The snack vegetable radish mix: colourful, healthy, and Best Product of the Year

In the Nederlandse Consumentenverkiezing (Dutch Consumer Election) of 2023-2024, the AH Snack Vegetable Radish Mix, for which Hazera produces and breeds the radish seeds, has been elected as the Best Product of the Year in the category of potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. Dirk-Jan Polak, Crop Specialist in radishes, lamb’s lettuce, and baby carrots, sees the award as a compliment for the entire chain behind this product. “You help people make healthier choices.”


According to Dirk-Jan, the success story of the radish mix begins with genetics. “This ensures that we can continuously deliver high-quality seeds, allowing the grower to produce an excellent final product. Our radishes are beautifully round, have good internal quality, and grow very consistently during different seasons and weather conditions.” As a market leader in radish seeds, seed quality is a top priority at Hazera. “Credit for this goes to the breeders,” says Dirk-Jan. “Through continuous development, we have been able to introduce distinctive radish varieties to the market.”

 

Unique combination
In addition to genetics and seed quality, it’s the ability to produce radishes in various colors that makes the difference. “Purpella F1 and Whitella F1, purple and white radishes respectively, are the only two colored radish varieties cultivated on a serious scale. And they come from Hazera.” Combined with the well-known red radishes, these colored varieties form the AH Snack Mix. An idea from grower Ortolanda, says Dirk-Jan. “The mix of various colored radishes, sold in top seal packaging, aligns with the growing demand for snack vegetables, Ad Coolbergen, managing director of Ortolanda, explains.

 

Growing together
“We always keep the consumer in mind, on whose plate our product ultimately ends up. That’s why the collaboration throughout the chain is so important.” Dirk-Jan refers to the cooperation between Hazera, Ortolanda, Bakker Barendrecht (a Greenyard company) and Albert Heijn, from which the award-winning radish mix originated. “Breeding, developing, growing, and marketing these types of products requires craftsmanship.” Ad confirms this. “The successful introduction of a new product in the market requires good chain collaboration, where everyone is on the same page. This way, we can collectively meet the market’s needs and respond to consumer trends.”This has been excellently achieved with the radish mix, says Dirk-Jan. “The trend for 2024 is healthy snacking, where people choose vegetables and fruits instead of candy or chips. This radish mix perfectly addresses this trend, fulfilling two important consumer needs: healthy and convenient snacking.” Ad expects the mix to appeal to an entirely new, mainly younger, target audience. The radishes look appealing, are healthy, and are ready to eat straight from the container. With this product, Albert Heijn makes healthy snacking accessible.” Hazera and Ortolanda are both proud to contribute to this.”

 

Stay on track
Dirk-Jan is optimistic about the future, both in terms of the product and within the chain collaboration. “Radish is a beautiful vegetable that helps people make healthier choices. The fact that the AH Snack Vegetable Radish Mix has been chosen as the best product is a recognition that, with our breeders and partners, we are on the right path and an encouragement to continue the constant development of such products.”

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Meet the people behind the crops: Dirk-Jan Polak

Meet the people behind the crops: Dirk-Jan Polak

At Hazera, we are proud of our dedicated team, which works passionately to provide our growers with the best products. While our products often grab the headlines, it is the Hazera team who are behind our success. Let’s shine the spotlight on Dirk-Jan Polak (57), a Commercial Crop Specialist from Poortugaal, Netherlands, who plays a vital role in our organization.


Dirk-Jan has agriculture running in his veins. He shares with a smile. “My family history is quite interesting. We are a real food family. We are growers, fishermen, butchers, and bakers. In fact, just near our head office in Oosteind, you can find a bakery, the Bakery Polak, a legacy of my family.” For eight years, Dirk-Jan was a game dealer and built the Hollands Wild brand together with Jo Kloet. “We were the odd ones in the meat world.” Dirk-Jan laughed. “Because Jo had been a marketing director at Rijk Zwaan and I had had my vegetable-cutting company.” He joined Hazera two years ago as a Commercial Crop Specialist for radishes, corn salad, and baby carrots. His dedication to his work and crops is shown in the success of various projects. A recent example is the radish mix, where Dirk-Jan’s contributions played an important part and helped the project earn the prestigious title of Best Product of the Year in the Dutch Consumer Election.

What is a common myth about your job or field of expertise?

When asked about a misconception in his field, Dirk-Jan responds: “Most people who are no longer connected to our agriculture and horticulture hardly realize how professional and efficient we have become, but also how dependent we still are on nature and have to deal with it and every day.’’

In your opinion, what is the most important personality trait someone would need to work in your industry?

Dirk-Jan believes effective communication is crucial in his role as a Commercial Crop Specialist. “I act as the bridge between growers and Hazera, facilitating the flow of needs and solutions. It’s not just about delivering products; it’s about understanding the growers’ challenges, market demands, and regulatory landscapes,” he explains. “So, we can provide them a solution for the right varieties, the right calibers at the right time, in the right place.”

Which project are you proud of and why?

Dirk-Jan said immediately with a smile: “The radish mix was a nice project. It was the idea of a grower at Ortolanda to put three different colored radishes (purple, red, and white) in one box. It kind of looks like a rainbow radish box. This radish mix opened a new, so-called “snack radish” market, which is attractive for a new target group of consumers, the younger generation.” Continues Dirk-Jan with excitement. “It even caught the attention of Albert Heijn, a major Dutch supermarket, positioning radishes in a new, health-focused spotlight. It is also good and healthy for the people because, with the radish mix box, they eat three kinds of radish at once.”

What does “Hazera – Growing Together” mean to you?

“I like this slogan, because we as Hazera, as a breeder, are at the beginning of the whole food chain and this position comes with a great responsibility. That is why it is important to grow together with our growers, and our customers by listening to them and creating varieties that are needed for the markets to be able to feed the world sustainably in the future. This slogan also refers to the great team we have at Hazera that works together.”

Can you tell us something about yourself that most people do not know?

“I am an enthusiastic person, who always thinks of solutions. I think there is a solution to all the problems, but it is very important to communicate with your colleagues and customers. For many years I used to work primarily in Dutch and the transition to work mainly in English has been a bit difficult.” Dirk-Jan admits with a candid smile. “But it is getting better, and I try to be the ambassador and communicator for my crops and role.”

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Press Release: IR ToBRFV varieties in pipeline

Press release
August 2022

Hazera announces varieties with intermediate resistance (IR) to Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) in pipeline

Hazera is proud to announce the launch of our ToBRFV intermediate resistant varieties- the optimal balance between protection and performance– providing the grower an effective tool to face the highly infectious virus, infecting tomato plants, fruit and affecting growers worldwide. The Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus poses a constant threat to growers worldwide, significantly reducing yields, affecting the quality of fruit, and systematically infecting other plants, as it is a very transmittable virus that can infect through soil, tools, water, and people’s contact.

Since ToBRFV hit, Hazera’s R&D team has been working tirelessly to find varieties capable of giving an effective level of ToBRFV resistance without compromising the yield and fruit quality we’ve invested years to perfect. Over the course of several years, Hazera researchers and agronomists invested endless resources to find solutions to address our growers’ needs worldwide. Moreover, according to Alejandro Szechtman, Hazera’s Portfolio Marketing Director, “These efforts included in-depth trials in many locations, under different conditions in a global scale, to confirm that we are able to provide the optimal solutions, with the right balance between performance and ToBRFV protection”.

Hazera is proud to announce a wide ToBRFV resistant variety pipeline worldwide, with which we will be able to tailor-make the optimal solution per market requirement, beginning with Italy, Greece, Spain, Mexico, Turkey, Israel etc’.

Hazera, through Limagrain’s upstream research, contributed to a network of internal and external collaborative discovery projects on ToBRFV using different approaches. This resulted in Limagrain being the first company to file a patent on ToBRFV resistance in tomato in 2017. While the first generation of tomato hybrids resistant to ToBRFV is being commercialized, Limagrain discovery programs continue to work intensively to find resistances against potential emergent more aggressive forms of this devastating virus.

“Our R&D efforts haven’t ended, we’re still investing to achieve higher resistance, and expand our portfolio to the benefit of growers worldwide,” said Szechtman.

Hazera is a global leader in the seed industry. Hazera has headquarters in both the Netherlands and Israel. We operate subsidiaries in 11 countries, together with a distribution network serving over 130 markets. Our partners operate in all kinds of climates, and under diverse growing conditions and market requirements. For over a century, our top priority has been walking alongside them, developing an enormous variety of seeds and providing comprehensive support every step of the way. Hazera’s team of experts works directly with growers to evaluate their needs, assist during variety selection and provide guidance and support throughout the crop cycle.

Hazera is part of the Limagrain Group, an international agri-business based in France. Being a farmers’ cooperative, the Limagrain Group understands the needs of its customers and has grown to become the largest seed company in Europe, specialising in vegetables, field crops and cereal products. Limagrain’s vegetable seed division is the second largest company in the industry.

ToBRFV in Tomato Plants

by Dr. Yaniv Rotem – Solanaceae Pathologist, Hazera

 

General background

The Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus – ToBRFV – is a relatively new viral disease, first appearing in the Middle East in 2014. The disease has since spread rapidly to many other areas in the world, and currently constitutes a major global problem in tomato crop production worldwide.

In Israel, all tomato production areas have been severely affected by ToBRFV, and the effects of the disease are evident both in the tomato greenhouses and fields, and in the quality and appearance of the fruits which are sold.

 

Symptoms of the disease

As a rule, the symptoms of the disease are similar to the typical symptoms of ToMV, but the severity of the symptoms can differ from that known with ToMV:

  • In the leaves – a mosaic appears, which is particularly noticeable on young leaves and at the growth vertices. In some cases, there is narrowing of the leaflet blade, and in certain cases the leaves become entirely threadlike (“shoestrings”).
  • In the fruit – yellow spots develop which become necrotic at a later stage. In some cases, “chocolate spots” appear on the fruit. In cases of severe damage, the fruit becomes wrinkled and distorted. The virus name (“Brown Rugose Fruit”) was given due to the wrinkled appearance together with the brown spots.
  • Note that in contrast to the characteristic situation when affected by ToMV, in which symptoms generally appear in the fruit only in cases of particularly severe damage to the foliage, in the case of ToBRFV – there is no connection between the severity of damage to the fruit and severity of damage to the foliage: there are situations in which serious damage to the fruit is observed while no symptoms appear on the leaves, or vice versa – cases of severe symptoms in the foliage and lack of symptoms in the fruit.
  • In certain cases – necrosis develops of the calyx of the fruit, the fruit peduncle, and the central spine of the cluster of fruit.
  • When a susceptible variety is infected with ToBRFV, the main damage is a significant weakening of the plant and its capability to produce clusters of fruits over a long season.

In the wake of the viral infection, tomato cultivation in Israel has changed entirely: due to the weakening of the plants, growers currently have almost no possibility to grow tomatoes in a long central season of 9-10 months as was customary before the virus’s appearance; instead, shorter growing seasons of 4-5 months are now customary, intended for harvesting a few clusters only.

 

Symptoms on leaves – severe mosaic and narrowing of some of the leaf lobes, to the point of appearing “thready”

 

Severe symptoms in the fruits

Symptoms of necrosis in the calyx, fruit peduncle and the spine of the cluster

Weakening of the plant as a result of viral infection in a susceptible variety (on right) compared to a variety that is largely similar to it but is resistant to the virus (on left).

 

How is the disease transmitted?

  • ToBRFV is very easily transmitted mechanically – by human contact, by work tools, support wires, or any entity that comes in physical contact with an infected plant or soil that contains the virus and later comes in contact with healthy plants. It is important to remember that particles of this virus are particularly resistant to environmental conditions, and are capable of surviving for long periods in soil or on infected surfaces.
  • Since the virus is capable of surviving in soil for a long period – the virus is also transferred with infected soil that is moved from one place to another (by sticking to shoes, to work tools that are moved from one plot to another, etc.).
  • The virus is transmitted in seeds – a seed produced from an infected plant is likely to carry virus particles on its surface.
  • The virus can also be transmitted by bumble bees, which serve to pollinate during the cultivation process.

 

Prevention and treatment

  • Since the outbreak of the disease, Hazera together with Limagrain Group have been working on a comprehensive study of the issue, in which tomato varieties with intermediate levels of resistance to the virus were developed. The first patent in the world for resistance to ToBRFV was registered by Limagrain in 2017. Using these varieties provides an optimal solution for growing tomatoes in conditions of infections with ToBRFV, while maintaining the varieties performance.
  • Observing phytosanitary rules is key to preventing the disease:
    • Making sure to have clean clothes, jackets and gloves for those entering the greenhouses.
    • Making sure to sterilize all equipment used.
    • Sterilizing shoes in an immersion pit upon entrance to the greenhouse.
    • Being strict about the order in which buildings are entered – the workday begins with the buildings housing the young, healthy plants and continues to the buildings housing the more mature plants.
  • Plants in which infection is discovered should be immediately removed from the greenhouse, being careful to avoid contact with neighboring plants.
  • Using healthy seeds and seedlings is another key to preventing the disease. Hazera is strict about performing health tests in licensed laboratories, according to international standards and the Plant Protection Services. Checking that seeds are free of ToBRFV is done by the ISHI Protocol, which is the international protocol accepted throughout the world.
  • Being strict about good sanitization – sterilizing the soil or growth medium and the greenhouse space when cultivation is completed.

 

 

Tomato SHANTY F1 – Côte d’Ivoire

Well done! goes to our friends at “Senin Group”, our representors at Ivory Coast, for the work done with local growers and successful results with Tomato SHANTY F1. This hybrid produce big size, high quality firm fruits, supported by good plant frame. For more Hazera products, please contact the team. See you at the fields!

Continue reading “Tomato SHANTY F1 – Côte d’Ivoire”

Onion RUSSET F1

Onion RUSSET F1 is clearly one of the leaders in our Africa’s Onion portfolio. Those great pics of High Yield, great Quality and Uniform Harvest been sent to us from beautiful Tanzania. Please contact our distributor, Balton Tanzania, for more Hazera products, including Tomatoes GALILEA F1 and GALILEA IMPROVED F1.

Continue reading “Onion RUSSET F1”

Hazera’s Official Training Video: Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV)

We are happy to present Hazera’s training video and sanitation guide for dealing with the new ToBRFV virus.

The purpose of this video is to assist growers and farmers to gain a better understanding of the ToBRFV virus, and to share some practical advice and active measures for eradicating the growth of this virus through the use of stringent hygiene and highly effective sanitation. Continue reading “Hazera’s Official Training Video: Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV)”