4 years ago

The Partnership no. 10

  • Text
  • Enza
  • Zaden
  • Partnership
  • Products
  • Cultivation
  • Radish
  • Crops
  • Varieties
  • Plants
  • Breeding

esistance to downy

esistance to downy mildew and Fusarium, i.e. uniformity, bright red colour, internal quality and keeping quality. in radishes that are milder than the summer radish grown outdoors. What we want is a radish that remains fresh and crunchy for as long as possible. So we must aim for radishes with a full centre, because that largely determines the crunchiness, and the consumer’s perception of it.” Taste Glucosinolates are the substances that are responsible for the taste and pungency of radish. Radishes use these substances as a natural repellent for pathogens and to protect themselves from plant eaters. Besides in radish, glucosinolates are also to be found in various members of the cabbage family, such as broccoli and cauliflower. They may have health benefits. Trends In spite of the product’s conservative market still a certain trend can be observed. So far, the production costs with mechanical harvesting have always exceeded those with manual harvesting, but the difference is rapidly decreasing. In actual fact, the situation will be reversed within just a few years. Labour costs keep increasing, especially because of all the social security contributions that employers are required to pay for their staff. This makes it very likely that ever more growers will switch to mechanical harvesting, and this will have consequences for the breeders. Taste is incidentally not a primarily breeding objective. “The radish’s taste is made up of not one, but many different glucosinulates,” explains Crop Breeding Manager Radish Andrea Schieder. “So it would be too complex to focus your breeding efforts on it. What’s more, different consumers tend to prefer different tastes: whereas the French and Austrians like their radishes to be fairly mild, German consumers prefer theirs to be pungent. A third reason is that a radish’s taste is not dependent on variety, but above all on cultivation conditions. For example, little daylight in winter results Great challenge This development will increase the importance of uniformity. Loose radishes intended for plastic packets are often all harvested together and later sorted on the basis of their diameter by the processing industry. Harvesting machines, on the contrary, harvest them one by one and immediately tie them together in bunches, irrespective of their size. So then growers want their radishes to have a uniform size. Uniformity is indeed the greatest challenge in today’s radishbreeding programmes. The radish breeding team, Enza Zaden Germany: Katharina Textor, Junior Breeder; Andrea Schieder, Crop Breeding Manager; Stephanie Kuntz, Product Specialist. Topless or with leaves? How do you like to see radish presented in shops? In some countries the product is sold mostly with leaves, whereas elsewhere you’ll find it processed, without leaves. In a few European countries, such as the UK, radish is presented topless in plastic bags. This is also the most popular way of selling radish in the US. Jock: “Radish without leaves can be kept for longer: three weeks as opposed to three days. So this product model works perfectly for countries that have to import the product, or where it has to be transported over long distances.” The Rolls Royce among radishes Breeding is a long process, and this is all the more true in the case of radish. Breeding takes around eight years, and varieties are replaced only after at least ten to twelve years. Celesta is still at the top of the market after more than ten years. And uniformity can only be achieved with hybrid varieties. Homozygous parent lines, i.e. lines in which both DNA strands are the same, produce identical offspring. Breeders develop such parent lines via inbreeding. Schieder: “However, radish is a real crosspollinator, and inbreeding soon leads to depression, resulting in weak plants with little vigour. So it takes a lot of searching to find good lines, with eighty percent being unsuitable because of inbreeding depression. That’s why we work with many different lines in our breeding programmes.” Healthy food The consumption of radish is increasing. Radish was originally a spring vegetable, one of the first that could be harvested after winter. Now it’s available all the year round worldwide. And this is not the only reason why its consumption is intensifying. With today’s healthy food trend, consumers are eating salads – and hence also radishes – more and more often. Moreover, radishes contain high levels of important vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. Jock: “They therefore fulfil all consumer demands to be a trendy product: attractive, striking appearance, good flavour and healthy.” In most North-West European countries radish is still sold mostly in bunches, with leaves. That’s for example how eighty percent is still sold in the traditional market of Germany. This form of sales presentation is also still favourite in France, the second European radish market, especially for the local French Breakfast type. “This type looks very attractive in bunches because of its two colours and cylindric shape. But while the demand for the French Breakfast radish appears to remain stable, round red radishes are becoming more popular in France. Young consumers like to buy them topless in plastic bags, and the white-tipped kind don’t look as attractive presented in this way. So this part of the market wants round, red radishes, which have the added advantage of a longer shelf life. Rudi Jock, Sales and Portfolio Manager Radish at Enza Zaden in Germany: “In breeding programmes you often see a variety excelling in a few characteristics, but showing some disadvantages in others. Celesta is different. This variety may not excel in a few specific features, but it is extremely reliable. All the important characteristics are satisfactory: it is a uniform variety with a good shelf life, it is of a good quality, colour and shape, and the tubers don’t split. On top of that it’s also a fast variety that is suitable for highly diverse cultivation conditions, thanks in part to its resistance to downy mildew. So all in all many advantages for the entire chain worldwide. In Russia the variety even became a quality brand. The demand was for Celesta radishes. Any other variety was simply unacceptable.” In spite of the conservative market, plenty of developments are taking place in the radish chain. Consumption is intensifying and the market is changing. The requirements that the product is expected to meet are consequently changing too. The breeders face the challenge of responding to these changes. 6 | The Partnership The Partnership | 7

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