1 October 1999

Ware or when?New varieties in pipeline

Meeting the

demands of

tomorrows

consumers means

making the right

variety choices

today. In this special

feature we bring you

expert advice on

how to do that, with

stories on seed

management, a

prize-winning

processing grower,

and some

supermarket

pointers on fresh

produce. But first,

NIABs Simon Kerr

reviews what is new

on the variety front.

Edited by

Andrew Swallow

EXTRA yield, better resistance to pests and diseases, and a possible Desiree replacement. These are all on offer from ware varieties currently in NIAB trials.

But agronomic traits are of no value if an end-market cant be found, says NIABs Simon Kerr. Increasingly that means supermarket acceptance or processing ability. In both areas medium to high dry matter is becoming a prerequisite, he says.

"We need varieties with medium to high dry matter for ware because it also gives them the opportunity to go for processing. Besides, low dry matter potatoes may have poor taste and texture which limits their consumer acceptability."

That means supermarket acceptance of such varieties is unlikely, but local markets can cause exceptions to the dry matter rule, he notes.

"Nadine is a perfect example. It has very low dry matter but in the west midlands they grow a lot, sell it on the farm gate, and do really well with it. And yet it has limited supermarket sales."

Of the second earlies, Saxon is up and coming, says Mr Kerr. It has been NIAB recommended since 1994, with pre-pack potential. "It has good cooking quality and reasonable dry matter.

"Cosmos is a new one from Agrico," he continues. In year four of NIAB trials it is high yielding, with medium dry matter and good resistance to tuber blight and common scab.

"Weve had some really big yields out of Cosmos, but it does throw a lot of growth cracks and greens, so it needs to be managed carefully. The breeders look at is as a Marfona/Estima type – it will give big, early bakers." It is resistant to common scab, blight and bruising, but susceptible to PCN and leaf roll virus.

In the reds, provisionally recommended maincrop variety Symfonia from ZPC looks promising. Skin finish and appearance are a close second to Romano, with eating characteristics on a par with Desiree. "It has a good deep red colour, high dry matter and good cooking quality." It has the edge on Agrico variety Claret, he adds.

A very high-yielding red in third year trials is Shannon from Irish Potato Marketing. However, yield potential is let down by a poor agronomic profile. "It has very poor blight resistance and is susceptible to slugs – quite a difficult variety to grow," he warns.

Another maincrop variety only in third year trials with NIAB is Maritiema from SE Growers. "It looks interesting, weve got some reasonably good yields out of it – bit of a question over uniformity – but it looks OK as a general ware, pre-pack type," he says. Rostochiensis resistance is combined with partial pallida resistance, but it is susceptible to blight and viral diseases.

Only in year two of NIAB trials, Osprey could be one to watch for the future, reckons Mr Kerr. High yielding oval tubers with medium dry matter suggest it could succeed as an early season baker. But it is susceptible to blight and PCN, and the supermarkets have yet to pass judgement, he adds.

Struggling to make that breakthrough onto the supermarket shelf is Irish Potato Marketing variety Anna. "It looks OK, its NIAB recommended, but hasnt really taken off in a big way." Many such white pre-pack types are available, notes Mr Kerr. "A new variety really has to offer a major benefit to consumers and growers – maybe it doesnt have that edge," he says.

Fianna, fancied as a dual purpose french fry and pre-pack variety a few years ago, is falling out of favour due to soft-rot problems in store. A possible replacement is provisionally recommended Spey, from SCRI, he suggests.

Reflecting the market demand for higher dry matter, NIAB has dropped dual eelworm resistant variety Valor into the outclassed category.

"Medium-high dry matter is important for a variety now. It means theres an opportunity of going into processing and taste and texture are usually better for the fresh market," he concludes.

[BOX]

VARIETY VALUES

*Med-high DM needed.

*Symfonia: Romano/Desiree replacement?

*Cosmos: Early baker to watch.

*Supermarket / processor thumbs up important.

ENDS 720 WORDS

[AS PANEL]

NEW RESISTANCE SOURCE?

Hungarian Sarpo" type varieties in NIAB trials could offer UK growers new levels of virus and blight resistance, says Mr Kerr. "There are two of these varieties weve had in trials. Where weve grown them in virus exposure plots and then grown them on in the next year, theyve had no virus at all, so they are excellent. But they are a little bit coarse – not really up to our standards for pre-pack." Blight resistance is very good too. However, it appears to have major gene resistance, and as such the resistance is liable to breakdown. Hence, for the moment, interest in these varieties is likely to be limited to use as parents in breeding programmes, he says.

VARIETYVALUES

&#8226 Med-high DM needed.

lSymfonia: Romano/Desiree replacement?

&#8226 Cosmos: Early baker to watch.

&#8226 Supermarket / processor thumbs up important.

New resistance source?

Hungarian Sarpo type varieties in NIAB trials could offer UK growers new levels of virus and blight resistance, says Mr Kerr. "There are two of these varieties weve had in trials. Where weve grown them in virus exposure plots and then grown them on in the next year, theyve had no virus at all, so they are excellent. But they are a little bit coarse – not really up to our standards for pre-pack." Blight resistance is very good too. However, it appears to have major gene resistance, and as such the resistance is liable to breakdown. Hence, for the moment, interest in these varieties is likely to be limited to use as parents in breeding programmes, he says.