There’s still room for improvement!
Because red beet is closely related to sugarbeet, there are many synergies in breeding.
The market for beet is growing - not the least because of the healthy characteristics attributed to this colorful crop. Even if, for some, it still has a reputation as a "granny vegetable," red beet has become interesting again for nutrition-conscious consumers due to its high mineral and vitamin content as well as its sustainable, regional availability. There is a lot of potential here, as market research shows that only a small percentage of consumers buy beet. So there's still room for growth.
Red beet is closely related to sugarbeet. Both belong to the same Beta family and are grouped together in the Beta vulgaris subspecies.
The crop type became exciting for KWS with the acquisition of the Dutch vegetable seed producer Pop Vriend Seeds in July 2019. Since then, many synergies in breeding were able to be used. KWS has been researching the genetics of sugarbeet since its founding in 1856; Pop Vriend contributes over 10 years of current breeding experience on red beet. Belonging to the same botanical family makes it possible to share all breeding results across crops.
Resistance genetics: novelty for red beet
As a special highlight, we will take a look at resistance genetics. This is already established in the field of sugarbeet, while it is a novelty for red beet. As a result, Jeroen Wery, Senior Breeder at Pop Vriend, and Marnix de Kroon, Breeder, were recently able to implement rhizomania resistance in red beet. So far, the colleagues from Andijk have developed three competitive varieties – all without any resistances. Three more, now with rhizomania resistance, are currently in variety testing.
Up to now, breeding has clearly focused on quality, high sugar content and strong tops. Now there is an additional focus on research to develop and improve protection against diseases. KWS has been conducting research on rhizomania in sugarbeet for a long time. Jeroen and Marnix have now also been able to benefit from this knowledge.
Significantly shorter breeding time
The colleagues at Pop Vriend are also using the double haploid method to fixate desired combinations of traits in genetically homozygous parent lines for hybrid development. Previously, this was only possible through years of time-consuming self-pollination of selected plants. The DH method leads to a significant shortening of the breeding time of parental lines for variety development.
In addition to the DH method from sugarbeet, there are also other technologies available to the team that did not previously exist for red beet; examples include marker and phytopathology applications.
The two breeding departments exchange information on a regular basis. Colleagues also visit each other on certain topics.
Overall, the cooperation leads to a significant market advantage: an internal collaboration like this is currently unique in the hybrid market. Major industrial markets are already benefiting from the quality of hybrid seed, which will lead to further growth in this segment. |
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