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Recently we attended a family wedding and some of the guests were good friends of ours. He works for Macquarie Group and she has worked many years in media/marketing with companies such as Xero and organisations like the Crusaders. Bottom line is they are smart people.


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They are relatively health conscious and knowing my profession they were very earnest in their need to discuss produce in NZ. They thought they were eating a healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit at the core of their meals and snacks. However, they were very concerned that what if what they thought was healthy was in fact not? They were particularly concerned if any of the produce contained GMO’s and were under the impression that all produce was heavily sprayed unless organic. GMO’s and the use of agrichemicals on our produce is a discussion I find commonly in amongst our friends and family and others who are not involved in the industry, and it is probably the single biggest question I am asked once people know I sell vegetable seed as a career. In our Summer edition my editorial spoke of the need for our industry and the companies within to be better at telling our story, and I think this really lies at the heart of the issues we have with these common misconceptions of our industry.

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I shouldn’t be surprised fielding these questions after 17 years in the industry, but I am still often left perplexed when people ask me if our produce is genetically modified. I normally stare incredulously at the person before responding “but it is prohibited to import GMO into NZ” (note: I am generalising here, best not to get into EPA approvals etc…). Living and breathing seed and import requirements as I do every day I have wrongly assumed that this very clear piece of information is well known by all of the New Zealand public when in fact the case is very few. I note back in February, Countdown launched into the foray of featuring some of their suppliers, our customers with their produce in an attempt to engage the consumer in feeling closer to the source of their food. Whilst this is great and we do have a good looking array of growers to showcase – perhaps they and the industry would be better focusing on how the produce is grown? It is GMO free, often grown as part of an IPM program, there are many more tools available to grower’s than just chemical for managing their crops. Like many of the primary industries under the spotlight for their environmental practices currently, we do have to be sure that if we are going to tell our story and the good things we are all doing that we can in fact back it up.


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2 News & Events





Technology helps 10 breeding move forward


Rockmelon & Summer crops

Kiwis get clarity from 12 country of origin food law

Increasing consumption of organic


Seed Innovations


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. | 01


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A new best practice manual developed in collaboration with Plant & Food Research, Vegetable Research & Innovation (VR&I) Board and the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand (FANZ) will help commercial vegetable growers and consultants make well-informed nutrient management decisions - both financially and environmentally. Guidelines in “Nutrient Management for Vegetable Crops in New Zealand” are drawn from published and unpublished research from the past three decades in New Zealand and overseas, providing industry with recommendations on the nutrient requirements of major vegetable crops grown nationally. Crops covered in the guidelines include: beans, beetroot, brassicas, carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, spinach, squash, sweet corn and process tomatoes. This book builds on the last comprehensive summary, “Nutrient Requirements of Horticultural Crops”, released in 1986 by Clarke et al. The new guidelines have been developed to help growers get the best out of their crops and money spent on nutrients, while addressing growing concerns about the environmental impacts of intensive production practices. The book, along with a companion volume that offers more detail and references, provides a scientific basis for good management of nutrients. The new guidelines were written collaboratively by Plant & Food Research Principal Scientist Dr Jeff Reid and Jeff Morton from MortonAg, with support from a working group consisting of Plant & Food Research scientists and experts from the major fertiliser companies and industry groups. Major funders include the VR&I Board and FANZ. The project was also supported by the Plant & Food Research Strategic Science Investment Fund. A series of follow-up extension events are being planned for the regions where vegetable production is a major land use.

STAR SHINES LIGHT ON GARDEN TO TABLE, IN NEW SEASON DANCING WITH THE STARS NZ ON THREE. National food education charity Garden to Table provides primary school students with essential, hands-on skills so they can grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh food. The curriculum-integrated programme provides broad learning opportunities and empowers self-sufficiency, resilience and self-worth amongst primary-school-aged children. Nadia has chosen to support Garden to Table as her charity as funds raised will enable more students to learn essential food-based life skills. Garden to Table currently operates in 176 primary schools throughout Aotearoa, positively impacting around 23,000 children across years three to six, but there are a further 238,448 children from 1,821 schools who are currently missing out. Nadia says, “The health and wellbeing of our communities is one of my greatest passions and I would love to help arm every child with the skills to access and love fresh nutritious food, no matter their circumstances - I see it as a fundamental right of every child. On top of that, I believe the mental health benefits from getting outside, connecting with nature and getting away from screens are just as important as the nutrition benefits. Teaching kids to love gardening and cooking is absolutely one way that we can give them skills to help look after their mental wellbeing both throughout their childhood and beyond into their adult life.”

YOUNG VEGETABLE GROWER OF THE YEAR 2019 For the second year in a row, there are two winners of the Young Vegetable Grower of the year competition, with Austin Singh Purewal and Craig Botting both being crowned champions at a gala dinner in Pukekohe. Second place/runner up overall goes to Sean Cannady from A.S. Wilcox. The day-long competition saw entrants compete in a series of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test the skills needed to run a successful vegetable growing business, from squash and onion quality control to tractor proficiency. The awards were finalised after a speech competition, where the seven contestants spoke about growing in a climate of change. First prize for speech went to Jaeseung Lee, from Superb Herb.




Genevieve Griffin-George is the founder of PICMI – a cloud-based software designed to simplify the employment process for agricultural seasonal staff. PICMI was developed following Griffin-George's involvement in the six-month, intensive tech accelerator programme Xcelerate last year, where her concept was chosen as one of 12 from 600 applicants. The web-responsive app was conceived after she experienced first-hand the pain of hiring and managing seasonal staff, having unexpectedly taken over management of her family's kiwifruit orchard at Brooklyn, near Motueka. Griffin-George said the main aim of PICMI was making the lives of growers and farmers easier by easing the process of finding the staff that they need, providing digitised access to visa verification and employment paperwork. Growers pay a nominal amount per match, while workers seeking employment can access it for free. Having successfully trialled the software with two local growers, Griffin-George said her next challenge was securing her first paid customers.

"The thing is, PICMI is something that isn't just going to impact farmers and growers in NZ - it's a global issue - there was a lot of interest when I was developing it in Australia, they'd be like 'why don't you start here?' but I wanted to help the community at home first because it's what I've seen. New Zealand is the perfect place to test it, but Australia and the UK, it's something that they're incredibly worried about as well - especially with Brexit and the USA with their migrant workers, part of the programme is we do Visa verification. Everyone who is on our platform is verified and can actually work in New Zealand legally.� "The client demand, you've got to get that right," Griffin-George said. "This is why starting in the Tasman region [is good] - it's a region that people want to travel to - to come to the Abel Tasman and plan their holiday, and rather than making the work really difficult to find, we're helping them plan with their adventure around New Zealand."



Plant breeding has existed for centuries and the traditional techniques still form the foundation of the process. Yet the field has really taken off in recent decades. Increased knowledge and new techniques have a major impact on the development of vegetable varieties. Techniques that allow us to measure characteristics quickly and develop good varieties. If you want to compete in plant breeding at a professional level in today’s world, then high-tech laboratories are essential. The breeder still plays a leading role in the development process towards new varieties, but lab technicians provide the required input to speed up the process and make it more efficient. It is now commonplace to accelerate the breeding process by three or four generations.

From 10, to 100, to 1000 “Not so long ago, we would have about ten plant characteristics on which we could test a hybrid,” explains Manager Molecular Markers Mike Heimerikx. “That soon become one hundred and we are now well on our way to a thousand.” These are marker tests that allow the scientists to analyse the plant material for a certain characteristic. Will the sweet pepper turn red or yellow on the plant? Will the tomato be round or plum-shaped? These characteristics of a plant are known long before the first fruit appears on the plant. And the number of characteristics of a plant that scientists can analyse is only increasing.

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Switching between breeding and labs With the increased knowledge and available techniques, the role of the laboratories has increased strongly. It is striking to note how the disciplines have merged towards each other in recent years. No doubt the Biotech Breeders had a hand in this. “Biotech Breeders are the link between the breeding process and the various laboratories,” explains Biotech Breeder Cucumber Karin van Langen. “The breeders hear from the Sales department what the needs of a certain market are. Or the breeder contacts the market himself. Either way, the market determines the direction and the breeders translate this wish into specific characteristics in their cross-breeding schemes. They then ask us to perform plant analyses, which they can use to set up the schedules as efficiently as possible and accelerate the plant selection.”

Gathering momentum It sounds simple, but nothing is further from the truth. First, the scientists need to track down where a certain characteristic is located on the DNA and – considering the size of DNA – that is a complicated and lengthy process. And in the case of a disease resistance or fruit colour, this is still a ‘simple’ characteristic that corresponds to a single gene in the DNA. In reality, a series of genes often determines these characteristics. This does not make the research any easier. Heimerikx: “After testing for certain characteristics, we can also use thousands of markers per plant to ‘map’ the DNA. Markers are like flags on the DNA which allow us to compare the progeny of a cross to the parent. These markers provide essential information for plant breeders to make choices in the selection process. We have been using these techniques for a number of years and the speed at which we can unravel (parts of) the DNA is increasing all the time. As a result, this technique has really gathered momentum. And the train keeps moving faster. 10,000 tests, 50,000 tests, why not map all the DNA? The possibilities seem endless.”

DNA package Imagine that you have a fantastic variety, but it is lacking a certain characteristic, for example a certain flavour structure. We know from previous research that the structure that we are looking for in the DNA consists of a specific series of data points. The breeder then crosses the original variety with the plant that has this flavour structure as a characteristic. The DNA of the progeny is then studied. Van Langen: “I then inform the lab that I am looking for a plant that is as similar as possible to that one plant, but that a specific ‘DNA package’ needs to be identical to that of the other plant. We are effectively looking for a specific ‘fingerprint’.”

Next generation Even though these techniques were introduced recently, the next generation is approaching rapidly. Van Langen: “Until now, this technique focused on the measurement of characteristics, but the next generation of techniques will predict the characteristics. Using today’s techniques, it is not very expensive to map the entire DNA sequence of an organism. This presents new possibilities. For example, by comparing the DNA of one crop to that of another crop, we can discover a certain pattern that points to a specific characteristic. We can then use this for other crops too.” Although the first steps towards using this technique have already been taken, this process is still in the very early stages. However, it does demonstrate how quickly the developments are taking place.

Hybrids The acceleration of laboratory activities is not only limited to the efficient selection of characteristics. In recent years, significant progress has been made on another important point. In many Western countries, growers have already switched from open pollinated (non-hybrid) varieties to hybrids for most crops and this is also happening in other regions. “Hybrids offer greater certainty about growth, quality and productivity,” explains Mark Buimer, Manager Cell & Tissue Culture. “In short: hybrids are the result of two pure parent lines that ensure that all progeny – the seed that we sell – are identical and we know exactly

which characteristics they will have.” A pure parent line is not easy to achieve and requires several generations of self-pollination. By using the double haploid technique – in which a pollen grain grows into a plant – the cell and tissue culture laboratory can create a pure parent line in a single generation. That is a great improvement in efficiency. Whilst the technique is used as a method to generate parent lines of different varieties quickly, for other varieties it has become extremely useful in the selection phase of the breeding process. “The progeny of hybrids always result in a ‘diverging population’,” explains Crop Research Manager Pepper Wouter Lindeman. “This means that some of the progeny have characteristics that do not resemble either of the parent lines. They form a grey middle area. Thanks to DH, we can avoid this grey area and perform selection much more effectively. In the case of the commercial varieties for glasshouse cultivation of sweet pepper, we are increasingly seeing that one of the parents has been developed using DH techniques.”

Incubator Cell & Tissue Culture is another technique and this offers the breeder a different range of advantages. Lindeman: “In sweet pepper breeding this technique also proves valuable in ‘embryo rescue’. We cross lines from wild species in the Capsicum family with the cultivated variety Capsicum annuum. We do this partly due to the resistances that this material contains. Such crosses can result in what is basically a pre-term birth, but by growing the embryo under ideal conditions in a climate cell, it develops into a healthy plant. The climate cell basically acts like an incubator.”

Automation and bio information One thing is certain: there would be no breeding without the lab. The traditional breeding process as described in the nineteenth century still forms the foundation of the profession. However, increasing numbers of new techniques and disciplines – such as making the ‘invisible’ DNA visible and smart methods of setting up pure parent lines quickly – are ensuring that a good variety is produced more quickly. Heimerikx: “We are testing more and more plants and are also receiving more information per plant. Breeders are now faced with more data from which to select. This means that we also need automation and bio informatics to make optimum use of the new techniques and knowledge. Information systems to process all the analyses, to store and organise the data and to detect patterns quickly. Automation of the processes and bio informatics for the processing are disciplines that will really take off now and in the future.”

Rapid development - rapid new variety Van Langen also expects that some essential changes will take place in the future, considering the developments in recent years. This is particularly true due to the fact that this process is taking place at increasing speed. “However, with good scientists and a close collaboration with – among others – Wageningen University and KeyGene, we will always be leading the way in these developments. And that is essential, because the sooner we develop a good variety, the sooner our customer can set himself apart in his own market.” | 05

ROCKMELON ASTON ASTON is a sutured rockmelon for main season production. Producing large fruit with a small seed cavity, the fruit of ASTON have a deep salmon flesh colour with good firmness. The plant of ASTON has medium vigour with a high and concentrated fruit set resulting in good yields and fewer harvesting passes. The fruit are highly uniform with regards to size and shape and tolerates handling and shipping well. ASTON has an aromatic flavour and high sugar levels. VARIETY FEATURES


• Sutured fruit

• High Resistance: Fom:0, 1, 2

• Round-oval fruit shape

• Intermediate Resistance: Px, Gc

• 1.8 - 2.2kg fruit weight


EVERTON An outstanding rockmelon, EVERTON produces fruit of a larger size with excellent internal characteristics and eating quality. A high yielding variety, EVERTON produces a vigorous vine and sets the fruit close to the crown on the plastic keeping fruit clean and minimising fruit rots from contact with the soil. EVERTON has a concentrated fruit set and highly uniform fruit size and shape throughout the crop resulting in high numbers of tag one fruit. An attractive melon, EVERTON has a deep internal flesh colour and firm flesh with a sweet, aromatic flavour. VARIETY FEATURES • Sutured fruit • Oval fruit shape


• 1.6 -1.8kg fruit weight

INFINITE GOLDTM INFINITE GOLD is a Harper type rockmelon and has been bred for flavour, fruit quality and long shelf life (LSL) with a strong disease package of powdery mildew (Px) and fusarium (Fom). INFINITE GOLD is a highly adaptable variety and has shown very good tolerance to ground cracking. The non-sutured fruit have a full net and are produced on a vigorous vine, setting mostly on the crown. Highly uniform fruit size and shape in addition to high yield potential are key features of INFINITE GOLD. The fruit are large in size and can reach 12-14 Brix at correct maturity under favourable conditions. The flesh is firm with a dark orange colour and a small seed cavity. VARIETY FEATURES • Non-sutured fruit • Round-oval fruit shape • 1.5 - 1.7kg fruit weight

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DISEASE RESISTANCES • High Resistance: Fom:0-2, Px:1,2






FLORIN is from new genetics known as SuperSeedWare® which dramatically improves the vigour and quality performance of varieties with this gene type. FLORIN is therefore well suited to early season production, especially early plantings in colder or wetter soils. A medium-tall plant, the cobs of FLORIN have excellent husk cover and attractive flag leaves important for visual display at retail. Exceptional eating quality is a key feature of FLORIN and the hi-glow kernel ensures a cob with excellent colour.

STERLING is a standout variety for the production of main season, bicolour sweet corn. With very high tenderness and superior eating qualities, STERLING is an excellent variety for fresh market sales. STERLING produces an attractive cob with good tipfill and colour contrast of the yellow and white kernels. An adaptable variety with high yield potential, STERLING produces dark green husks with good cob protection that display well at retail.

A determinate tomato for ground cropping, LOJAIN has an outstanding disease package giving grower’s added insurance for a successful harvest of quality fruits. The fruit of LOJAIN are round in shape, very firm with a deep red colour and an average fruit weight of 150-180 grams. The plant of LOJAIN has strong growth and covers the maturing fruits well. LOJAIN is highly productive with excellent fruit set and is medium-early maturing.



VARIETY FEATURES • Maturity 88 days • Cob size 200mm x 50mm • Cob rows 16-18 DISEASE RESISTANCES High Resistance: Ps: Rp1G1

• Maturity 93 days

• Determinate plant habit

• Cob size 210mm x 50mm

• Large fruit size

• Cob rows 16-18

• Globe shaped fruit

DISEASE RESISTANCES High Resistance: Ps Intermediate Resistance: Et

Intermediate Resistance: Et

• Due to the determinate habit the plants do not require staking DISEASE RESISTANCES High Resistance: Va, Vd, Fol:0-1(EU), ToMV Intermediate Resistance: TYLCV

To request commercial seed or a sample for your evaluation of these varieties please contact the SPS office on

0800 77 22 43 | 07


COUNTRY OF ORIGIN FOOD LAW We’ve been campaigning for country-of-origin labelling (CoOL) because we think consumers have the right to know where their food comes from.

The minister also has the power to extend the standard to require labelling of other produce – not just fruit, veges and meat. We’ll be pushing for that to happen!


Our 2017 survey with Horticulture New Zealand found 71% of New Zealanders want mandatory country-of-origin labelling for fruit and vegetables. Only 9% were opposed.

It’s taken more than a decade but the first steps towards better country-of-origin labelling have been taken. The Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Act was passed into law on 28 November 2018. The act means country-of-origin labelling will become mandatory for fresh or frozen fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and seafood.

WHEN WILL CHANGES TAKE EFFECT? The act requires the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to issue a consumer information standard setting country-of-origin labelling requirements. The standard will apply to fresh produce six months after it’s issued and to frozen produce in 18 months.


Survey results also confirm the existing voluntary approach to labelling isn’t giving consumers the facts they need to make informed choices. Sixty-five percent of shoppers said they looked for labelling information when they bought fresh fruit. But less than a third (32%) always found it. Even fewer (29%) always found the information when they bought fresh veges. Country-of-origin labelling is already mandatory in many other countries. At least 50 countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, have mandatory labelling requirements



With the exception of wine, New Zealand law doesn’t require the country of origin of food and drinks to be disclosed to shoppers.

We believe consumers have a right to know where their food comes from so they can make informed choices. Our survey shows many consumers want to buy local produce. Some also want to reduce the food miles on the food they eat and avoid certain countries for ethical reasons such as workers’ rights.

WHY DON’T WE HAVE CoOL? In 2005, the government opted out of joining Australia in mandating CoOL under the Food Standards Code on the grounds it would be an impediment to trade. The government and some big export players in the dairy and meat industry argued a voluntary system was a better option. But many of the countries we trade with require CoOL.

IS THE VOLUNTARY SYSTEM EFFECTIVE? Our latest survey shows the voluntary system isn’t working for consumers. Shoppers have a poor experience when they want to find out where their food comes from. A voluntary system also means there’s no independent monitoring or enforcement. When labels are provided, the information can be meaningless. When we checked country of origin statements on 81 packets of frozen berries and veges, 21% had vague statements they were “made or packed in New Zealand from local and/or imported ingredients” or “packed in New Zealand from imported ingredients”.






Manufacturers claim they’ll need tracking systems and label changes will increase costs to consumers. But they should already have systems to track where their products come from. Manufacturers often change packaging for marketing promotions — and many countries they export to demand CoOL — so we don’t buy the cost argument. 08 |

The government has argued labelling is not a food safety issue because border controls already provide protection from unsafe products. But border controls aren’t foolproof. Venomous spiders found in imported Mexican grapes are one example.

70% agreed or strongly agreed buying NZ-grown fruit and veges is important to them. A slightly higher proportion (72%) agreed it’s important for them to know where their fruit and veges come from and that country of origin labelling is important to them.

Consumers are more likely to look for country of origin information when buying fresh fruit and veges. Specifically, 65% look for country of origin information when buying fresh fruit and 60% do so when buying fresh veges. Five out of seven Kiwis think it should be mandatory for fruit and vegetable retailers to display country of origin information. Regular buyers of fresh fruit and veges are more likely to share this opinion.

Of those who look for country of origin information when buying fresh fruit, less than a third said they always find it; even fewer (29%) said they always find this information when buying fresh veges.







CHOPSTICK Similar in appearance to tatsoi, CHOPSTICK is a more vigorous variety suitable for year round production but is particularly suited to cold season production. CHOPSTICK is extremely reliable and the thick leaves provide an excellent addition to salad mixes giving extended shelf life. CHOPSTICK produces very uniform leaves with glossy, dark colour. High yielding, CHOPSTICK has good regrowth after cutting and shows good tolerance to downy mildew. VARIETY FEATURES • Dark green leaf colour • Green stem colour • Oval leaf shape • Smooth leaf margins • Erect growth habit AGRONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS • Best results obtained from high population sowings particularly for machine harvested crops • Field tolerance to downy mildew

INCA INCA is red elk type for babyleaf salad production. INCA differs from Red Antler in that it is coloured on both sides of the leaf and has a thicker leaf due to slightly slower growth making it an ideal warm season variety. Although particularly suited to warm season, INCA can be grown year round and provides better shelf life than many standard mustard products. INCA provides colour and texture to salad mixes and the leaf shape gives good bulk to pillow packs. INCA has a mild brassica flavour and is not over powering. VARIETY FEATURES • Dark red leaf colour • Dark red stem colour • Lobed leaf shape • Serrated leaf margins • Erect growth habit AGRONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS • Best results obtained from high population sowings particularly for machine harvested crops • Best results obtained when grown in warmer conditions


RED RUBY RED RUBY is a more vigorous Blush selection, suitable for year round inclusion in salad mixes with a particular advantage in the cool and cold due to extra vigour. RED RUBY has an intense, deep red colour on both the upper-side and under-side of the leaf. The high vigour of RED RUBY ensures faster and more even harvesting and the thick leaf ensures good weight while a slight cupping at maturity ensures bulk when used as a bagged product. VARIETY FEATURES • Dark red leaf colour • Dark red stem colour • Oval leaf shape • Smooth leaf margins • Vigorous, upright growth habit AGRONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS Best results obtained from high population sowings particularly for machine harvested crops

• Strong tolerance to bolting

BEETS AND CHARD FOR BABYLEAF PRODUCTION: The salad market is a constantly evolving one and while spinach sales continue to increase growers are always looking for other lines to include that bring with it a relative ease of production that spinach does. We see a regular switch between beets and chards in the market – these making up perhaps the largest portion of red coloured inclusions in mixes. Each have their own positives and negatives. While beets have traditionally been far more commonly grown than chards they can ‘bleed’ once harvested resulting in discolouration in packs. Beets are also associated with a loss of colour depth as we move in to the warmer months. In addition, many older varieties have been susceptible to leaf spot diseases such as Pseudomonas which frustratingly appear very close to harvest time. SPS has a range of beets with increasingly strong tolerance to Pseudomonas and which retain their colour in the warmer months. While BLUSH is a mainstay in many growers programmes due to its deep colour, CHERRY BLOOD brings an even stronger tolerance to Pseudomonas and RED RUBY brings more vigour for the cool and cold months.








MISTREL is a bright red-stemmed, green chard with thick crunchy leaves that is suitable for inclusion in salad mixes or as a stand-alone product. MISTREL has high resistance to Cercospora sp. and intermediate resistance to Pseudomonas sp. giving it a premium disease package against leaf spotting. In addition, the leaves hold their colour in warmer conditions and resist leaf miner damage that often discolours other leafy crops. MISTREL is a hybrid.

SIROCCO is a hybrid green chard with a bright red stem best suited to cool season babyleaf production. SIROCCO shows excellent vigour and uniformity and is a significant improvement in quality and reliability of chard production. Although SIROCCO can be grown year round it has its biggest advantage in the cool and cold of Winter/Spring where the hybrid vigour reduces time to harvest. The red stems of SIROCCO are a ‘low-bleed’ risk - a problem often associated with beets when grown for babyleaf.

VARIETY FEATURES • Mid-green leaf colour


• Red stem colour

• Mid-green leaf colour

• Oval leaf shape

• Red stem colour

• Smooth, wavy leaf margin leaf

• Oval leaf shape

• Upright growth habit AGRONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS • A hybrid variety • Strong tolerance to leaf spotting diseases

• Smooth leaf margin • Erect growth habit


BULWINKLE BULWINKLE is a fast growing, serrated rocket (Eruca) with excellent presentation and long shelf life. An ideal substitute for wild rocket when growth is slow, BULWINKLE has a thick leaf and maintains its colour in the warm when many speedy types struggle. BULWINKLE has an upright habit and grows in very uniform stands making for easy harvest. Although fast to mature, the leaves of BULWINKLE will remain within spec. VARIETY FEATURES • Mid-dark green leaf colour • Green stem colour • Lobed leaf shape • Serrated leaf margins • Vigorous, erect growth habit AGRONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS • Maintains colour even in warm conditions • Slow to bolt in Summer

AGRONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS • Best results obtained when grown in the colder months • Good field tolerance to bacterial spot

An alternative to beets for inclusion in salad mixes are chards. Chards are far more commonly grown as part of babyleaf programmes in Australia than they are here in New Zealand. In more recent times hybrid chards have come on to the market which give additional vigour in the cool and cold months and, as such, are associated with very high recoveries and extremely long shelf life. Problems sometimes associated with chards is the fact insect damage can be highlighted as darkened circles on the green leaf as the plant reacts to the damage and ‘bleed’. In addition, older varieties have also struggled to produce a dark enough red stem colour to stand out against the green leaf blade and give contrast. Chards, while generally stronger against Pseudomonas than beets tend to be susceptible to Cercospora – another leaf spotting disease that can affect a crop at any time, not just at harvest. SPS have available now two chards ideally suited to babyleaf production – SIROCCO a hybrid, red stemmed chard which gives very high production of clean, uniform leaves and MISTREL also a hybrid but with high resistance to Cercospora and intermediate resistance to downy mildew (Peronospora). | 11

Increasing consumption of


Global warming, prevention of lifestyle diseases or simply because it tastes good. The global consumption of organic products is increasing. This increase appears to be linked to the level of prosperity of the countries and their inhabitants. The consumer prices are decreasing due to scaling up of production and conscious choices by retail chains. A lot is happening in the world of organics. The global consumption of organic products is increasing significantly. In January 2018, RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness published the World Vegetable Map, listing the percentage of organic consumption per country in relation to income (see figure). There is not much interest in organic products in countries with low incomes. As soon as prosperity increases, so does consumption. This could be linked to an increase in knowledge and awareness, but the higher price of organic seems to be a more obvious reason. Swiss citizens are the most enthusiastic conscious consumers. No less than 16% of their fruit and vegetable purchases are organic. However, income is not the sole factor. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom also have sufficient prosperity, but the consumption in these countries is no more than 5%.

HEALTHY AMERICANS “Consumers in the United States and Canada are showing an increasing interest in organic products, resulting in rapid growth of the market,” explains Erica Renaud, Regional Business Manager at Vitalis Organic Seeds North America. “People have very diverse reasons for this. One of these reasons is the growing awareness that there are limits to the extent to which we can exhaust the earth’s resources. Millennials want to know where their food comes from and have a preference for quality, an authentic production process and good labour conditions over a food production system driven by cost price.” As far as American consumers are concerned, quality means that they want to eat food that contains vitamins, in the hope of preventing possible lifestyle diseases. Young people pay more attention to this theme than their parents and grandparents. Bestsellers about nutrition and opinions of chefs and food bloggers encourage these feelings.

BIG BUSINESS According to the American Organic Trade Association (OTA), food products that are organic in origin account for 5% of the total food purchases in the USA, amounting to over 39 billion dollars per year. According to this source, one third of this is spent on fruit and vegetables. The top ten of fresh organic products contains no less than five vegetables, namely: babyleaf, herbs, carrots, precut vegetables and lettuces. The large proportion of convenience products is a striking feature. Organic has become big business, as demonstrated by large takeovers. In 2017, Amazon acquired Wholefoods, known for its organic product lines. The Californian organic production company Earthbound Farm is now in hands of the French food group Danone.

GROWTH MARKET The trend in the United States also applies to other countries. The demand for organic products is increasing and more and more entrepreneurs are making the switch. Researchers estimate that the total market for organic products worldwide is 90 billion dollars per year. The United States is in the lead with 39 billion dollars. Germany follows with 9.5 billion dollars, France with 6.7 billion dollars and China with 5.9 billion dollars.

LONG HISTORY The consumption in German-speaking areas of Europe is most pronounced, considering their long history of natural education and information in the field of nutrition and health. The German growers are able to sell their products in supermarkets under a special label during the three-year transition to organic farming. This stands in stark contrast to their colleagues in other countries. These transition labels, such as ‘Junior Heroes’, are well known and accepted by the consumer and are promoted by the supermarkets. The organised organic associations, such as Naturland and Bioland, are very typical for Germany. Not only do they support the growers during the transition phase, they also set criteria for fully organic cultivation that are sometimes more stringent than the official EU standards. One of the most important criteria is the use of organic seed, if available. In order to guarantee this availability, these associations work together closely with organic seed breeding companies such as Vitalis. “It is very important for me to work hand in hand with associations. This allows us to build a relationship of mutual trust and understanding in order to supply consumers with sustainably produced and healthy vegetables,” explains Melanie Molnar, Community Manager Organic for Vitalis in Germany.

RETAIL AND HEALTH FOOD STORES In the United Kingdom, the consumption of organic products is slowly starting a revival, but the decreasing spending power is not helping. Organic meal boxes are gaining popularity with the real fans. Companies such as Abe & Cole and Riverford deliver millions of boxes annually. However, the majority of sales in this country take place via retail. In the Netherlands, the health food stores account for the largest share. The younger organic concepts, such as Ekoplaza and Marqt, appeal mainly to the millennials. However, the major Dutch retails have also embraced organic.

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China $5.9 billion France $6.7 billion Germany $9.5 billion After initially only selling several products, such as pumpkins, most retailers now have an organic own-brand line. In the fresh produce section, many retailers are increasingly opting to offer only organic items for the smaller products. Examples of this include herb plants and orange pumpkins. The advantage of this is that the retailer’s profit margins increase, without the consumer being affected too much. In fact: consumers are sometimes buying organic without realising it.

EMERGING MARKETS New countries are lining up to embrace organic, although these products do not have an official status everywhere. They are effectively freely marketable products without conditions or obligations. The popularity of organic is increasing in China and accounts for a share of approximately 5% in the supermarket. The retailers place these products on their shelves to distinguish themselves from the so-called ‘wet markets’, which until now have sold the most fruits and vegetables. The total share of organic is approximately 1%.



Switzerland Sweden


Austria Denmark US

10 Germany 8



6 Italy Spain


UK China Brazil

2 0 0



Czech Repblic

Russia 20



France Finland


Australia 50

United States $39 billion

The buyers, mainly young families, pay about 30 to 50% more for the products. The growth of organic in China is probably also due to recent food scandals. People are opting for organic or products with a traceable origin rather than unreliable, anonymous standard products. The awareness surrounding organic is growing in Poland, Ukraine and Russia. It is mainly the richer households that are able to make this choice. It is expected that it will take a while before organic vegetable production really gains ground, as the population is still quite conservative.

RETAINING THE LEAD How can farmers and growers capitalise on the growing market for organic fresh products? Erica Renaud knows both the pioneers and the large-scale conventional growers who have switched or are in the process of switching. “The market demand has generated a lot of interest in this method of cultivation. Some growers have indicated that their buyer is encouraging them to switch.” There needs to be enough organic seed available for all this cultivation. Maarten Vrensen, Sales Manager at Vitalis, explains that a lot of new varieties emerge from the breeding programme at Enza Zaden, once extensive organic field trials have proven that they are suitable for organic farming and contain sufficient resistance. Vitalis has its own breeding programme for broccoli and cauliflower.

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Total market for organic products worldwide: $90 billion



Income (x 1,000) Note: Income is gross national income in purchasing power parity, expressed in current international USD

In February 2018 Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research published a World Vegetable Map including this chart with the popularity of organic vegetable. The share of organic in total spent on vegetables is somehow related to the average income of that country according to World Bank data.

“It is definitely a major challenge for use to keep up with the growth of the organic sector. According to European legislation, growers can only receive exemption for the use of untreated standard seed if no organic seed is available, but that is an exception,” he explains. “Large, specialised growing companies can focus extra attention on demanding varieties within their product range. But all-round growers, who grow a lot of different products, need to be able to count on robust, reliable varieties that can withstand suboptimal growing conditions.”

The recent loss of a number of key plant protection products (PPPs) that are used as seed treatments, including those containing thiamethoxam, clothianidin and thiram, has left a big hole in the overall crop protection regime of many crops. Going forward the approval of PPPs for seed treatments is expected to become more difficult due to legislation and costly registration demands.



Elsoms Seeds clean, prepare and treat seed for a number of different companies across a wide range of crops, particularly vegetables, but also including cereals, herbs, cut flowers and even tree species. As such the business has invested heavily in the latest equipment and state-of-the-art technology.


TREATMENT Rae Cook, Head of Seed Treatment at Elsoms In December last year Elsoms brought together stakeholders from across the seed supply chain, including breeders, technology companies, crop protection suppliers, advisers and growers at a workshop on seed quality and technology. As well as the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues faced by the industry, attendees also had the chance to tour Elsoms’ seed treatment facilities including the latest seed cleaning, priming and coating equipment. Welcoming delegates, Elsoms’ Deputy Chairman Robin Wood explained that the demand for ever higher quality seed continues to increase, while at the same time, some traditional tools, such as chemical seed treatment, are becoming restricted. Therefore the whole sector needs to work together to get key messages across to government and others, and also to evaluate the efficacy of new products and technologies, such as biological treatments, he said. Rae Cook is Head of Seed Treatment at Elsoms and provided a history of the company, as well as a summary of current seed processing and treatment techniques offered by Elsoms. “There are very few people treating seed in the UK,” she pointed out. “We really believe that seed treatments have to be part of integrated crop management and so we provide a whole range of seed treatment services.” These include pelleting, film coating, priming, cleaning, and testing – working with long term partners. “Seed treatments are a highly accurate and targeted method of application, using very low dosages of active ingredients per hectare,” she added.

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Rae also alluded to the recent political and commercial focus on plastics in the environment: “There are now various conversations in Europe and the UK about micro plastics and I am sure that the use of micro plastics and polymers in agriculture will be part of that agenda,” she said. While conventional plant protection active ingredients have been lost, the number of biological products becoming available continues to grow and Elsoms is keen to understand which of these have the potential to enhance seedling establishment. To help this process, Annie Sneath, Technical Specialist for Seed Treatment, is currently conducting trials on a range of different biological compounds to determine their potential. Rob Adamson of Arysta Life Science – which is in the process of merging with UPL – discussed some of these biological options alongside the loss of thiram and what this might mean for growers. “We have to defend the use of seed treatments,” he stressed, pointing out that lobbying and stewardship on thiram “did make a difference, but not enough of a difference,” when it came to consider re-registration at the EU level. “Stewardship is here to stay. Arysta aim to have a full range of seed treatments, including bio solutions,” he added. Such biological products generally fall into a number of distinct categories, such as metabolic stimulants or plant defence stimulators. “Biocontrol is probably going to be the future and [the development of ] foliar formulations will be closely followed by seed formulations,” Rob concluded. “A combination of these things will be how we have to defend seeds in the future. There are combinational benefits and you can get a synergy effect, which is where the treatment technology at Elsoms, allowing multiple coatings, comes in.”

Brechje Veerman of Incotec explained how digital technologies are transforming seed production soil type,” he explained. “The complexity of biological objects means they can have huge variation and deep learning need to have large data sets, so such models are computationally expensive.” However, Incotec is already using digital developments and ‘big data’ to improve many of its processes, such as the standardisation of seed coatings and improving the algorithms which underline techniques such as x-ray upgrading. “A digital approach overcomes differences in human assessment so the results are always consistent,” added Alexander. “Developments are going very fast.”

Dr Heike Knoerzer of Petkus described how biological and physical treatments can be used to remove pathogens from seed. “Producing pathogen-free seed is a process. You can do a lot before any seed disinfection process with effective seed cleaning,” she pointed out. “If we have an issue with [the availability] of chemicals, then we need alternatives.” Originally the company began looking at the use of plasma to clean seed, but switched its focus to steam as “there needs to be a certain distance between the plasma source and the seed which makes scaling the system up difficult.” The result is the ROEBER HySeed Bio system which uses ‘Active Steam Technology’ to not only kill pathogenic bacteria and fungi, but also improves germination. Seed treatment specialists Incotec are also developing new technologies and Brechje Veerman and Alexander Semenov gave a presentation on how developments in digital technology and data could contribute to seed enhancement. In particular machine learning, and ‘deep learning’ (which creates an artificial neural network capable of learning on its own) have the potential to revolutionise the assessment and treatment of seeds at an individual level. “We are convinced that digital developments will create a disruptive shift in agri-tech which will be as important as the green revolution was,” explained Brechje. “How far will this go and how fast will these developments be?” In answer to these questions, Alexander said that digital technology is already having an effect. “We can already predict the quality of seed lots based on collected data, and predict how seeds will react to different parameters such as

The NFU’s Chris Hartfield believes that Brexit could present opportunities for a more science-led approach to plant protection product approval Chemical seed treatment has been one of the great success stories of modern plant protection. As Chris Marshall of Bayer pointed out, the aim of seed treatments is to minimise the amount of active ingredient that is used to the smallest possible dose. For example, an overall treatment of a product on a growing crop might require 1.35 kg of active to be applied per hectare, while a seed treatment containing the same active for the same planted area would require just 90 grams of active. By Richard Crowhurst

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