Celery and celeriac tend to be popular among consumers who buy organic products because they are healthy vegetables packed full of vitamins and minerals. Growers are keen to work with strong varieties that can be planted early and are not susceptible to blight. According to the specialists at Rijk Zwaan, these three celeriac and five celery varieties are a good choice.
Merga RZ is the main celeriac variety for organic production in northwest Europe. Thanks to its strength against the late blight organism Septoria apiicola, it is a safe choice. “This variety is suitable for early planting. Besides that, it has a nice shape, strong dark foliage and a decent shelf life. It’s a good option for both the fresh market and the processing sector,” says Rijk Zwaan’s Arno van Oers.
President RZ is a hugely dependable variety that has been grown across large parts of Europe for many years. This is another variety that is strong against blight, the specialist explains: “It’s a very reliable variety. It can be planted early, albeit a little later than Merga RZ. The root is a bit coarser but the foliage is nice and dark.”
Otago RZ is a celeriac that is ideal for cold storage. The white root has a good density and an attractive shape. “This variety has multiple growing points, which is an advantage in some markets. However, it’s slightly less robust against Septoria,” continues Van Oers.
The market for celery has grown significantly in recent years. Van Oers: “Celery is becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient in smoothies and as a healthy snack. This sales potential makes it attractive for organic growers.” Unlike celeriac, celery is widely grown in southern Europe too.
Kelvin RZ is the main organic celery variety in Europe, according to Van Oers and his Spanish colleague Santiago Gastón de Iriarte: “This variety is strong against blight, blackheart and bolting. It can be produced from early to late. Besides that, Kelvin RZ is dark green in colour and has nice long stalks, which makes it popular among customers. Additionally, the variety does not tend to produce side shoots. This facilitates easy harvesting and cleaning.”
Girisha RZ is a new celery variety that is now being produced commercially on a large scale for the first time. “Customers are very satisfied with its performance. Just like Kelvin RZ, it is strong against blight and blackheart. Girisha RZ has long and very dark green stalks. This variety doesn’t tend to produce side shoots either, so it’s easy to harvest,” adds Van Oers.
Imperial RZ is a variety that is predominantly grown in southern Europe explains Gastón de Iriarte, who is Rijk Zwaan’s celery specialist in Spain. “This variety has dark green stalks and is strong against blackheart and can stand in the field longer without turning pithy.” Gastón de Iriarte advises organic growers to consider Tejal RZ for growing in the winter period because it is strong against bolting.
He also regards the medium-sized celery variety Devika RZ as a good choice because of its upright habit and lack of side shoots for easier harvesting. “Moreover, this variety is strong against blight,” concludes the Spanish celery specialist.