The New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) has been causing serious problems for squash growers in the Mediterranean region for close to a decade. The plant virus can attack the foliage and the fruits in any stage of cultivation, resulting in smaller, misshapen fruits and ultimately a lower yield. Following years of research, vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan has now introduced the first squash varieties with resistance to the New Delhi virus.
A team of researchers and breeders from Rijk Zwaan in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy have succeeded in developing a number of high-yielding squash varieties with particularly good fruit quality and the resistance to the New Delhi virus. “There is huge market demand for such products. Even though Rijk Zwaan is still a relatively small player in squash, we wanted to offer a solution for growers who are affected by this virus,” comments María Lourdes Pérez Aguilera, Squash Breeder at Rijk Zwaan in Spain. The company has now taken an important step in this segment with the launch of squash varieties with resistance to the New Delhi virus.
Benefits throughout the chain
This resistance is not only of great interest to squash growers, but also offers significant benefits for other partners in the fresh produce value chain. After all, a more stable supply of higher-quality and more sustainable products can help to improve the sales market at various stages in the chain.
Extending the reach
Rijk Zwaan is working hard to ensure that varieties with resistance to this unpredictable virus are available for as many growers as possible. Varieties have been tested in external conditions during the past season and this spring we will have a few more trials that can be visited by interested customers. In parallel with the production process, the Rijk Zwaan team is continuing the breeding work to extend this resistance to the company’s other open field and protected cultivation squash varieties.
Defense label indicates strong and resilient varieties
As a vegetable breeding company, Rijk Zwaan is constantly innovating to develop strong and resilient varieties that produce high-quality vegetables in various climate zones and under various growing conditions. Rijk Zwaan markets its varieties that have groundbreaking, innovative resistances under the Defense label. The squash varieties with New Delhi resistance definitely fall into that category and will therefore be sold under the Delhi Defense label.
About the New Delhi virus
The Tomato Leaf Curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) was first discovered on tomato plants in India in 1995. In 2012, the same virus was found on squash plants at production sites in Spain. The virus soon spread rapidly across the Iberian Peninsula, causing major problems for Spanish growers. Complete harvests failed in 2014, creating serious disruption in the whole fresh produce supply chain. In that same year, the virus spread to Italy, Tunisia, Morocco and other Mediterranean countries. In fact, on the island of Sicily, the virus outbreak was so severe that growers were forced to switch to cultivating other crops. This has largely wiped out squash production on the island.