Group Coordinator Wim in ’t Groen divides spinach varieties for the fresh market into three types: early (fast-growing), mid-early (medium fast-growing) and late (slow-growing) varieties. Babyleaf is the most widely grown type for this market.
Hornbill RZ is an early variety that is grown a lot in Italy for autumn and winter production, according to Paride Zamagne, the Italian spinach crop specialist. “It’s a very attractive, vigorous variety with strong resistance to leaf diseases. Hornbill RZ is resistant to most races of downy mildew (Peronospora effusa, PE), but not to the latest race 19, nor to local unnamed isolates. If the mildew pressure is low, this variety is a good choice.”
Bandicoot RZ is another early variety. It has extensive HR resistance to Pe:1-16, 18, 19 IR Pe:17 and also a level of resistance against local isolates. Santiago Gaston de Iriarte, a spinach specialist in Spain: “The latest race Pe:18 occurs regularly in Spain, so organic growers choose this variety. It’s a smooth spinach variety with oval leaves and long stems for the babyleaf and convenience markets. This variety is also very strong against leaf diseases.”
The early savoy type Platypus RZ is a good choice for north-west Europe. Wim: “It’s a reliable and robust variety that offers high yields. It germinates very easily and is less susceptible to leaf spots. It is susceptible to PE races 18 and 19, however. Organic growers opt for Platypus RZ when there’s low mildew pressure in the spring.”
The mid-early smooth-leaf variety Kodiak RZ has PE resistances 1-19,, making it a reliable choice for organic growers. It is chosen by growers in Italy, north-west Europe and Spain. “This is a smooth spinach variety with dark green leaves. The plant grows upright and it is very resistant to leaf diseases,” explains Santiago.
Sunangel RZ is another mid-early variety of the savoy type and is chosen by organic growers in Spain, Italy and north-west Europe. “This is an all-rounder that germinates easily, has an attractive leaf shape and a high yield,” Wim explains. It has high resistance to PE: 1-9, 11-19 and intermediate resistance to PE:10.
When it comes to late, slow-growing spinach varieties, Cugoe RZ is a good option. Wim: “It has a thick leaf and very good yields. The leaf remains attractive even in high densities. Organic growers in Italy often choose Cugoe RZ. The variety is susceptible to PE race 18, however, which poses a risk in situations with high downy mildew pressure.”
The successor to Cugoe RZ is Budgerigar RZ. This has similar qualities – attractive leaves and good yields – as well as resistance to HR Pe:1-9, 11-18 IR Pe:10.
Gecko RZ is a late variety with full resistances PE: 1-19, and for that reason it is often chosen in Spain. Spinach specialist Santiago explains why: “The variety has a very dark colour and upright growing habit with oval pointed leaves.”
Cabezon RZ is a late, slow-growing spinach variety for organic growers in north-west Europe. Wim: “The variety is PE:1-19 resistant and it is very resistant to leaf diseases. That makes Cabezon RZ a reliable choice for organic growers. It is a savoy type with a dark green leaf and an upright leaf arrangement.”
Boa RZ has for many years been the most popular choice of organic spinach for industrial cultivation in the summer in north-west Europe. Johan Decroos, industry account manager: “Its high vigour means weeds have no chance. The high yield is also attractive to growers. The good leaf/stem ratio and slow bolting make Boa RZ an ideal, flexible variety for customers in terms of harvesting and processing.”
Puma RZ is a very good alternative to Boa RZ for summer cultivation in north-west Europe, when there is a high chance of mildew. “This variety also has mildew resistance to the new PE races 18 and 19. Like Boa RZ, it is a vigorous and slow-bolting variety,” Johan explains. Another notable variety for this type of cultivation is Serow RZ, which is also slow bolting and fully PE resistant.
In spring and autumn crops the Rhino RZ is the most widely grown organic industry variety in north-west Europe, according to Johan. “The high vigour of Rhino RZ prevents weeds. That vigour is necessary because organic growers only use organic fertilisers. The organic spring crop starts later than the conventional crop, because it is only then that mineralisation starts. Other advantages of Rhino RZ are that it is slow bolting and has the right leaf/stem ratio.”
Alternatives for spring and autumn crops in north-west Europe are the newer varieties Silverwhale RZ and Bonobo RZ. Both varieties have extensive PE resistances, including the new races 18 and 19, in addition to their good leaf/stem ratio. Those good resistances mean that Bonobo RZ is also grown a lot for industrial use in Italy, according to Paride Zamagna, the Italian crop specialist. “The variety also has a good tolerance for bolting.”
Pachyderm RZ is also a popular industry variety for organic cultivation in Italy. “It is suited to late autumn and winter production. It is a very fast variety. Because of the high resistance to PE:1-15, 17 and intermediate resistance to PE:16, 18, 19 it is a reliable choice,” says Paride, the Italian spinach crop specialist.
Organic growers in Italy often choose the industry variety Bilby RZ for spring and autumn crops. Paride explains why: “It has a good tolerance to bolting and good PE resistances: high resistance to PE:1-15, 17 and intermediate resistance to PE:16, 18, 19.”