Research Director Bert Schrijver comments: “Breeders and researchers from Bejo have worked for over 15 years to develop the company’s first tetraploid hybrid potato variety that grows from botanical seed. In recent years this variety, Oliver F1, has been tested in cooperation with Dutch growers, while Naktuinbouw evaluated the variety in order to grant breeder’s rights. The process of seed production has been successful and seed is already available”.
Growing potatoes from botanical hybrid seed, rather than from vegetatively propagated tubers, provides numerous advantages for growers and others in the distribution chain. True Potato Seed is disease-free, ensuring a healthy start of cultivation. Its compactness makes it easy to transport and store. And TPS is available for year-round planting.
“The advantages of TPS are particularly important for smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Central America,” says Rien van Bruchem, Crop Manager TPS. “In these developing regions, long distribution times for tuber potatoes can have devastating effects on the quality of the propagation material. In contrast, the quality of TPS typically holds strong during the distribution process.”
In the coming years Bejo will focus on selected markets in these areas, working with local partners and growers to develop further knowledge through commercial testing and to provide cultivation advice. In addition, this new variety will be tested in several countries of the EU in order to assess its value.
Bejo expects TPS to have hardly any influence on the well-organized sector for vegetatively propagated tuber potatoes. Growing potatoes from TPS has advantages mainly in regions that are relatively difficult to access.
Oliver F1 is the first promising variety to result from Bejo’s TPS Breeding Program. More varieties are currently in development as well.