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Grower Solutions Magazine
Lefroy Valley Magazine

August 2004

Recently I had the enviable task of editing the latest edition of our Growers Solutions magazine, reading through the pages other Lefroy staff compiled and submitted. Articles about growers, new varieties, agronomic hints and advice as well as opinions on our industry, the good the bad and sometimes the ugly.

It's enlightening looking back over the last 5 -10 years of the vegetable industry and seeing just how much some areas have changed. As a grower, think about how many varieties you use now, compared to that of 10 or even 5 years ago. (Not many). Or were you even growing the same crops you grow today?

Things like baby leaf salad mixes and watermelons without seeds were virtually unknown. Now many growers make their living from producing those crops. What variety do you think you will be growing in another 10 years? It's unlikely to be the same variety as today, and maybe a completely different crop. Who knows maybe there will even be rockmelons that have consistent flavour and sweetness?

Oh yeah, we are releasing those now! Many growers are now becoming more aware that the most critical input to their farming success going forward, is not the type of fertiliser they use, or the chemicals they have available to them although those tools are important.

Plant breeding

As a grower your ability to produce the best crop possible, starts with identifying and selecting the best genetics (seed) to put in the ground on your farm. In Australia we now have large areas of vegetable production land, which has pests or diseases present, which without the development of new genetically resistant varieties would no longer be suitable for production of some crops. Fusarium race 3 in some areas in north Queensland will kill tomato plants without resistance. Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus is now a major threat to West Australian tomato growers, White blister on brassicas in Victoria, and pests like the Nasanova aphid in New Zealand, and more recently Australia, has caused major problems with lettuce.

The most effective and inexpensive way of combating these issues affecting growers and will continue to affect growers right across Australia and New Zealand, is by developing genetic resistance into the varieties you plant!

The same goes for important features like appearance, taste, yield, and nutritional value. Talk to people in the rockmelon industry and they will tell you, consumer confidence and satisfaction when it comes to flavour and sweetness in rockmelons and honey dews is very low. Consumers buy these fruit to get a sweet treat, but many are disappointed to the extent they choose to buy something else next time. Unfortunately that's negative passion.

Taste testing watermelons

So what about the positive passion. I know growers are passionate about what they do and most strive to turn out the best product they can, after all it's their name on the carton that gets sent around the country, "the ultimate judgement day".

When it comes to consumers, believe it or not they are passionate about the vegetables they eat. Particularly being in the vegetable industry, many people I meet often ask me why don't certain vegetables taste like they use to.

I know the seed breeding companies and their plant breeders are passionate because I see it everytime I visit them or talk to them. They want to be the one who breeds the next new variety that really makes it in the market. I know our product development, sales, and support staff are passionate, because I get to see the excitement on their face when they come in after working through a trial plot alongside a grower and have discovered something better, or a little special, that will give the grower that little bit of an edge.

Evaluating corn trials


What really gives us a buzz as seedsmen is being at the cutting edge of delivering new genetics to Australian growers and knowing that there is something special, new, or better about to be uncovered. It's a bit like digging for treasure.

Another thing that's exciting for so many of our field staff is the way more growers are becoming actively involved in finding genetic improvements that give them the edge. These are growers who understand the need to develop better genetics to support their future.

These are the really passionate growers who are not only demanding new varieties to meet their changing needs, to keep them ahead in the market, but are passionate enough to do something about it and get involved along side us, give feedback, and work together to achieve that goal.

Coming together is a beginning,
Keeping together is progress,
Working together is success.


Grower Solutions Magazine
Lefroy Valley Magazine

August 2004

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