New Crops, New Varieties, New Directions
The session drew on issues facing the sector in the current financial climate and highlighted how the organic sector needs to think out of the box regarding new markets. David Shaw highlighted the value of blight resistant Sárpo potato varieties and the challenges surrounding the new strain of the disease. Roger Hitchings stepped in for Laurence Hasson who could not make it due to the weather. He presented the agronomic potential of various Bioselect varieties highlighting the resistant Toluca. The grow-your-own phenomenon has been cited as one reason for declining organic sales. Jill Vaughan presented the issues and opportunities of organic plant production to sell to this market.
The Sárvári Research Trust is a not for profit company, specialising in breeding potato varieties suitable for organic and low input systems. David Shaw espoused the potential benefits of the blight resistant Sárpo varieties (notably Sárpo Mira and Axona), explaining their performance over the last few bad blight years. He went on to discuss the issues surrounding the development of new varieties to cope with the ever evolving strains of Late Blight both on foliage and tuber. The most virulent new strain Blue 13 first appeared in 2005 and now accounts for 90% of infestations. He noted that there is a strong argument that varieties that used to have good blight resistance such as Sante might have their scores updated in the future. New varieties on the market include both earlies and second earlies enabling a supply of Sárpo potatoes throughout the season.
Laurence Hasson was not present to give his talk, Roger Hitchings took his place to discuss the search for the perfect spud. The importance of reliability, and strong agronomic characteristics was discussed. This enables the grower to plan ahead. Laurence (on the end of the phone) described the most promising Bioselect variety Toluca, which shows excellent resistance to foliage blight. Bioselect UK a subsidiary of Agri Coop in the Netherlands has many new varieties in the pipeline.
Jill Vaughan of Delfland Nurseries talked about growing for the grow you own market. Driven by TV cooks, lifestyle programs and Horticultural shows growing you own could be described as a natural progression for the organic consumer. Jill explained the complexities of growing over one hundred varieties for mail order and retail.
The new website organicplants.co.uk dealing with the bulk if the orders Delfland produces 33 million plants last year with 1.6% sold as mail order. Tricky customers aside Delfland have made their system work. There was a brief discussion around the effects of the grow-your-own market on commercial organic grower sales.
- John Samuel's Presentation Slides
- Jill Vaughan's Presentation Slides
- Laurence Hasson's Presentation Slides
- David Shaw's Presentation Slides