Strabini performs well in cultivation

Wim van den Berg is a marketing manager at Growers United, a cooperative of 40 affiliated businesses that grow tomatoes for the European retail market. Many of these family businesses have grown tomatoes for several generations and have witnessed and contributed to the widening range of tomato varieties.

They grow a broad range of tomatoes and focus on various arieties, such as large truss tomatoes, cocktail tomatoes and cherry tomatoes with a rich flavour." The choice as to which variety we grow depends on a wide range of selection criteria" says Wim. ‘We seek to identify those varieties that create advantages and added value throughout the chain. Tomatoes must be right for growers, the market AND consumers.’

Wageningen opening

How to choose the right variety of tomato
‘Growers look at the specifications of a variety. Is it easy to grow? Does it taste good? Do the fruits look attractive? We thoroughly analyse all these things, and only after that will we start considering how to introduce it to the market. Strabini meets the requirements in terms of flavour and appearance, and has a good yield when cultivated.

In addition, Strabini sets itself apart from other varieties because the fruits are firmly attached to the truss, which makes it easier to package them. Since it has such a good shelf life, Strabini can be presented to buyers without a plastic wrap. The fruits have short stems, which gives them a very neat appearance, which is appreciated by all parties along the chain.’

Resistance to ToBRFV
The ToBRFV tomato virus has been doing the rounds since 2020 and is capable of destroying entire crops. The virus is highly prevalent in Europe and many regions have been affected. Tomato growers are looking for varieties that are ToBRFV-resistant.

‘The virus won’t leave of its own accord,’ says Wim. ‘We will have simply to get through this stage so as to make sure our varieties grow fully resistant. In the last few years, everyone involved in the cultivation and sale of tomatoes has discussed this issue at length. We must continue to invest in smart innovations, and all parties involved in the chain must collaborate on this. We can’t let go of the virus while it’s still out there.

Focus on cost price
‘Due to high costs, it’s quite expensive at present to cultivate this type of tomato all year round. With the current energy prices and high labour costs, we are looking for other solutions that will help us keep the cost price down. For instance, we work with varieties that are less labour-intensive, so as to reduce costs somewhat in that way. We want to optimise the yield and the product itself to the maximum extent possible.

Detailed data helps us perform the right analyses. They are now being performed in an increasingly structured way. We convert those analyses into insights, which we then pass on to our growers and customers.’

What’s the smartest way to grow tomatoes?
‘That differs from grower to grower and from glasshouse to glasshouse. Strabini is a relatively strong variety and a flavoursome prune-shaped cocktail tomato, but we’ll have to keep innovating to ensure that the tomato remains affordable to consumers.’

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