The company NV Roger Maes is a seed breeding company specialized in field vegetables, herbs and grasses located in Kortrijk, 't Hoge 61.
NV Roger Maes is the only commercial company in Belgium that focuses on the breeding of field vegetables. This field vegetable cultivation is enormously important for Flemish and European agriculture and horticulture.
"Leeks are an important vegetable crop with economically favorable prospects."
Leeks are one of the most important vegetable crops in Belgium and especially in Flanders. It is cultivated by traditional vegetable, specialized arable and mixed farms, both for industry and for the fresh market. The leek area in Belgium is approximately 12% of the total vegetable area. A total of 120,000 tonnes of leeks are produced per year, 20% of which are destined for export.
Fresh leek has approximately an export value of 45 million euros, which makes up 3% of the total vegetable export.
Leeks are also important crops in neighboring countries. In the Netherlands, France, Great Britain and Germany, respectively. 3,700, 8,300, 2,600 and 2,400 hectares of leek cultivated. Within the EU, a total of just under 30,000 ha. leek grown. Driven by the new EU countries in Eastern Europe, further area expansion is expected to create a new potential market for leek seeds.
"Hybrid varieties are the future"
98% of the leek varieties are today hybrids, which have better growth power compared to the seed-resistant varieties,are more uniform and have more resistance to biotic and abiotic stress.
Since there are few hybrid leek leek varieties for harvest after the month of January, our selection focuses on this segment, namely the late leek that is sufficiently hardy.
Our current leek range contains leek varieties that are frost tolerant. This market segment is very important in NW Europe. Most of the varieties offered on the market are insufficiently hardy and lose their quality very quickly after a period of low temperatures and then require more working hours to make them ready for the market.
Testing the cold tolerance and wear resistance of the new leek hybrids to be developed requires field conditions that are specific to late autumn and winter. That is why the most obvious solution was winter hardiness and to quantify this, several screening tests were conducted where relatively harsh winters are almost guaranteed, in the northern part of Poland, in view of the growth markets of Eastern Europe. extra important.
The company Roger Maes NV has experience with plant breeding since 1946. From the late 1980s, leek breeding was effectively started, which led to the inclusion of 4 varieties on the Belgian variety lists: FM 2008 Fama - FM 2002 Makostar - FM 2005 Wendy and FM 2009 Dana.
In 2006, a start was made with its own breeding program for the development of hybrid leek varieties. We worked together with a hired external hybrid breeder. This resulted in a first series of 96 hybrids that were tested under Flemish conditions in 2010.
For the moment, the following hybrid varieties are permitted for commercialization, these are the Mako-Power - Mako-Nice - Mako-Bello varieties. and Mako-Flash.
The accumulated knowledge can also be applied to other crops that are bred on the farm, being celeriac - green celery - parsley - salsify - chicory - arugula - chervil and other herbs
"Protocol pests and diseases"
There is a collaboration with the Ghent University led by Dean Dr. Prof. Geert Haesaert, the intention is to place disease-free leek hybrid varieties on the market Ghent University College has extensive experience in collecting and cultivating fungi, infection techniques and conservation, both for biotrophic and non-biotrophic species. To this end, it has the appropriate infrastructure and qualified personnel. The trip test will be done in consultation with the Agrozoologie laboratory of UGent that belongs to the same Association research group as the plant production department of Hogent.
New lines are coming soon, these will be realized in collaboration with the cooperation of Ugent - our own breeders and Francis Maes.
The leek market currently consists of 98% leek hybrids.