The story of Jochgem
‘Robust spinach all summer long’
Dutch company W. Heemskerk based in the town of Rijnsburg processes all kinds of fruit and vegetables – whether for in bags on supermarket shelves or for on hamburgers sold by fast-food chains. Jogchem van Daalen, Purchasing Manager at Heemskerk, visits Rijk Zwaan’s demo days in Fijnaart every year. This autumn, he found something that he’d been seeking for a long time: a summer spinach with robust leaves.
“Spinach is a growth product for us. It can be a tricky crop to work with, especially in the summer. If the weather stays warm for any length of time, the spinach grows tremendously quickly and the leaves are thin. Thin leaves are more susceptible to damage in our washing and drying process, so by the time the spinach reaches the best-before date it no longer looks its best.
For the spring and autumn, there are enough varieties with thicker leaves that are able to withstand processing. Those leaves are often semi-savoy, or in other words a little crinkled. I was afraid that it would be difficult to rinse the dirt off them, but that's no problem at all.”
Striving for continuity
“Continuity is important to us. We want to be able to supply perfect spinach, week in week out. However, for a long time there weren’t any savoy varieties for the summer period. Goanna RZ only became available on a larger scale earlier this year. I saw two other promising newcomers for the summer at the Rijk Zwaan demo days: 51-712 RZ and 51-713 RZ, both with robust, dark-green, velvety leaves that remind me a little of wild spinach.
You can’t assess characteristics like that from behind your desk; you really have to get out into the field. I don’t dictate to growers what they should produce but I do discuss the opportunities with them. Trial seeds are already available for these new varieties, so we’ll be able to see how they perform in practice.”