b'HEALTH?NAILED IT!A DEEP DIVE INTO BROCCOLI BREEDING.BY: MARCEL BRUINSL oved by some, revered as a super- Seed spoke with Mark Schrijnwerkers,that yield may be important for process-food and loathed by others. Thatsbroccoli breeder at Syngenta; Meinderting purposes but not for the fresh market broccoli, an edible green plant inBoon, broccoli breeder at Bayer, Johannessince consumers buy per heads. Due to its the cabbage family whose large flower- Pfeifer, Brassica Product Manager atagronomical and botanical aspects, and ing heads are eaten as a vegetable. It isSakata and Gregorio Padula, managinggrowing area, it is less subject to disease classified in the so-called Italica cultivardirector at Tokita Sementi Italia. pressure.group of the species Brassica oleracea, to which all cabbages, cauliflowers, kaleEUROPEAN SEED (ES): IN MOSTMARK SCHRIJNWERKERS (MS):Yield and and several other species belong. TheCROPS, YIELD AND RESISTANCEresistances are important, but consist-crop resulted from domestication of cul- ARE PARAMOUNT BREEDINGent and reliable quality of broccoli head tivated Brassica crops in the northernTARGETS. HOW IS THIS INis more important. The majority of the Mediterranean starting in about the 6thBROCCOLI?broccoli is produced for the fresh market century BC. And since the time of theMEINDERT BOON (MB):Yield is one(85%). The head weight is determined by Roman Empire, broccoli has been com- important driver in broccoli breeding thatthe market of consumption, but roughly monly consumed among Italians. Twocan help meet growers needs. Yield canbetween 350 and 500 grams. Most broc-thousand years later, broccoli has becomebe defined by individual head weight, har- coli varieties meet this yield demand, an appreciated vegetable all over Europe,vestable heads, or number of boxes perbut lack the head firmness, have a pur-and according to the FAO in 2016, theacreage in certain markets. Varieties thatpling head or a hollow stem. These are global production of broccoli (combineddo not meet yield specifications will notall characteristics to drop a variety. Yield for production reports with cauliflowers)provide growers with a sufficient returnis important for the industry market e.g. was 25.2 million tonnes. Did you knowon investment and are generally not suc- Poland and Mexico. However, these mar-that the word broccoli comes from thecessful. Resistance is another importantkets prefer broccoli varieties that can Italian plural of broccolo, which meansdriver in broccoli breeding and securesmeet both industry and fresh market "the flowering crest of a cabbage", and issuccessful harvests for growers. demands. These dual-purpose broccolis the diminutive form of brocco, meaningcan be sold in both markets, dependent on small nail or sprout?GREGORIO PADULA (GP):For broccolithe market prices. Resistances are very In order to get a better handle on howits one of the objectives, but I wouldntimportant as growers are very interested to breed a new broccoli variety, Europeancall it as a paramount target. We believein using less crop protection. The phy-topathology department is continuously looking for resistances against a wide range of diseases and pests.JOHANNES PFEIFER (JP):Quality char-acteristics are important for growers: yield is surely the major argument, which needs a reliable answer for the presenta-tion of a broccoli variety. In the end, yield is the single head weight - most markets are asking for 500g heads - multiplied by the plants per acreage. If the head size is the fixed component, then the capacity of harvested heads must be as reliable and as high as possible. Therefore, our com-pany has a strong focus in uniformity and vigour of the plants. Yield is immediately followed by external quality: our breed-ers need to take care about an appropri-Photo courtesy of Sakata ate appearance of the crop, e.g. fine and dark green colour of the beads, absence 22IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'