The weather conditions that have been experienced during the winter and spring, the worst in recent memory, have been a crucial test for the new varieties. “The one that has risen to the challenge, has become a perfect fit for Almeria,” according to Víctor García, Product Manager for Cucurbitaceae at Syngenta. And in the case of this seed company, Graciano has been the all-out winner.
This variety is the first from its new genetic programme for piel de sapo melons, with long-lasting flavour that they started working on 5 years ago with varieties for the specific conditions of Almeria. This year, its third year on the market, it has finished by showing that agronomically it is “completely adapted” to the region. “We have seen this in the flower development, in the very high setting capacity from the moment the bees start to work on it… It is rising to the challenge with quality, fruit uniformity and calibre in early cycle, in a year that has been very difficult regarding stability.”
As it has been specifically designed for this region, the Graciano variety has been able to overcome this year’s extreme conditions, offering very good behaviour with a vegetative-productive balance. “We are very satisfied. With Graciano, the buyers are finding the best variety option: it guarantees good grooves, good long-lasting flavour and post-harvest,” Víctor García summarises.
Although it has been developed for Almeria, Graciano also adapts to Murcia and La Mancha, in early cycle.
On the other hand, they are continuing to develop their Romolo line, the round, single-person piel de sapo and they are underscoring the technical specialisation needed with producers, as this speciality requires a specific treatment.
They are extending the watermelon range
In watermelons, the black seedless variety, Jamaica, previously under the brand Zeraim, has been incorporated to Syngenta’s catalogue. They are promoting it for early sowing (transplants in January). As has occurred with Graciano, Jamaica has also guaranteed quality and calibre during a complicated year in early cycle. “It was very important to validate it in the earliest plantations in January and it has shown that it offers very good internal quality and setting, with calibre and uniformity.” Jamaica is the counterpart, in the black watermelon segment, of Red Jasper in the white segment and it offers adaptability to all cycles, both in greenhouses and in the open air, in all regions.
Parallel to this, Syngenta wants to extend its range of calibres and it is working on the development of a range of black watermelons, as they have already done with white watermelons (with materials that range from the largest calibre, with Kasmira, to the mini white seedless.)
This year they already have a material in pre-introduction as a complement to Jamaica. It is smaller, with pieces weighing between 4-5 kg, more aimed at the export market.
What is in the pipeline?
Within the framework of its annual melon and watermelon open days in Murcia, the seed company will show its entire portfolio for Spain and Portugal, including the abovementioned new developments and the ones that are in the pipeline.
“In watermelons, we are carrying on working on the white seedless line, and we will show two new varieties for greenhouse and open-air cultivation that continue in the same line as Red Jasper and Kasmira. Additionally, we are maintaining the line of work in ultra-firm flesh for processing and in yellow-fleshed mini watermelons.”