The market as starting point
The wishes and demands made worldwide by growers, the vegetable trade, processing industry and consumers form the starting point at Rijk Zwaan for its breeding activities. Some examples of this are a high yield and long shelf life after harvesting, but also germination vigour of the seed and resistance to various diseases. Consumers are especially interested in an attractive and tasty product and like to be surprised with new colours and shapes.
Developing a new variety is a lengthy process. Once it is clear what traits a new variety should have, a breeder starts looking for suitable parent lines. We use existing varieties for this purpose but we also have at our disposal enormous ‘archives’. After all, Mother Nature provides a virtually inexhaustible source of diversification. Ultimately it can take as long as 15 years before an idea has evolved into a vegetable for the consumer: a period of repeated crossing, testing, selecting and of collaborating within the chain.
The breeding activities of Rijk Zwaan take place at various locations around the world in order to make optimal use of the different climate zones. That way we are able to develop varieties which perfectly fit local conditions. When selecting, we also take account of the purpose for which varieties are grown. To give an example, we use tests to see how varieties perform when they are processed for the convenience market or deep-frozen for the industry.