Syngenta crop breeding to focus on colours and genetics

Syngenta outlined its upcoming crop breeding and protection priorities at last week's ADAS vegetable conference, which it sponsored.

Brassica specialist James Gray said: "We are near to maximising yield, so it's about making vegetables a bit more sexy. We are developing a range of the colours, shapes and sizes that consumers and retailers are looking for."

These include orange sprouts, for which, he said: "We are looking to see whether there is any consumer buy-in," said Gray. "New breeding technologies allow us to reduce the time required for new product development. Nine years is too long."

But while breeding continues to "stack up" traits such as resistance to clubroot in new varieties, that cannot solve everything, he said. "We will still need plant protection products."

Within that market, Syngenta is focusing on integrating genetics and crop protection, technical manager John Ogborn explained.

"We have seen a lot of products lost, but there are new and exciting ones coming through, particularly for integrated pest management programmes and with reduced residues," he said.

Reysa is a new biological control derived from giant knotweed. Developed by an US start-up, Ogborn said it had shown astonishing results in field trials.

"We are still learning how best to use it, but we expect it will be used in organic agriculture in the EU," he added.

The fungicide isopyrazam, in use in cereals, will provide another mode of action when it goes on the market for vegetables, said Ogborn.

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