HZPC breeding station effects a commercial research program which develops varieties for all markets and planting areas. With her 50 employees and 60 contracted breeders, HZPC has one of the world's largest variety development programs. The program is focused on variety development for many markets and countries in various continents with their specific climatologic circumstances.
The first years trials and selection take place in the Netherlands. Subsequently the clones are being included in an extensive foreign trial schedule. These adaptation trials take place in Europe (including Greece), North Africa, North America and West Asia.
During the introduction, the Research and Development and Sales and Marketing departments of HZPC closely cooperate. This approach makes sure that HZPC has a complete picture of the variety, once it will be introduced in the commercial market.
Annually approximately three new varieties of HZPC are being developed and released for introduction.
Greece participates in these breeding (adaptation) trials since 25 years ago. In close cooperation with HZPC experts, we test and evaluate every year around 300 new varieties. In these trials, 12 tubers (2 rows X 6 tubers) are manually planted from each variety. The majority of these varieties will be discarded during the long period of evaluation which takes place every year in many countries. Finally, very few varieties, "the best of the best", are able to survive and reach the marketing stage.
However, from such breeding trials, we were able to select and successfully introduce new modern varieties suitable for the Greek market, like Liseta, Mondial, Carlita, Fabula, Voyager, Carrera, Volumia, Vivaldi, Annabelle, Sylvana, Sifra, Remarka, Innovator, e.t.c. Before these trials, Spunta was the only variety of HZPC (at that time HETTEMA), which was monopolizing the Greek market for many years.
Interesting to know how a potato variety is created
Every different variety of potato started from a tiny "true seed" which grew a single plant, with several tiny potatoes under it. True potato seed is harvested from the berries that grow among the foliage of the potato plants. An average plant produces dozens of berries, each of which contains hundreds of tiny seeds, similar in appearance to tomato seed.
Each seed gives a plant which produces small tubers, which are the first tubers of the new variety. From this stage on, the maintenance and the multiplication of a variety is done only with tubers. The word "potato seed" in the Potato Seed Business is referred to certified tubers used for multiplication or production of ware potatoes. By selecting the proper parents for crossing, breeders can transfer desirable resistances (against: Phytophthora blight, PCN, Viruses, Common Scab, e.t.c.) and other characteristics (earliness, flesh color, tuber shape and size, cooking qualities, e.t.c.) to the new varieties. The time frame for a new variety starting from the "true potato seed" to full marketing takes at least 10-15 years. It's a time consuming, costly and highly specialized area of potato production.