Once again the world’s vegetable industry descended on the small Dutch town of Warmenhuizen for Bejo’s annual Open Days, held between the 26th and 30th September. The must sees: our True Potato seed variety Oliver F1, B-Mox, our bee program, carrot experts from all over the world presenting at our Carrot Symposium and a glimpse into the future of Bejo! In 2017 more people than ever visited from around the world, with guests coming from across Asia, the Americas, Africa, Australasia and of course Europe.

Visitors to our Open Days had the chance to see the latest varieties in the field, from our well established crop breeding programmes such as carrots, brassicas and onions (to name just a few), to newer material such as our lettuce and leafy salads. There was also plenty to see in the greenhouse crop selection including tomatoes, peppers and gherkins. Of particular interest were our new set onion ‘Boga’, parsley ‘Prairie’ and white cabbage ‘Report’. Guests were guided around the Open Days with our Bejo Experience App, which used smart phone technology to provide relevant information according to where you were in the field, and also provided up to date times for tours, transport etc.

Millions of bees

In the greenhouse, as well as demonstrations of our protected crop lines, we highlighted the importance of bees to our business, and to farming activities around the world, with a display prepared by Bejo four dedicated beekeepers. As a producer of vegetable seeds, we depend on bees to pollinate our crops: without them there would be no seeds, a fact that has led to us calling them ‘our most important colleagues.’ Bejo uses millions of bees every year for pollinating crops and we have our own apiaries (hives) in countries including the Netherlands, France and Australia, with more than 800 colonies of 20,000-40,000 bees in the Netherlands alone. The display showed how we are looking to use nutrition and better beekeeping techniques to develop more robust colonies, as well as explaining the different roles in the hive of the queen, worker bees and drones.

A glimpse into the future

There was a constant demand for the Seed Quality Tour, which showed visitors the journey that Bejo seeds take from field to final top-quality product. The Seed Quality Tour included our seed cleaning and processing facilities, seed technology laboratory, our research centre and also took in the packaging and storage departments. These tours showcased our state-of-the-art treatment facilities and provided a chance to learn more about our latest B-Mox seed enhancement technology. The tours also provided a glimpse into the future: presenting an overview of our latest investment plans for new warehouse and laboratory facilities, which are being constructed on site between now and 2019.

Latest innovations

Inside the product pavilion growers, packers, retailers and other guests had the chance to inspect some of our latest innovations in crop production and marketing, including the Oliver F1 potato, which is produced from True Potato Seed, rather than traditional seed tubers. This means production can be speeded up and the crop can be grown in a wider range of situations. In terms of marketing, our concepts such as Coolwrap cabbage snack wraps, Delicioni fresh onions, and Cool Carrot Candy snack carrots continue to gain in popularity in markets around the world.

Carrot Symposium

Bejo is known worldwide as a leader in carrot varieties, so it was not surprising that this year’s symposium, which had the theme ‘Carrots – Taste, Health & Innovation’ was popular. In fact it was so popular it had to be split over two days to accommodate the more than 500 people who attended. In addition to a range of informative presentations covering all aspects of carrot production from global supply and demand, breeding, local agronomy issues and health, there were also practical demonstrations in the field. These included a carrot harvesting demonstration by Asa-Lift, and a taste test which compared different varieties grown under different soil and climatic conditions – with the results logged by mobile phone app and displayed live in the tent.

With numerous exhibitors showcasing the latest machinery and technology, and Bejo representatives from across our global network, our 2017 Open Days once again proved to be a ‘must visit’ event for all of those involved in vegetable production.