04 Mar 2016

New experiences at the Bacchus Marsh Demotrial!

Australian Firsts

This year’s Bacchus Marsh summer trial open day had a number of Australian firsts; 

  • the first public display of KNOX™ lettuce in Australia
  • the first opportunity for growers to use the Rijk Zwaan Demopartner App
  • the first Love my Salad salading workshops for food professionals


Amongst the varieties in trial were some of the varieties with the Knox™ trait. The Knox trait was first announced in September 2015 and varieties with the trait discolour less rapidly after cutting compared to standard lettuce varieties. Whilst seed is very limited for a number of years Rijk Zwaan wanted to show growers this important development in helping to promote fresher lettuce. There were a number of Knox varieties on the field from various segments including iceberg, cos and Salanova®.

RZ Demopartner

The RZ Demopartner app is a great enhancement of the trial experience and enables visitors to look up details and information about the varieties, with local notes and descriptions, plus giving the growers the ability to add their own photos and comments on the day, and then retrieve the at a later date. Future versions of the app will add more functionality; watch this space.

Love My Salad Workshop

Running concurrently with the demo trial Rijk Zwaan was proud to share recent consumer salad leaf research, and visitors were invited to join Australia’s first "Love my Salad" salading workshop, developed especially for food professionals. Local Ballarat chef Christopher Howe designed three exciting new salads for the day which showcased the lettuce leaf types preferred by consumers in the research. Having a creative and skilled chef lead the workshop for growers and partners in the chain in an intimate setting created a great opportunity to open up a dialogue about applications and uses for the different leaf types; a truly educational experience for one and all.

Stars of the show

Iceberg variety Toscanas RZ is one of the key varieties for mid-summer in Victoria and showed its strengths, along with established shoulder variety Bernadinas RZ and new introduction Jasperinas RZ; a uniform lettuce with excellent quality. 

In the cos segment the market standard variety Gradara RZ showed all the reasons why it has been so successful with clean heads, tidy appearance, excellent yields and processing recovery. 

Crunchy Cos is a range of lettuces developed by crossing iceberg and cos to get the best out of both types. The depth of the range was shown off with no less than 6 varieties for various segments from large to baby and various seasons. The baby Crunchy Cos variety Chicarita RZ in particular raised a lot of interest with growers.

The spinach range also showed great depth with both current varieties and new introductions having excellent mildew resistance packages in addition to all the physical attributes required by the market; good colour, robust leaves and good processability. In particular last year’s successful introductions Woodpecker RZ and Platypus RZ have become a trusted part of growers’ sowing programs and looked great at the trial, and newcomer Goanna RZ (51-709) really caught the eye of visitors.

In the brassicas Estrema RZ showed why it is the market standard for savoy cabbage in most areas of Australia for the bulk of the year. There was also significant interest in the pointed cabbage Tourima RZ displayed as a mini head for sleeving.

Tough Season

In general Bacchus Marsh has had a challenging growing season, but it really turned on the heat this year, with a blustery 42°C day two days before the event testing the varieties to the extreme. Despite the tough season, grower Frank Provenzano and the Rijk Zwaan Bacchus Marsh team yet again provided an excellent trial as the basis for a very successful open day