HZPC invests in ongoing plant breeding and developing the best potato varieties. This is vital in order to create new and distinctive varieties and to exploit new breeding techniques. A quarter of our organisation focuses on research & development.
Over the past year, we have taken significant steps forward in the field of breeding. Our young varieties are becoming more productive and robust. HZPC is increasingly figuring out how to make its varieties more resistant to diseases, from nematodes to late blight.
Thanks to this progress, the use of crop protection agents has been further reduced. We share our growers’ concerns that aphids and storage disorders are harder to manage. HZPC stimulates research into new control methods, as well as improving varieties with respect to virus and fusarium sensitivity, for example.
The Alcander and Alverstone Russet varieties broke through the 100-hectare barrier in European acreage this year. In terms of our company’s growth, this is an important parameter; we aim to break through this barrier with at least one variety per year.
Centre of expertise
The building plans for our centre of expertise in Metslawier have been finalised. Construction will soon begin. This also means that the central point for our R&D work will remain in the Netherlands.
‘HZPC is succeeding in creating more robust varieties that are resistant to diseases’
Many of our research projects are very long-term. In the process of our research, it is important to apply molecular markers as these allow us to select plants, at an early stage, on the basis of a range of features. We are able to analyse DNA effectively, efficiently and using automated methods.
Robert Graveland, Director R&D: ‘As a result of breeding, HZPC has successfully grown potato varieties with a high degree of disease resistance. We continuously aim to develop varieties with an even higher yield for the entire potato chain, from growers to consumers. Furthermore, we focus on improving the ecological qualities of our varieties, such as efficient water use and nutritional value.’
HZPC also expects great things from mutating potatoes using a gene editing process, within the regular breeding norms. This innovation offers huge benefits. Thanks to this technique, progress can be realised much more rapidly than with breeding, particularly in the area of disease resistance. Unfortunately, Europe has implemented restrictive legislation in relation to this, meaning we must therefore test and market the relevant products outside of European borders.
There is a promising future for growing hybrid potato varieties. HZPC is making huge strides with this technique. In Tanzania, HZPC has trial fields where seed potatoes are tested directly from seed. In 2021, we expect to create a prototype, which we will be able to market from 2025.
Resistance to nematodes
Breakthrough in fight against nematodes
Nematodes are a huge problem in potato growing. These small parasites can cause serious damage to a field of potatoes and the harvest yields. If you are to grow seed potatoes, your land must be free of nematodes. Varieties with broad resistance, which clean up nematodes or prevent them taking hold, are the main focus of our breeding programme. The Innovator variety has been available for twenty years and Allisson is an example of a high-yield variety with broad nematode resistance.
The Allison variety is a new product of breeding by HZPC,
with a high yield and a broad resistance to nematodes.
In the interests of its growers, seven years ago HZPC started this research programme, which is now showing very positive results. A significant proportion of the varieties that are now being bred are resistant to nematodes. HZPC is also currently testing a fries variety that is completely protected against the nematode Meloidogyne chitwoodi.
Geboorte van een tropische aardappel
A potato plant that is resistant to warm, humid weather? That’s precisely what the residents of South-east Asia desperately need. HZPC has introduced a new phytophthora-resistant potato variety. Zarina is suitable for the fresh market and the HZA09-1496 is a candidate for the crisps
market too. The potato has a good yield and is resistant to tropical conditions.
In the special research programme, HZPC works with the potato institute Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP) in Lima, Peru. ‘We work with crosses and combine genetics’, explains Robert Graveland, Director R&D. The breeding programme is very promising.
‘We have succeeded in selecting specific clones, which perform really well under extreme, tropical weather conditions. They are marketed in countries including South China, Indonesia and Vietnam.’