvesting
A powerful variety, BRUMBY has a large tall frame which serves the dual purpose of protecting the head from mid-Summer sun and providing vigour as the variety continues production into the cool Autumn evenings. Characteristics of BRUMBY include excellent holding ability, high recovery rate, versatility in weather extremes and an extremely wide harvest window. VARIETY FEATURES • Fine bead size • Green/blue head colour • Relative maturity 9-13 weeks • Summer and Autumn harvest Note: Normal and Performax seed available.
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For cooler weather harvest in the Autumn and Spring, CONTESSA produces dense heads of dark green colour. The plant habit is upright and the heads will sit up off the ground with a flat butt.
GLENDANA is a medium sized iceberg suited to mid-Summer harvest when bolting pressure is highest. GLENDANA is a traditional Salinas type iceberg and produces an extremely uniform crop. The heat tolerance of GLENDANA makes it ideally suited to very hot regions but its versatility is such that it also performs in cooler climates.
ORIOLA is a medium sized iceberg ideal for harvesting from early Summer and on through the hottest months. ORIOLA has a distinctive tightly wrapped frame made up of many layers of leaf. This serves to protect the head from both soil-borne diseases such as Sclerotinia and also gives good protection from sunburning.
GLENDANA has excellent internal characteristics with a dense heart and very low core. GLENDANA complements Oriola for a strong Summer iceberg programme.
While the heads of ORIOLA are fast to fill they also hold well in the field. ORIOLA is particularly well suited to the often difficult conditions of early Summer.
Uniform size and consistency of weight makes CONTESSA best suited to the variable conditions of Spring in more mild environments. A slightly smaller head size means CONTESSA is well suited to bagging. VARIETY FEATURES • Medium heads • Medium-large frame • Autumn and Spring harvest DISEASE RESISTANCES • High Resistance: BI:1-27,29, Nr:0 • Strong field tolerance to anthracnose
VARIETY FEATURES • Medium heads • Medium frame • Mid-Summer harvest DISEASE RESISTANCES
VARIETY FEATURES • Medium heads • Medium frame • Summer harvest DISEASE RESISTANCES High Resistance: BI:1-27,29, Nr:0
High Resistance: BI:1-31
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HEALTHY CULTIVATION Seed health is vitally important. Not only for growers, but also governments have strict phytosanitary rules and measures for seed importation. Why? Because pathogens on or in seeds can cause disease outbreaks, and countries obviously want to protect themselves against that. However, things are not as black and white as they first appear. “Seed pathology has one very clear objective: to ensure a good, disease-free start of crop cultivation at our customers, growers and distributors,” explains Senior Researcher Seed Pathology Gerbert Hiddink. He and his team do research on all aspects of seed-borne pathogens. Their primary task is to develop fast and efficient detection methods for seedborne pathogens. Hiddink: “If we find an organism on the seed, we have to decide what the risk is and give recommendations on how to deal with it. It is up to us to ensure that all the seed leaving Enza Zaden does not result in an outbreak of disease at the grower. In some cases, the disease that we detect does not pose any risk, for example because the pathogen is dead.”
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Pathogens There are many different pathogens: fungi, bacteria, viruses and viroids. These all have their own characteristics. Therefore, specific protocols have been developed for detection of these pathogens on or in the seed. Hiddink works closely together with other seed pathologists from other seed companies, test labs and governments. “Within the International Seed Health Initiative for Vegetable Crops (ISHI-Veg), we work together to develop, validate and publish protocols in a non-competitive way. Publication of developed seed health methods is very important for ISHI-Veg. This ensures harmonisation of testing methods and equal significance of test results between various labs globally. Of course it is not desirable if a test result from lab A differs from a test result on the same batch for the same pathogen in lab B. For sure for infected batches, but also for incorrectly rejected batches that don’t pose any risk of disease outbreak.”
Infection A pathogen can infect the seed in various ways during seed production. For example, virus infection can take place early on in the growing process. The virus then has enough time to spread through the entire plant and into the seed. While for a late infection the pathogen might not be able to enter the seed at all. After an early infection there is a major risk that the pathogen will then enter deep into the seed and is protected against seed treatments. And these seeds are the most dangerous ones for pathogen transmission.
Also we develop and implement hygiene protocols together with seed producers. The current state of the art is Good Seed and Plant Practices (GSPP) for the production of Clavibacter-free tomato seeds. We have implemented at GSPP-sites strict hygiene protocols, to ensure that we produce the healthiest possible seeds. This extra certainty offers great added value for our customers and for Enza Zaden.”
Tests, tests, tests All produced seeds are checked for presence of seed-borne pathogens when they are received. For the detection different techniques are used. In seed pathology we know direct and indirect tests. Indirect tests are based on finding RNA/DNA, virus capsids, etc. “This does give us an indication that an infectious or viable pathogen may be present, but we don’t yet know for certain. Some of these methods are so sensitive, that they can detect very small amounts of pathogen DNA or RNA, which has no biological relevance. Therefore, following a positive result for an indirect test, we always have to perform a second, direct test to confirm viability and pathogenicity.” A good example of a direct test is a grow-out. A part of the batch is grown in strict separation in our greenhouses, under conditions that would allow the disease to manifest. The researchers will then assess development of the symptoms. “If a young plant exhibits symptoms of disease in this situation, then it’s clear that the seed has been infected by a viable pathogen. Even if only one or a few plants is/ are sick, the batch is considered infected and cannot be released.”
Quick-test to confirm a suspect presence of a plant pathogen after finding a symptomatic plant
Where will these developments lead to in the future? Hiddink explains that a lot can still be achieved in the field of disease detection. Technologies such as PCR are becoming increasingly sensitive, but – as previously mentioned – this does not give all the information about the risk of a disease outbreak in that specific batch. “Whether a disease will take hold depends on a number of different factors. It is a combination of level of infection, climate and interactions between plant, pathogen and environment. We are conducting a lot of research to ensure that we take the correct decisions. This makes Enza Zaden an interesting partner in discussions about phytosanitary risks and control measures. But above all, this research will help to protect our customers’ crops and give them a disease free start."
Hygiene A pathogen can be on the seed, in the seed, or both. And for seed infection, infection has to take place during seed production. One could argue that the solution is obvious: do not harvest the seeds from diseased plants. Hiddink explains that this is not as simple as it sounds, because sometimes you cannot tell whether the plant is infected just by looking at it. “We are working closely with the Seed Production department to reduce the risk of infection during the seed production process. For example, we keep a close eye on the seed production crop during the cultivation by crop inspection and are performing leaf tests regularly. This allows us to detect any infection at an early stage and take measures to prevent further spread of diseases.
Corn salad seeds treated with different disinfection treatments www.spsnz.com | 13
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ENSURING THE SAFETY OF PESTICIDES WITHIN NEW ZEALAND
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A culture of trepidation about consuming foods which have been exposed to pesticides is misleading and has sparked much confusion of late. To abate the concerns, a breakdown of the process for getting products to market can reassure consumers that our most nutritious foods of fruits, vegetables and grains are safe to eat. This is reflected in the decade-long process which includes 11 years of research and hundreds of millions of dollars. At the start of the process, chemicals are tested for their effects on people and the environment. This testing is agreed at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) level. Regulators from OECD countries – including New Zealand – participate in designing, validating and issuing guidelines. The OECD has ten guidelines to assess the properties of crop protection products. This includes testing the efficacy of a molecule against the target pest or disease, its residue levels in plants and animals, and how the active ingredient breaks down in plants and livestock. New molecules undergo over 150 safety studies. For testing, concentrations are much higher than real world exposure. Internationally-agreed test methods cover effects on health, biotic systems and the environment. These are continuously revised with the latest scientific knowledge, practices and techniques. The safety tests can be thought of as an array of ‘gates’ or hurdles which a candidate molecule must pass. Some gates can be seen as critical pass/fail hurdles, others as alerts for further investigation. If a molecule is found to directly damage DNA, for example, then industry practice is to drop it – even if it demonstrates extraordinary levels of efficacy. The test guidelines are continuously revised according to new knowledge, technologies and practices. The rigour of the safety testing regime becomes more and more stringent. As a result, the number of molecules that need screening and the time it takes to find a suitable candidate are increasing rapidly. According to CropLife, it now takes 11 years and US$286 million (>NZ$400 million) to bring a single crop protection product to market. On top of this, regulators, importers and even supermarkets test produce for residues, ensuring they meet very strict guidelines, well below any potential risk to people or the environment. Legitimate crop protection manufacturers recognise that science leaves no stone unturned to ensure the safety of our environment, health and ecosystem from pesticides. So consumers can benefit from the nutrition of fruit, vegetables and grains at a reasonable cost, with the assurance that the products used to keep them pest free are stringently and continuously monitored. Mark Ross is chief executive of Agcarm www.agcarm.co.nz www.spsnz.com | 15
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