Cut out cauliflower waste
Last summer’s high temperatures and long days of bright sunshine created incredibly challenging conditions for cauliflower growers to deliver consistent supplies and quality.
New varieties offering greater reliability in maturity and better white curd retention really came into their own under intense pressure, according to Syngenta Brassica Specialist, Louis Stokes.
“We have been seeing gradual improvements, year-on-year, with new variety introductions. But with Almagro growers have experienced a step change in reliability and quality,” he reported.
“Even in the hot, dry weather, Almagro continued to be extremely reliable in growing days to maturity, when other varieties were all over the place that made scheduling incredibly difficult.”
Furthermore, Louis highlighted the variety’s good wrap of leaves over the curd ensured a high cut out of quality heads (below) – which proved particularly valuable with supressed consumers’ demand over the hot summer seeing little market for anything but Class I quality heads.
“With the consistent growth and maturity, growers were reporting high cut rates - some in excess of 85% - on the first pass,” he said. “Where labour is becoming an ever increasing issue, fast cutting and achieving high yields in one or two passes will be a crucial attribute for variety selection.”
Louis also pointed out that the uniformity of the head size and appearance with Almagro reduces incidence of consumers sorting through stocks on the shelf – with a reduction associated damage and waste.
“It’s now recognised that variety genetics can play a hugely significant role in reducing waste at every level of the value chain,” he advocated. “At a field level, higher marketable yields reduces waste left in the field, and makes more efficient use of all the resources employed in growing the crop - including land, water, fertiliser and labour, for example.
“But variety traits also make the difference in reducing waste and costs of processing for florets, as well as in transport and on the shelf.”
The genetics of the latest cauliflower varieties being developed by Syngenta, including Almagro and new Andromeda - the first of the Destinica brand of Syngenta cauliflowers - have been selected to meet demands across the whole value chain.
Target summer pests
Growers are reminded that brassicas cannot be sown with a Verimark drench where new Minecto One is to be used as a foliar application for insect pests later in the season. However, for early Cabbage Root Fly control, Spinosad can still be used at planting.
For cauliflowers, the primary target will be caterpillars, including Silver-Y and Plutella on the label. However, the multi-pest activity has also been shown to give incidental control of sucking pests, including Whitefly, thrips and leaf miners. There is also useful control of later generations of Cabbage Root Fly.
Syngenta Technical Manager, Simon Jackson, advised: “For sucking pests trials have shown results can be enhanced with the addition of methylated rapeseed oil adjuvant in the tank mix - such as Phase II, for example.
"That mix has also been shown to give a good reduction in aphid numbers.”
Growers can make two applications of Minecto One per crop, with a minimum seven day interval between sprays. The harvest interval in cauliflowers and other brassica is an extremely useful three-days, he added.
See both Almagro and Andromeda performing in the field, at the Syngenta Brassica Platform site in July. More details to be published soon.