Home' Grower : July 2013 Contents 12
The South Australian Grower – July 2013
❏ By GAIL THOMAS
ONE of Monsanto’s
senior broccoli breeders
Frans Van Den Bosch,
Netherlands, visited the national
vegetable expo at Werribee
recently to familiarise himself
with local growers’ brassica-
Prof Van Den Bosch has been
working on a program for easy-
har vest performance series
broccoli – a variety representing
25 years of development that was
recently released in the United
Kingdom and in the pipeline for
release in Australia and New
The variety incorporates traits
making it ideal for manual or
machine harvesting, improving
har vesting efficiency potential.
Prof Van Den Bosch will take
the information from his visit
back to Monsanto’s international
vegetable seed development team
to finetune advanced vegetable
breeds available in Europe and
America and how to best modify
PSB for the seasons and the local
He has also headed the trait
development for Monsanto’s
Brilliant White Cauliflower
variety, which has been bred to
have greater visual appeal to
consumers in addition to easy
Apart from breeding brassicas
designed to increase har vesting
ef ficiency, he has been working
on traits intended to make
floretting easier, which will be
another advantage for consumers.
“Normally you buy a 400-gram
head of broccoli which has been
conventionally harvested by hand
by all growers world-wide,” Prof
Van Den Bosch said.
“While you’ve got mechanised
planters etcetera, the cutting of
the broccoli still has to be done
manually – cut the leaves off, cut
to a certain length, then put it in
a box with ice to cool it for
“When I started breeding 25
years ago it was a bit strange that
a crop like sprouts is machine
harvested but broccoli isn’t.”
He said the reason for this was
that broccoli did not mature
performance series broccoli, it
can be machine harvested, has
more uniformity at the point of
maturity and an improved
maturity cycle (in normal
conditions) of as little as 69
days,” Prof Van Den Bosch said.
“There are three things you
need for machine harvesting –
the heads should be uniform in
size, the head needs to be high
for the machine to get
underneath, and it needs a clean
stem below the head with no
leaves other wise the machine
can’t do it.“ PSB broccoli offers
the advantages of significant time
saving as pickers can see exactly
where the head is, there is much
less cleaning, and it has higher
“This year we launched PSB 2
varieties of broccoli in the UK for
the summer-autumn to replace
Ironman and Steel which are the
standard varieties in the UK,”
Prof Van Den Bosch said.
“They have 350-400g heads
and they are on a piece basis
there while in Australia it’s on a
weight basis so we’re trying to
get them a little bit heavier to
suit the Australian market.
“Australia is currently finishing
their first year of trials now and
has another year to go, so
potentially it will become
available commercially in 2015.
“We also developed a prototype
harvesting machine in Holland
when we started and now they
are available for harvesting in
Monsanto’s Conrad Leeks was
showcasing the new Seminis
spinach varieties available this
year at the expo. It was from a
spinach program focusing on
better mildew resistance, speed,
and dark green colour and
included SV2157VB, a pure mid-
summer type, slow, downy
mildew 1-13, with dark green
leaves, high yield and ver y savoy.
Mr Leeks said it was similar to
Menorca and slower than Island
by about four or five days.
“SV2146VB is for a summer
slot and you’d be looking at
sowing this from October
through to March,” he said.
“It has roundish, dark green
ovate leaf, very savoy, erect, big
yield, downy mildew 1-13 and
comparative would be Island
which it will replace. Both these
new varieties are for baby leaf
“SV3580VC – sow mid to late
February through to the end of
March, possibly mid April
depending on the season and
coming back in again sowing in
September and October,” he
“Downy mildew 1-13, another
dark green variety, very erect,
pointier leaves good yield and
used for both baby and
Other varieties include Palaos,
downy mildew 1-10 which is still
used in Queensland and Western
Australia where downy mildew
pressure is not such a problem.
It is very erect, semi-savoy, has
good colour with round to ovate
leaves and used mostly for baby
Nighthawk, winter variety,
downy mildew 1-7, 9, 11 and 13,
ver y erect, and ver y fast, leaf can
be used for bunching and baby
SV3549VC, downy mildew 1-
11 and 13 erect, flat, pointier leaf
with very good colour that can
be used for baby and bunching,
predominantly used for winter,
sowing from about April right
through to August, but Mr Leeks
recommends keeping it out of
July’s cold spell.
SV3523VC is the fastest
spinach for winter, sowing April
through to end of August. 1-11,
13 round leaf, slight semi savoy
very upright, used for both baby
and bunching and a good yielder.
■ Save on harvest time
■ Fits manual, machine work
■ To be available in 2015
☛ FAST FACTS
This photograph compares the BC1691 standard regular head on the
left with the new SV0097 raised head variety.
Conrad Leeks, Monsanto, with
some of the spinach varieties
being bred for better mildew
resistance, speed, and a darker
Monsanto's Chris Bone and
senior broccoli breeder Frans
Van Den Bosch, Netherlands,
were at the national vegetable
expo at Werribee in Victoria in
May to find out about local
growers' brassica needs. They
will use the information to
finetune vegetable breeds
available in Europe and America
to suit the Australian market.
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