Stories - 22-12-2023
Results from our ToBRFV-resistant tomato varieties exceed expectations
The tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is affecting growers almost everywhere in the world, and southern Europe is no exception. That’s why, with a great sense of urgency, Rijk Zwaan launched tomato varieties with Rugose Defense for mid-tech growers last year. “The results have exceeded our expectations – and we will keep on moving forward. Non-resistant varieties are no longer in scope,” states Crop Coordinator Tomato and Rootstocks David Herzog. Rugose Defense is one of the topics Rijk Zwaan is addressing at Fruit Logistica in Berlin.
All production areas are hit
ToBRFV is a huge challenge in all Mediterranean countries. After starting in Sicily, the virus spread very quickly. Less than three years later, all production areas in Italy, Spain and Morocco had been hit. David: “There’s no official data, and the situation varies between the different growing regions, but based on our own estimations the virus is present in between 10% and 80% of the greenhouses. The virus causes both a decline in the quality and a decrease in the commercial production per square metre.”
Varieties with Rugose Defense in all segments
To tackle this problem, the Rijk Zwaan team soon found new, unique genetics resulting in a high resistance level to ToBRFV. The company launched a range of varieties with Rugose Defense, including varieties for mid-tech/protected conditions in southern Europe. “Last year, we introduced two cherry tomato varieties and one cocktail tomato variety. And this year, we added varieties with Rugose Defense in almost all market segments, from mini-plum to beef tomatoes. Besides the high resistance to ToBRFV, they all have the package of other resistances needed in this region,” adds David.
Seed production in significant quantities
The results are above expectations, according to David: “It is still early in the season, of course, but so far growers have given us very positive feedback on the new varieties.” Cherry tomato Cuarzyta RZ can be used for loose or truss harvest and has a compact plant, a nice red colour and a good Brix value. Sylvyta RZ is a cherry tomato variety with similar fruit characteristics but is for loose harvest only. Vivalto RZ is a cocktail variety for protected conditions, with excellent firmness and an attractive red colour. The new mini-plum and beef tomatoes are also performing well.
“The main Spanish companies are already growing these tomato types, either commercially or in large trials,” David continues. “Because of the high demand, we tried to keep the introduction plan fair. The good news is that we are producing significant quantities of seeds of all these varieties and they will be ready in time for the next autumn and winter season.”
Rugose Defense is a must
And these varieties are just the beginning, since Rijk Zwaan plans to introduce tomatoes with Rugose Defense for all the market segments in the Mediterranean region. “Non-resistant varieties are no longer in scope. We’re even developing resistant rootstock varieties, although resistant rootstock isn’t necessary if the grower uses our resistant varieties. Frankly speaking, Rugose Defense is becoming a must for tomatoes and it will be the foundation to move ‘freshly forward’,” David concludes.
‘Freshly Forward, from Foundation to Future’ – this is the theme Rijk Zwaan has chosen for tackling today’s challenges, together with its partners. We will be presenting robust and resilient solutions as well as inspiring innovations at Fruit Logistica 2024 (Hall 1.2, D-13). You are also welcome to visit the Rijk Zwaan Retail Center in Berlin – the company’s very own experience and research facility.