Guatemalan farmers regain profitability thanks to disease resistance in East-West Seed Tomatoes

3 December 2016

East-West Seed has been active in Guatemala since 2014. Tomato is our most important crop.

East-West Seed appoints new general manager in Tanzania Dr. Douglas Maxwell and Dr. Luis Mejia, breeding tomato in Guatemala

Most of the varieties in the market assure high yield and good fruit quality, but lack resistance against whitefly transmitted viruses and other diseases. In order to reduce their loss, many farmers use netting to protect their crops or have moved to higher areas where disease pressure is less severe.

East-West Seed entered the market with P52 F1 and Tyral F1. P52 offers strong resistance against whitefly transmitted viruses, foliar leaf disease resistance and resistance against soil borne diseases such as fusarium and nematodes. Tyral offers medium resistance to bacterial wilt and TYLCV, excellent fruit quality and fruit size and has great adaptability to higher production areas.

Tomato breeder David Garcia explains the success of these varieties in a short Q&A.

1. How were these varieties developed ?

The two varieties were developed with a strong focus on fruit quality and resistance. With P52, we aimed for a variety with better fruit size and resistance to nematodes without losing virus resistance. We selected the parental lines using molecular markers and phenotyping in the greenhouse. After thorough selection and testing more than 20 hybrids, the P52 turned out to have the best combination of fruit size and resistance.

The development of Tyral was based on a years-long research that our colleagues carried out in Bacterial Wilt. They worked on Bacterial Wilt resistance in tomatoes in one of the most infected areas of the country. After years of selection and crossings, we developed several lines with excellent resistance that were well adapted to Guatemalan conditions. Tyral is the result of many years of selection under hard conditions and the ability of the researchers to collaborate, persist and not lose focus on the long term.

2. What makes these tomato varieties special ? Product features, advantages and benefits ?

Farmers like P52 and Tyral for their virus resistance. They can save on plant covering without compromising their yield. Farmers call it the "poor farmers' hybrid"! Both hybrids have excellent firmness and shelf life. Tyral can be planted in areas where bacterial wilt is present and adapts well in the highlands. P52 is an agile hybrid: it performs well under varying climate conditions and with different crop management approaches.

3. How do the new varieties serve farmers in Guatemala ?

The farmers needed solutions for their problems urgently. They encountered many problems in the field. One of the largest growers was producing tomato in areas with large populations of whitefly and viruses. The plastic covering that they were using was not sufficient anymore to protect their crop. Tyral can be grown where now tomatoes were being produced anymore due to Bacterial Wilt. Farmers in those areas can become profitable again with the new variety.

4. What do you hope to achieve in the coming years ?

East-West Seed Guatemala breeds many other crops, besides tomatoes. We have developed our markets for sweet corn and coriander and hope to see that grow. Additionally, we are developing the market for papaya, melon, watermelon, French beans, onions and other crops. We will continue to identify challenges in which we can support and serve Latin American farmers and fill their needs.