As a supporter of Seminis genetics for over 20 years, Pukekawa brassica grower, Peter Aarts has trialled various broccoli programs over that time. Now onto a programme that features High-Rise™ types, his business, Sundale Farm Ltd started trialling our latest raised head-type Titanium in 2018.
Our Regional Business Manager for New Zealand, Nick Williams, spoke to Peter about his experiences growing Titanium. Here’s what he had to say.
Nick: How long have you been a broccoli grower?
Peter: We’ve been growing broccoli from the beginning. It’s continued to be a good crop to grow for both for our business as well as crop rotation. We’ve also always grown potatoes, and once upon a time we grew onions.
Nick: How long have you been a Seminis grower?
Peter: Again, from the beginning! Seminis has always had strong genetics in broccoli. Varieties out of the Seminis broccoli pipeline have always suited our climate and growing operations.
Nick: You’ve started growing Seminis’ High-Rise type, Titanium. What are your thoughts on it so far?
Peter: We started out in very small tray trials then moved to multiple tray trials, and now we are in commercial plantings. It has been a consistent performer season to season. Now that we are on a larger commercial scale it’s clear Titanium provides labour savings as well as ease of harvest.
Nick: How do Titanium’s extended visible crowns and cleaner stems benefit you?
Peter: As the variety came into slot it was clear the head sits higher than conventional varieties, which helps the harvest crew see them. It also makes them easier to cut as there are less branches on the stem close to the crown.
A lot of the traditional varieties that have been around for years are hard to rip and strip, leaving a lot of scarring to the stem – there’s none of that with Titanium!
In recent harvests, we’ve only been doing two passes, which not only helps with labour savings but also less compaction and ground damage, particularly with the wet weather we get.
Nick: How beneficial is it to have a variety that offers key traits like ease of harvest?
Peter: Titanium’s traits are becoming more and more important in today’s growing world. Not only are labour costs increasing but so are fertiliser and chemical prices, all of which increase a grower’s overall cost. If we can make some savings in one department – that’s what you want.
Nick: What’s your opinion on Titanium’s uniformity and yield?
Peter: Even though we aren’t machine harvesting yet, its uniformity is important as it reduces our harvest passes and allows us to have a more consistent supply of product for our customers. The crowns that Titanium produce are also uniform in colour and style.
Nick: How has introducing Titanium into your program changed your overall business strategy and operational outlook?
Peter: It’s really opened us up and made machine harvesting more of a reality. We must adapt on all levels of business so if we can start to that’s great! Machine harvesting may not become a reality for a while, but at least it gives us time to prepare – we know for sure that Titanium has a fit in our program.
Nick: Why should growers consider a high-rise variety, such as Titanium?
Peter: I think it’s important for growers to look at new products entering the market – not all of them will suit every grower, but with a variety like Titanium it provides a wide variety of traits worth looking at – it’s a uniform, easy to harvest, firm broccoli crown that one day we could machine harvest. When you think about its potential today and tomorrow, it is worth making changes.
Nick: Lastly, if you could design your perfect broccoli variety, what would it be?
Peter: My ideal broccoli is a plant with even less leaves and one we can get 90 percent on the first cut. This region has been growing vegetables for over 100 years so there are diseases in the soil which are even harder to control. I also think disease control through genetic resistance is becoming more and more important.
For more information on the innovation behind Seminis’ brassica breeding program by award-winning breeder Meindert Boon, click here.