Fruit Today talked to Stéphane Buffat, co-founder and manager of PSB Producción Vegetal (Buffat’s Genetics), a family-run company established by Philippe Buffat at the end of the 1990s
P.S.B is keeping its priority on variety innovation programmes to find the stone fruit of the future. The company works with between 90,000 and 120,000 new hybrids in different regions with over 70 hectares of parent plant nurseries. It also has 350 hectares of its own production of stone fruit located in Murcia. For this reason, as the company is a hybrid breeder, producer and distributor of its varieties, it is present on all the links of the chain of value and is able to better understand the demands of the markets and all the complexities of the sector.
What are the company’s main challenges in variety renewal for stone fruit?
Without any doubt it is a variety renewal linked to taste. The varieties must be sweet, with little acidity to compete with other types of fruit that we can find all year round on the supermarket shelves, such as mangos, bilberries or table grapes that come from the Southern Hemisphere.
This competition means that PSB must have fruit with very good organoleptic qualities (from April for the extra early regions of Europe, until October).
We cannot lower our guard; the space for stone fruit in supermarkets gets smaller every year due to the presence of new fruit or to the arrival of fruit from the Southern Hemisphere with highly competitive prices.
Moreover, we are looking for varieties that are tolerant or resistant to disease. PSB is highly committed to improving this point with the development of nectarines, flat peaches and flat nectarines that are tolerant to diseases of the monilia, powdery mildew, aphids and xanthomonas types. It is a top priority for end consumers to be able to have access to healthier fruit, with less plant protection residues, which also means a lower cost for the farmers.
Have you had any significant results on this specific subject?
Yes, in recent years we have made an incredible effort on the subject of selection using molecular markers to choose, from the very beginning, varieties with tolerance to sharka virus in apricots, for example.
The selection process is a key element in the different stages of testing of tolerance or resistance to this disease. Selection using markers before planting. Visual examination and testing or PCR of the tolerance after being contaminated in laboratories. And visual examination over the next 4 years.
The results are there for all to see. We have new apricot varieties from April to September with these tolerances. BORSALINO (10 days Mikado-cov), NESTOR (+5 days Colorado-cov), DOMINO (-5 days Flopria-cov), FLOPRIA, NELSON (+5 days Milord-cov) and AGOSTINO (+10 days Farbaly-cov).
What is this year’s launch?
P.S.B.’s launch this year is a range of sweet flat nectarines, with white and yellow flesh and perfect or almost perfect closure that allow the fruit to travel and to be stored in good conditions.
What stands out in this new range and why?
I think that, historically, after the crisis of the years 2017 and 2019, where there was an excess of offer compared to demand, and low consumption, the farming world needed a new challenge, a product that gives a leap in quality and has an internal renewal to fight against the competition of other fruit.
The PSB range stands out for different criteria: spectacular aromatic taste, with excellent flavour, important pistil closure, productivity, significant thickness and less waste due to an improved pistil closure and easy handling in the fields.
We are working hard to complete this range and obtain a line over the next few years.
Which varieties stand out in this new range of flat nectarines?
The names of the new varieties are: LUISELLA, AC459-25, DIOSA, TINTOSA and RUBIMANIA.
What are the prospects of flat nectarines compared to flat peaches?
Flat peaches have a dominant place in stone fruit consumption, meaning that traditional round peaches are tending to disappear for a key reason: flat peaches are better to eat in general. For example, PSB’s varieties Zodiac, Contessa, Babylone and Filoe have exceptional flavour.
But flat nectarines are easier to eat, as we don’t have to remove the skin. It is logical that sales increase against nectarines and flat peaches and that they also recover the ground lost to other types of fruit.
Variety innovation and a wish to improve are going to be key factors for tree growers’ future.