Frost-hardy pointed cabbage may benefit Cornish growers

Brassica growers in Cornwall may soon benefit from a new variety of pointed cabbage named Monarchy that has been bred to be more frost hardy than other varieties.

The Nickerson Zwaan variety - launched at last week's Brassica Growers' Association biennial conference at Warwick HRI - has been specifically bred with south-western growers in mind.

Nickerson Zwaan development manager Nick Bolton said: "All we can do for pointed cabbage at the moment is grow it for six months of the year as it is very susceptible to frost damage. So what we have been saying is: 'Let's try making a variety that's more resistant to frost, exploiting local climates like Cornwall' - and here we are."

Nickerson Zwaan, which has been testing the variety for a couple of years before its launch this month, describes Monarchy as hot and peppery-tasting, like a lettuce.

Bolton said: "It can withstand a lot of cold weather and still maintain a good quality."

He said he hopes the variety will be popular with supermarkets aiming to reduce their carbon footprint as it will cut the need to import pointed cabbage during winter.

He said: "Currently pointed cabbage crops, such as Nickerson Zwaan's Duchy variety, are grown in Spain in winter - a process that is costly and builds up food miles."

Technical adviser Ellis Luckhurst of Cornwall-based Fresh Produce Solutions said Monarchy will "put a good six weeks on the (growing) season", which usually lasts until 15 October.

He added: "Now we can guarantee it up until Christmas, directly replacing Spanish imports."

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