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Motutapu fresh spinach variety a winner

A field of baby leaf spinach

Motutapu fresh spinach variety a winner

Growing new vegetable seed varieties to see how they perform in local conditions underpins the New Zealand operations of Seminis, which is part of Vegetables by Bayer.

A few years ago, the Nelson team at the Fresh Herb and Salad Company Ltd started some small screening trial plots with a new Seminis spinach variety called Motutapu. Baby leaf spinach is an important product line for their business, also known as Living Foods Co. for their retail and wholesale operations.

South Island Farm Manager Peter Parker says they are always looking for the best variety for all growing seasons throughout the year. “As spinach growers, we are constantly on the lookout for the ultimate variety; it needs to provide good uniformity at germination, vigour, yield and colour. Motutapu regularly showed us that it could hold in the field longer than some of its competitors and it’s a reliable performer for us.”

A major focus at Seminis (Vegetables by Bayer) in recent years has been to offer local spinach growers new varieties to reliably replace older varieties. 

“That’s exactly what we’ve done in collaboration with Hayden French at Fruitfed Supplies and the team at Fresh Herb and Salad with Motutapu replacing an older variety from our lineup,” says Nick Williams – Seminis Regional Business Manager. 

“It’s been fantastic to see the success of Motutapu at Fresh Herb and Salad’s Nelson farm over the last few years. Motutapu started in small scale screening trials and has now become critical part of their cool season spinach programme. Motutapu has shown it has a wide harvest window and is well adapted to the Nelson region, giving the team at Fresh Herb and Salad confidence in the variety across ever changing weather conditions.

“We value our collaborations with Fruitfed Supplies and spinach growers across the country as we look for varieties with more robust disease resistance and wider adaptability for local growing conditions. We appreciate Peter and the team at Fresh Herb and Salad growing trial plots of our next generation of Seminis spinach varieties this coming summer and we’re all looking forward to seeing how they perform, hopefully as well as or better than Motutapu.”

Hayden French, Technical Horticultural Representative with Fruitfed Supplies Richmond appreciates the effort that growers put into trialling new varieties. “It takes time to prepare the ground, sow the seed and look after the crop from both the spraying and fertiliser point of view. It is also a big commitment from growers to allow us use of some of their land which may be in short supply, so we really value them being willing to participate in this trial work to find varieties which maximise yield and productivity for all growers.”

Hayden says that once the trial plot crops are ready, personnel from Fresh Herb and Salad, Seminis (Vegetables by Bayer) and Fruitfed Supplies take the opportunity to assess the different varieties. 

“Some of the things we are looking for include colour, quality, weight, and seasonal growing timing that the variety is best suited to, as well as any other positives or negatives that we may notice. It is always good to be able to do this together as it generates some great discussion from all sides of the process.

“Motutapu was a variety that we only needed to look at once to realise it was a good performer. It had a nice dark green colour which is important for baby leaf spinach for consumer appeal. In Nelson, we find it’s best grown in either of the shoulder sowings, autumn to winter or winter to spring, but it also performs well through the winter period. Through that period, we need an adaptable variety to handle weather variations from year to year.”

Talk with your local Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative for more information about vegetable seed varieties available from Seminis (Vegetables by Bayer).