Syngenta: innovation and improved genetics

Syngenta is using innovation and improved genetics as the foundations for its research commitment, where the company invests over 10% of its sales in new developments every year.

This was revealed by David Bodas, Food Chain Manager Iberia for the company at the “Demo Days on Melons and Watermelons”, explaining that “new consumers (smaller families, pensioners, millennials, on-line buyers or those concerned about their health) require new formats.

The most significant point of the day came when the executive announced the drop in production over the past 4 years in Piel de Sapo, which has fallen from 900,000 tonnes to 740,000, according to data from Mercasa.

“Something must be done to help consumers regain their confidence in melons; what has happened is the responsibility of the entire the chain. We must have a homogeneous product line because otherwise the customer will demonise us and transfer their purchases to watermelons, as has been happening. Although it is true that the entire sector has realised this and is trying to put the situation straight.”

For Syngenta, several inescapable parameters occur in their materials for the Piel de Sapo: on the one hand, the flavour (not just the brix degrees) and on the other, the firmness of the fruit and the average shelf life.

Therefore, two varieties stand out: DOMINIO and ARMERO, which have been highly successful due to their production, the plant protection and above all, due to their organoleptic quality.

DOMINIO is an early setting plant, with very good flavour and semi-firm flesh. The ARMERO, on the other hand, adapts to open air cultivation; it belongs to the medium cycle in Murcia. It is very robust and sets easily, with good behaviour against mildew. The fruit is very uniform in size and shape.

Other significant references are: VELASCO, CERVANTES or IBERICO. Charantais. This typology is becoming strong in the Spanish fields. Whilst the Piel de Sapo continues to lose its fans in the main production areas, the Charantais range is benefitting from the problem of Fusarium in France and it is making a breakthrough in Spain. The French operators have been looking for other areas and production systems. The regions that have benefitted most are Southern Alicante, Murcia and Northern Almeria, where the crops cover an area that is clearly over 2,000 hectares.

Syngenta’s most outstanding material is based on its traditional appearance, uniformity, aroma and internal quality. TAZHA and ARPON stand out, corresponding to an early segment and with some similar characteristics of flavour, aroma and conservation.

In the canary yellow melon typology, the PARTY variety has been shown to break down the standards of flavour and quality of fruit in general in outdoor productions: the structure of its flesh, conservation, fruit size and uniform, deep colouring, etc.

Watermelons. Syngenta has a very significant commitment to watermelons. The company has obtained very good results with the already very well-known RED JASPER for crops in Almeria, which this year has been accompanied by some good prices. It is a uniform variety, both in size and shape, with a deep red colour and a very crunchy, generous texture. It has been a true success story under glass.

The most recent new product presented by the company is called PRESTIGE, a fruit weighing around 4 kilos, with an excellent post-harvest conservation that makes it a product that is very suitable for export. Another new fruit this campaign is a striped, seedless, mini watermelon, BiBo, with excellent internal quality and suitable for growing both under glass and outdoors.

As an advance of the future market demands, which would allow mixtures of colours to be made, the YELLOW BITE appears, with yellow flesh, a crunchy texture, very sweet and weighing from 2.5 to 2.8 kilos. And the final addition is DORIN, a black-skinned fruit, weighing from 2.5 to 3 kilos and that is adaptable to being grown both under glass and outdoors.

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