Seed World

Enza Zaden Launches New Pumpkin and Squash Varieties

Photo Credit: Enza Zaden

In September, many seed companies open their doors to growers and consultants to present their latest vegetable varieties and field trials. Enza Zaden and its subsidiary Vitalis Organic Seeds do this during their Summer Field Days. In Germany, France and the Netherlands, the company pays special attention to their pumpkin and squash program, which has expanded significantly in recent years.

The joint pumpkin and squash breeding program is highly regarded worldwide. Under Vitalis’s supervision, the variety portfolio has been consistently expanded, deepened and improved since 1994. For the past few years, an international team of eminent breeders, biotechnologists and post-harvest specialists has been working on further developing the program at various locations in Europe, Australia/New Zealand and South Africa. The breeding program encompasses all relevant pumpkin and squash types for the global fresh market and vegetable processing industry and all major growing regions. At our Summer Field Days the focus will be on the most important segments for Europe: Hokkaido (red pumpkin) and Butternut.

In the Hokkaido segment, Orange Summer has been the benchmark for many years. This variety simultaneously revolutionized supply and demand. With consistently high scores for plant habit (compact), production, uniformity, color, flavor, shelf life, internal quality and intermediate mildew tolerance, the variety was immediately embraced by Western European growers. South Africa, Australia and New Zealand followed, with the result that this excellent variety is now available all year round. Retailers also recognize the quality of Orange Summer, which translates into steady growth in shelf space and consumption.

Growing conditions and requirements differ, however, which means a wider choice of varieties is needed. Bright Summer, Kaori Kuri and the recently introduced Flexi Kuri and Kenji Kuri score highly on resilience thanks to multiple resistances. They differ from each other in characteristics such as earliness, size and shelf life. There is also growing interest in these varieties among growers and the wholesale channel. A rising star for the near future is E.139, a new variety which can be seen in field trials for the first time this year.

Following in Hokkaido’s footsteps, Butternut is also gaining in popularity in Europe. The household name in this segment is Havana, with Tiana (earlier) and Jacqueline (larger) being attractive alternatives. Growers in southern Europe appreciate Havana’s stability and high yields, which are partly due to its mildew tolerance and virus resistance (ZMV).

A priority for the future is to achieve year-round availability of high-quality Butternut varieties. Enza Zaden and Vitalis are therefore working on varieties with greater cold tolerance which will allow growers in north-western Europe to take over from their Mediterranean colleagues once the season there comes to an end.