Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 29 are also important criteria. Uniform pod colour, pod diameter, pod length, taste, and shelf life for fresh market beans are other important criteria. Another breeding consideration is for the less developed markets, where pods are hand-picked. The breeding criteria for this area would be strong plants with long standing ability and possible multiple harvests per plant. EV: Each programme has its own breeding scheme because breeding objectives depend on the slot. Greenhouse grown bean types do not need the same disease resistance package as field grown beans. Breeding is a process that always starts with crosses, followed by selection and fixation of traits. Downstream is experimentation, such as yield trials, parallel to seed increase and end of selection. ES: Let’s assume that yield and disease resistance are among the most important targets. What other breeding targets do you spend your time on? Protein content? Dry matter? Drought and/or heat tolerance? Any others? CV: Vilmorin research teams also focus on other aspects, such as flexibility and versatility—these are absolutely crucial. The colour of the pod, and flesh quality can also be important criteria depending on which markets we are talking about. Also mentionable are the ease of harvest or earliness for processing markets. For example, the Vilmorin extra fine green bean Crosser, launched in 2014 and dedicated to western European processing markets, has a strong commercial potential due to its earliness, pod quality and yield potential. GvdB: Yield is very important indeed, but also consistency through the season and through the years. Since beans are an open-field crop, they must be able to deal with different—adverse— conditions. Heat tolerance is crucial in southern and Eastern Europe, but cold tolerance and cold vigour is needed in the cooler areas, such as northwest Europe. JR: Drought and heat tolerance are important parts of the yield preservation trait—abiotic stress tolerance—which is a key trait in our programmes. Other traits we are selecting for are quality traits, such as: • pod length of whole or cut beans • uniform grouping of the beans in a grading class • fibre/string is a trait that has a negative effect on eating quality • harvestability both for fresh and processing • pod colour has to be uniform and in line with the processors’ specifications Then there are seed quality traits, like transverse cracking and mechanical damage. Both have a negative effect on the germination of seeds. ES: Many crops have been turned from self-pollinated or open-pollinated crops into hybrid crops. Are there any developments in that direction with French bean? EV: Bean is an autogamous crop. The flower biology does not allow insect pollination, and multiplication or increase rate is too low for hand pollination, like tomato hybrid seed. As far as I know, there aren’t any commercial hybrid bean varieties on the market today. GvdB: We think hybrids will still take some time. Many hurdles need to be overcome before we will be able to make hybrids on a commercial scale. JR: French beans today are still a self- pollinated crop, and we don’t see them moving towards an F1 crop in the near future. Beyond that—anything is possible, and we will scout and monitor development in that direction with great interest. ES: Do certain regions require a different type of French bean than others? How are they different? CV: Yes, they do. For instance, extra fine beans grown by processors are very specific products, mainly for French and Benelux markets. In this regard, Vilmorin has specialised for the extra fine green and wax bean markets. In most other European countries, the market requires beans with bigger pod diameter. GvdB: Yes, different areas, and sometimes even different countries, need different types of beans. We all probably know the French require ‘haricots verts’, which are extra fine beans with a pod diameter less than 6.5 mm. In Spain, mainly flat beans are produced, whereas in certain eastern European countries there is a preference for wax, or yellow, beans. In most other areas, green beans are needed. However, colour intensity is another important point. In Italy, for instance, the market needs very dark green pods, whereas in northwest Europe, a more neutral or medium green colour is preferred. ES: What kind of investment is needed in time and money to develop a new French bean variety? JR: It takes six to seven years to create a commercially-ready variety, depending on the Bean research trials in Vilmorin Greenhouse. Elise Vandeuvre of Vilmorin.