The variety was introduced in 2003, but NIAB vegetable specialist Bruce Napier explained: "Eskimo's win recognises its steady market growth, year on year, through good performance and as pressures on cost and the availability of straw continued to rise."
Uncovered crops of Eskimo showed their value in the early frosts last winter, suffering losses of between zero and 20 per cent, compared with up to 100 per cent losses in competitor varieties, he added.
Nickerson-Zwaan UK range manager John De Soyza said: "A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone into the commercial development of the variety over the years. We are delighted that its benefits to the industry have been shown to be real and consistent."
High-yielding, ultra-early maize variety Kentaurus, bred by KWS, won the award last year.