03 Aug 2016

Fresh innovation served up in the Lockyer Valley

Lockyer Valley Growers celebrate all things vegetable

After 18 years since a large scale horticultural expo in the Lockyer Valley the horticultural industry joined the Lockyer Valley Growers for a celebration of all things vegetable; the 2016 National Horticultural and Innovation Expo, held at the end July. The Rijk Zwaan variety trial held the full range of brassica, lettuce and spinach varieties selected for the Australian market, with a number of highlights in each of the crops.

Rijk Zwaan has continued an active presence in the Lockyer Valley for the last 20 years; breeding, trialling, product development and annual demo trials - many with the DPI and more recently the University of Queensland. Local Sales Representative Paul Connolly stated “We proudly consider ourselves committed partners to the Lockyer Valley Growers and look forward to a continued future of innovation and collective success.”

Fresher lettuce thanks to Knox™

One talking point for many salad producers and processors alike was the new Knox™ lettuce range; lettuce varieties that exhibit delayed pinking after cutting. 

According to Harry Turna, Rijk Zwaan’s Lettuce Coordinator for the Asia and Oceania, “Knox absolutely changes the game for processed lettuce. Product that looks this much fresher after packing means consumers will enjoy their salads more”.

There are a number of varieties in the Knox range including cos, iceberg, batavia and Salanova® as outlined in the leaflet "Fresher lettuce thanks to Knox™"

 “This is a really exciting time for salad leaf production” commented National Sales Manager Steven Roberts. “The Knox trait can offer so much, and the first varieties in the range show a lot of immediate commercial potential”.

To arrange trial seed or learn more about Knox contact your local sales representative to discuss availability

Strength in spinach

Rob Philip, Rijk Zwaan’s Spinach Crop Specialist for Australia, presented the assortment. “You can see the adaptability and depth of our spinach program; such a large range of varieties, right from the very slow midsummer material to the quicker winter material. Within each segment of the market we have a variety to cover each of the official strains of mildew!” 

“If growers are unsure, then they can talk to us about the best variety from our assortment to suit their crop, time slot and region. Also if they are unsure which strain of mildew that they have on farm we can arrange for testing to clarify and present them with the safest options” explained Mr Philip.

A standout of the trial was Goanna RZ for the midsummer time slot, with a robust dark green leaf, a strong resistance package and excellent performance in hot conditions. Wildebeest RZ complements Goanna RZ; being a couple of days quicker it gives a spread of harvest maturity in summer sowings, but will also transition well from cold to hot and from hot to cold conditions in the shoulder season; all this whilst maintaining a dark green colour and strength against disease. 

Woodpecker RZ showed why it has become a firm favourite of growers across Australia over the last couple of seasons, performing in the shoulder seasons with vigour, yield and good quality. Even midwinter standard Platypus RZ and new comer Shrike RZ showed their quality with dark green colour and robust leaves despite their quick growing nature.

Chart topping chards & specialties

Additions to the hybrid chard range showed a glimpse of the future with two follow ups to market leading red vein chard Charlie RZ, as well as a hybrid bulls’ blood and silverbeet. As one of the first commercial hybrid silverbeet varieties it sparked interest as a mature transplanted product, with a clean white stem, no leaf disease, a good level of savoy, a great flavour and the fact that it is a monogerm which can offer significant labour savings in propagation and growing.

Alongside standard brassica varieties were several specialties that really caught the eye of a lot of people, none more so than the Romanesco cauliflower Puntoverde which has a striking appearance and fantastic eating qualities. Add to this the ability for year-round performance in Australia, product quality and varietal strength against disease and it is a package hard to ignore.

Lockyer Valley Growers Love My Salad Tent

Rijk Zwaan was proud to support innovation not just in products, but also in an approach to support the industry; creating ways of getting consumers to eat more vegetables whilst enjoying the flavours, textures and experience. 

Love My Salad is an important part of this approach to changing consumer attitudes toward vegetables and Rijk Zwaan was proud to support the Lockyer Valley Growers Love My Salad Tent. 

Local chef Glen Barratt demonstrated three dishes designed especially for the event; showcasing the best of local and seasonal Lockyer Valley produce. Hosted by Rijk Zwaan’s Frances Tolson, a number of local growers also joined Love My Salad onstage to tell their stories about life producing vegetables in the fertile Lockyer Valley.

Practical tool for trials

The RZ Demopartner App is starting to prove itself as an indispensable part of the trial experience; allowing growers to make a shortlist of varieties from the field, store notes and their own images from the trial, as well as access all the official varietal information of resistances, local description and sowing schedules.

Rob Philip of RZAU guides growers through Rijk Zwaan's trial field at the National Horticultural Innovation Expo