Cucumis sativus L.
The Southeast Asian cucumber was in East-West Seed’s sights from the very beginning of the company. Though heat-loving and popular in the markets of the region already, it was to take a decade of trials before breakthroughs were made. First, the Lanna-5 variety combined downy mildew resistance, longer shelf life, and earliness. This cultivar dominated the small fruited market overnight in the early 1990s. Another breakthrough came later in 1999, when East-West Seed introduced the Micro-C. With its improvements to taste and shape, it is hugely popular to this day in supermarkets, loved by consumers as ‘finger-food’.
Crop Breeding Manager
“We’re looking to make developments in resistance to other biotic stresses to cucumbers too.”
Pichet has spent 16 years as part of the East-West Seed family. “Five years back we made major development in virus resistance with our cucumber variety Big Green,” an innovation which had significant impact to the market. “We’re looking to introduce it to more countries which have similar tropical conditions to what we have here.” Big Green, a hybrid variety, is bred specially for its resistance to the geminiviruses.
“Our focus is not only improved virus tolerance, but we’re looking to make developments in resistance to other abiotic stresses to cucumbers, too, like drought and climate challenges.”
Pichet describes how “happy the farmers are with these new varieties.” They’re adaptable and high-yielding. “This is very significant to breeding,” he says, “as it means farmers come back to buy the variety again and again.”
Pichet was inspired to become a plant breeder over 20 years ago because his family grew vegetables. “At the market you could see all the varieties were so susceptible to diseases,” and he questioned why “there wasn’t a company developing ones that were disease-resistant.” After he graduated, he discovered East-West Seed were doing exactly that. “They have a very good strategy developed just for tropical conditions.”