Thursday November 8th is a day to remember for the Nunhems crew - or at least for the accounting department of BASF, of which the company is a part since this year. Never before in the hundred-year history of the breeding company have they invested as much money as this time, realizing the new global breeding centre for cucumbers. The investment, around 50 million euros, created a 2.5 hectare greenhouse complex with a 17,000 m2 technical and office facility.
Before the official opening, 'stewardesses' went through the safety procedures with the audience. Such procedures are becoming more and more important in the industry, particularly when it comes to hygiene. That's why the greenhouses remained closed to the public during the opening. Through the footage shown, guests were still able to 'see' the green heart of the center. Soon after the opening, the first cucumber plants will appear - the breeding teams are rearing to go in the extra high greenhouses with diffused glazing, high-pressure moistening for better plant climate and translucent screens.
The breeding center under construction by Havecon
The facility will house all cucumber pre-breeding and breeding programs in Nunhem: high wire, long, short, snack and pickling cucumber types, including the phenotyping line which offers digital evaluation of fruit characteristics. The results from these programs will provide innovative new varieties for greenhouse and open-field growers as well as retailers and consumers around the world. The breeding center will use marker technology to reduce the development time of seed varieties by up to 25 percent.
Joachim Schneider, Head of BASF Vegetable Seeds
The first speaker of the day was Head of BASF Vegetable Seeds, Joachim Schneider, who spoke about the turbulent process leading up to the opening of 'not just another greenhouse'. Two grenades from the Second World War had to be defused to build the breeding center, and the soil also turned out to be rich in archeological treasures. At the end of his speech, Schneider also expressed his concerns about the increasingly strict European rules on new breeding techniques. Schneider said he wanted to commit to retaining Europe's leading position in breeding, and prevent a brain drain from the continent. Schneider called the new Nunhem center a first 'line in the sand'.
Livio Tedeschi, Senior Vice President Agricultural Solutions EMEA at BASF
Livio Tedeschi, Senior Vice President Agricultural Solutions EMEA at BASF, also touched upon the subject, adding that BASF is fully committed to developing the seed company. He said that BASF's investments in the agricultural branch of the company will grow from 1/3 to forty percent.
Havecon and Voorwinden represent: Pieter Ammerlaan, Henk Verbakel and Gerald Koole (Havecon) with Kris and Maik Voorwinden