Construction has begun on a new greenhouse at the group’s facility in Dinteloord, marking the official start of its soft fruit breeding programme

Dutch vegetable seed specialist Rijk Zwaan has announced that it is adding a berry breeding programme to its operations.

Anton van Doornmalen Rijk Zwaan new berry facility construction begins April 2023

Rijk Zwaan co-owner Anton van Doornmalen at the construction of the group’s new greenhouse in Dinteloord

Rijk Zwaan said that the move into soft fruit was aimed at broadening its product portfolio with strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

Construction work for a new greenhouse at Rijk Zwaan’s facility in Dinteloord marked the official start of its soft fruit breeding programme, which represented ”a continuation of the company’s strategy of autonomous growth”.

“Soft fruit is traditionally propagated vegetatively rather than from seeds,” explained breeding manager Pieter Egelmeers. ”We are focusing on both in our breeding programme.

”Building on our knowledge of research, breeding and seed production, we hope to bring new and innovative strawberry, blackberry and raspberry varieties to the market that will of course add value for growers and other chain partners,” he noted.

On average, it can take between six and 16 years to breed a new variety, with Egelmeers putting no specific timeframe on when varieties would be available commercially.

“We are still at the very beginning of our soft fruit breeding programme, so it is too early to say when Rijk Zwaan’s first soft fruit varieties will be ready to market,” he confirmed.

The facilities for the soft fruit breeding programme will be housed in a new building, which involves the construction of a greenhouse plus an office. The new building is an extension of Rijk Zwaan’s existing facility in Dinteloord.

Construction work officially started on Tuesday 18 April, in the presence of board member Kees Reinink and Rijk Zwaan co-owner Anton van Doornmalen. The work is expected to be completed in 2024.