Opening up the German market

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Breeder talks about resistant varieties, and combining sustainability with profitability in the future.

A NEW organic table potato, Cammeo, from Dutch breeder Geersing was one of the eye-catchers at this year's Weuthen Potato Day in Germany. 

Managing Director Jan-Eric Geersing said the breeding company has managed to open up the German market with this and other highly resistant and visually striking new registrations. 

In a recent interview with Fresh Plaza, he spoke about the restructured variety program and longer-term developments in potato breeding.

Geersing's variety program has undergone a comprehensive redefinition in recent years. From a strong focus on easy-boiling British potato varieties, the emphasis was gradually shifted to yellow-fleshed, firm-cooking and, not least, Phytophthora-resistant potatoes for the German market.

Jan-Eric said: "Regarding the early, coarse-fleshed varieties, we do well with Camillo, but in the later range, yellow-fleshed potatoes are needed to gain a foothold in Germany. In the meantime, we have gotten the relatively new variety Peter Pan listed exclusively with Weuthen, and the French Tentation is also gaining ground. We presented the latest yellow potato variety for the first time at the Weuthen Potato Day."

"Regarding the early, coarse-fleshed varieties, we do well with Camillo, but in the later range, yellow-fleshed potatoes are needed to gain a foothold in Germany. In the meantime, we have gotten the relatively new variety Peter Pan listed exclusively with Weuthen, and the French Tentation is also gaining ground. We presented the latest yellow potato variety for the first time at the Weuthen Potato Day."

Cammeo is suitable for French fries and he envisages see good sales opportunities in this segment in Germany. "What makes the variety stand out are in particular its visual characteristics with a smooth skin and its excellent Phytophthora resistance. Cammeo is currently one of the five varieties with the highest resistance," he said.

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Good yields are likely to be achieved by the breeder in the organic sector this year because of the early harvest and low Phytophthora infestation, said Jan-Eric. Despite sustainability concerns, the potato market is still good. 

"However, this does not mean that Phytophthora-resistant varieties have not reversed the trend. On the contrary, especially in the organic sector, cultivation risks have decreased considerably and this has also led to the best varieties being able to be produced up to six weeks longer, even in a year characterized by Phytophthora."

Overall, Geersing does not expect a major organic boom. "Nevertheless, I expect that the conventional sector will also increasingly tend toward regenerative cultivation, which in turn will have a positive impact on the environmental impact of potato production. In my opinion, this structural change would also be the only viable way forward for the potato sector and also the reason why we are clearly dedicated to breeding Phytophthora-resistant varieties. What also speaks in favor of this breeding strategy is that the varieties can also cope in dry, warm countries. To convey the added value of this variety, we have labeled it #growingstrong."

The breeder's future strategy will be to combine sustainability with profit. "In terms of yield and caliber, our table potatoes can keep up with competing, disease-susceptible varieties, while the high Phytophthora resistance offers additional benefits to growers. We have some catching up to do in terms of industrial varieties, although we already have interesting candidates in the pipeline in terms of baking color. We breeders will also have to somehow cope with climate conditions in the coming years, and by committing to highly resistant varieties at an early stage, we are already well advanced in that respect," he told Fresh Plaza.

Source: Fresh Plaza     Photo: Geersing Potato Specialist

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