Sakata Seed Inc., the Yokohama, Japan-based parent company of Sakata Seed America, is known internationally for its broccoli varieties and other cool-season crops.
Now the company wants to use that same breeding and development know-how to enhance its warm-season vegetable program.
"As a company, we're trying to be aggressive on the warm [season] crop side," says Atlee Burpee, Sakata product develpment manager and eastern sales manager based in Philadelphia.
In 2010, Sakata established a research station near Dixon, Calif., where a company cantaloupe breeder is based.
Sakata also has a research station near Ft. Myers, Fla., at which tomato, pepper, squash and watermelon breeders are based.
Together with its subsidiary Alf Christianson Seed Co., Sakata Seed America showcased some of its new offerings and industry mainstays to seed dealers at open houses in Salinas, Calif., and Dixon this week.
Among the varieties were:
• Peppermint, a new Swiss chard that has a white stem with pink stripes. The leaf has a dark green, glossy color, and it's a savoy type. "It's really great for bunched fresh markets," says Delita Pardue, product development coordinator for Chriseed, based in Burlington, Wash.
• Green Magic is Sakata's third most popular broccoli variety, in terms of sales, and it continues to grow, says Matt Linder, Sakata Salinas area sales manager of broccoli and cauliflower. It produces a very uniform harvest, helping reduce harvest costs. It does well in most production areas, including the San Joaquin Valley, Salinas, Santa Maria, Yuma, Imperial Valley, Florida, Colorado and Texas.
• BET 137, a new beet variety that's suited for both the fresh, bunched market as well as the baby leaf market. It could be called an improved Merlin, Pardue says. BET 137 has a very thin, narrow tap root and a smaller crown than some other varieties. Brix ranges between 10 and 13 degrees, Pardue says.