Netherlands: Limgroup spearheads new asparagus varieties worldwide

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Netherlands: Limgroup spearheads new asparagus varieties worldwide

Catering to extreme differences in climate and cultivation conditions has become something of a specialist subject for Dutch company Limgroup, a vegetable seed breeder with close to 70 years’ experience in developing new asparagus varieties. Wit en groen_klf (2) edit}

This experience has increasingly added an international dimension to the company's business, expanding into markets well outside northern Europe while also augmenting its portfolio by developing strawberry and mushroom operations.

The global focus has led Limgroup to develop two new asparagus varieties, Frühlim and Terralim, which sales manager Piet Buerskens explains were bred to meet grower requirements in both warmer and cooler climates.

Best suited to well drained, sandy soils, Beurskens says the Frühlim asparagus is a 100% male hybrid bred for the production of white asparagus in mild climates.

"Frühlim is an early variety with a thick stem and a closed tip, which is best suited for production in polytunnels or using thermal production systems," he says.

Terralim, another 100% male hybrid which made its European debut at Fruit Logistica 2016 in early February, is also an early variety, suitable for forced early cultivation with the capacity to deliver very high class one yields, according to the company.

"Frühlim is a variety especially suited to early white asparagus production in north eastern Europe, whereas Terralim is a sweeter white variety that is better suited to warmer, more Mediterranean climates, such as Spain, southern France and Greece," Beurskens says.

International focus

Based in Horst, south east Netherlands, Limgroup has been active in breeding asparagus since the 1950s, having been initially created as part of the Foundation for Experimental Gardens in the north of the Dutch province of Limburg.

From 2009 onwards, Limgroup began moving into strawberry and mushroom breeding, with the focus very much on the global market.

Beurskens says the group's asparagus cultivars cover all main asparagus cultivation areas globally, with 13 varieties on the market.

"We have varieties suited to warm weather and also cooler and more moderate climates,” he says.

Warmer climates form some of Limgroup’s principal markets outside Europe, with the company maintaining a presence in countries such as Mexico, where asparagus production is assuming an ever greater importance.

“We are active in Mexico, especially with the Sunlim variety, where there has been a strong increase in the asparagus cultivation area,” says Beurskens.

A green variety – again a 100% male hybrid meaning no seedlings – Sunlim has been bred for early season production and delivers extremely high yields and consistently high quality.

Aside from asparagus, the development of new mushroom and strawberry varieties is very much on Limgroup’s agenda, although Beurskens says none of the products in development are as yet commercially available.

“We are increasing our trials of strawberries this year – the focus is on north west Europe and the hope is that we will be able to launch new varieties within two to three years,” he concludes.

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