Hazera is an imminent global cucumber specialist

The vegetable seed company Hazera has a long history of growing cucumbers. Hazera contributed to the birth of improvements in cucumber genetics, especially in the minicucumber. While continuing these improvements, the company is also adopting other varieties, conquering new markets and exploring new marketing possibilities. A roundup of the latest developments with Hazera’s Global Cucurbit Product Manager, Mark van der Zouwen.
Hazera, un inminente especialista global del pepino
Beit Alfa pepinoCucumber comes in a wide range of varieties, from 10cm baby cucumbers for snacking to the famous 30cm cucumbers for non-heated or high-tech heated greenhouses, with mini cucumbers (also known as beit alpha), slicers, varieties for making pickles, as well as a wide variety of Asian varieties. Mark van der Zouwen tells us, “The Hazera story began with the mini cucumber, which is mainly grown in non-heated greenhouses in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, Central Asia, as well as in the Americas. Today mini cucumbers are also grown in heated greenhouses in North America and Northern Europe. Currently, Hazera covers the entire range. Since the 1980s we have introduced many groundbreaking innovations; for example, significant improvements in fruit quality (uniform shape and colour), a drastic improvement in production, adaptability to different growing conditions and, more recently, long shelf life. In the early eighties we also began to specialize in the long variety for non-heated greenhouses, especially in the Mediterranean region. Here we introduced similar innovations, including extended shelf life (many will remember the Suprami variety), and recently created varieties with combined resistance to both powdery mildew and viral diseases such as CVYV and CYSDV.

minipepinos In mini varieties, Hazera is currently among the top 3 cultivation companies in the world, with varieties very well adapted to the Mediterranean, Middle East and Central American markets, «Our market shares in mini varieties they are growing steadily, and we have expanded our cultivation activities, locating them in the very center of these regions. In addition to the highly successful varieties for spring-summer such as Bereket and Dennis, we are now launching new varieties also for the most stressful cold season as successors to Cohiba. A very interesting development is the midi cucumber for heated greenhouses like our Nikifor spring-autumn variety, which is giving high yields and high fruit quality, for example in Poland, where high-tech growers are using it.”, Mark said. Recently the Hazera crop has also been preparing strong business prospects with the baby cucumber, with 8-12cm fruits, which are rapidly gaining popularity in many markets where healthy snacks and convenience are seeing a real boom. The long variety is receiving a lot of attention once again, boosted by new cultivation activities in Spain. Here, Hazera recently launched the highly successful Batallón variety for Almería and the Granada region. Mark tells us, “This is a winter variety with excellent color, length and durability, and virus resistance. We are sure that the development in the cultivation of long cucumbers in Spain will have a positive consolidation in other regions with similar growing conditions, such as Greece, Mexico, Oceania and South Africa.”

larga pepinoOne of the latest developments is activities to enter the Chinese market, for which Hazera has recently started cultivation activities. Mark tells us, “With our wealth of experience as a solid foundation, our ambition is to incorporate the needs and varieties for the Chinese market into our programs. If we want to establish ourselves as a global specialist, we must be present in this growing market, which is the largest in the world and very open to innovations. China’s cultivation and consumption are very different from those in other regions. Therefore, we must be very attentive and respect the needs and traditions of the Chinese, while offering innovation in our products.” What will the future look like in cucumber for Hazera? Mark replies, “We will extend our farming activities to all important regions for this global harvest. Our rich gene pool will be used to create a genetic diversity perfectly suited to the main production areas. Disease resistance, especially root and viral diseases, will be crucial, and could be a way to avoid costly grafting. We will adapt our varieties to high-yield cultivation techniques. And last but not least, we will develop products that meet the needs of the entire fresh produce chain. The objective is to search for possible innovations to convert bulk products into products that offer greater convenience and ensure greater added value for consumers. After all, they are the ones who consume the final product and for whom we work day after day.”

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