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All the latest news on Starke Ayres’ vegetable seed varieties, and the success that commercial vegetable seed farmers have achieved using them.

This page will also be updated with new seed variety releases and other commercial seed industry news.

Prospect Tomatoes

When Starke Ayres and Prospect Tomatoes started working together it was the beginning of a long-standing relationship.The farming operation was started by Mr Cecil Dalbock as long ago as 1958 and the business took its’ name from the farm where he first produced tomatoes. The first plantings were on dry land and these later progressed to sprinkler irrigation. This was changed to drip irrigation in 1970 which represented a huge step forward at that time. Varieties such as Money maker, Indian River and Homestead were the standards. These plantings were untrellised with no thought of plastic mulch. What a difference over half a century makes!

Cecil refers with fond memories to those days and remembers well his interactions with Starke Ayres. He has enjoyed many good years of technical support and effective business interactions. New and improved varieties are constantly being introduced and many of these were tested by Prospect. Varieties such as STAR 9008, STAR 9006, STAR 9037 and NADINE have all found places in the programme over the years. Nadine in particular produced consistently top yields over many years of open field production. These crops had “long legs” and grew very well under the management of the Prospect team.

Early in 2005 Prospect took the bold decision to move production under protection and started building glasshouses. The move was a huge success resulting in record crops of up to 450 tons/Ha. As often happens in farming new problems arise just as things are going well. In this case it was the appearance of Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) and a quick solution was needed to ensure continued production. This solution was provided by the STARKE AYRES variety LINARES which had just given excellent trial results. By using this and other resistant varieties, Prospect could continue producing top crops. This scenario demonstrates the importance of a dynamic range of products and effective testing. The STARKE AYRES tomato range is constantly developing and continues to offer solutions.

Mr Dalbock has a very positive outlook towards farming and he regards this as key to success. He feels that production and marketing must play integrated roles for the benefit any farming enterprise as a whole. To farm successfully and produce consistently good crops is a team effort from the seed supplier through production to marketing. STARKE AYRES is committed to being part of this team, giving support and always having the customers best interests at heart. Well done to the Prospect Team, we look forward to seeing more growth and innovation, walking the road alongside your team!



Congratulations to all the winners at our 33rd annual Sales Conference.

Open/View: 2017 Conference winners SMALL


BONNY – year rounder for the Cape.

The cauliflower variety BONNY has been a dominating force in the Western Cape crating market for many years.  BONNY is a very adaptable variety and can be planted throughout the year in the Cape Peninsula area. The strong frame of BONNY makes it ideal for the loose crating market and high stacks can be packed on market floors without damaging the product. The advantage to the grower is that these impressive stacks sell quicker at higher prices. BONNY has a good general disease resistance and curd quality is outstanding due to this and its’ protective wrapper leaves. The curd has a pure white colour which is much sought after by consumers. BONNY will mature at around 70 days after transplant in mid-summer and at up to 110 days in the cold of winter. BONNY shows good heat tolerance which allows for production through the hot and dry summer months. This feature limits physiological disorders such as riceness and bracting during this period.  BONNY is without doubt a variety to rely on.


DIAMOND sparkles in KZN

DIAMOND is fast becoming the country’s preferred pre-pack broccoli. Leading producers in all regions are incorporating DIAMOND into their growing programmes as they acknowledge the multiple benefits of the variety.


One such grower is John Salgado who is based in the Tala Valley of kwa-Zulu Natal province.  After a season of trialling the variety, John now grows DIAMOND commercially.  The main benefits of planting DIAMOND for John include quickness to maturity, uniformity and a very smooth dome shaped head which makes the product look extremely attractive to potential customers.  John was particularly impressed with the fact that DIAMOND could be harvested at least a week earlier than a major opposition variety. There is simply no better pre-pack broccoli currently available in South Africa than DIAMOND.  Make the switch, see the benefits and reap the reward!


DIAMOND is a broccoli adapted for year round production (area and climate dependant).  Maturity is between 60-70 days in summer and 75-95 days in winter (area and climate dependant).  The variety has a medium green colour and a very smooth dome shaped head that can be cut very low at the base, making it an ideal pre-packer.


Image:  Heinrich Kleyn (left) with Mr. John Salgado proudly displaying the high quality DIAMOND being harvested



CRISTALINA has been available for some time and has delivered excellent results wherever it has been used. It was planted for the first time on the farm Geluk in the Crecy district in 2016 and gave an outstanding performance. The crop was sown on heavy clay soil on 4 March and started to fall by the end of July. The bulbs were lifted from 5 August onwards and clipped by 5 September after which marketing began. This sowing date is the optimal slot for the area and no bolting was seen. The crop was sown at a density of 820 000 seeds/Ha and the final yield achieved was 94.12 tons/Ha. Mr.C.P.Kloppers was the manager of this exceptional crop and ascribes the result to attention to detail and daily monitoring. This allows quick response to any potential problems. An important tool used in this case was the leaf analysis taken every two weeks. Any nutrient shortage or imbalance could then be addressed by the use of foliar feeds. The results are clear from the accompanying pictures! Onion yields such as this do not simply happen, congratulations to the team that accomplished it.


Rugani 100% Carrot Juice a 21st Century Food


An interview with Vito Rugani explaining the intricacies and benefits of our Carrot Juice.


Green Coronet continues to thrive.

Green Coronet has proven itself over many years as a reliable winter cabbage where ever it is grown.  This consistency can be traced back to the mid 1980’s when it was first introduced to the South African market. Grower  Nico Smuts of Wesco Holdings, farms in the Hekpoort area of the North West province finds that Green Coronet fits perfectly into his winter cabbage programme. The variety fulfils his needs for both the processing as well the bagging markets.  Nico supplies Green Coronet to the Johannesburg and Pretoria fresh produce markets as a bagging cabbage. He also supplies 2 leading fresh produce processors that use Green Coronet for the salad and prepared food segments.


Nico plants Green Coronet form March to June at 35 000 plants per hectare and cites the uniformity and high cut percentage as stand-out qualities of the variety.  With a pedigree and track record that date back many years, Green Coronet is one of the most consistent and reliable winter cabbages in South Africa.


Green Coronet takes 90 -110 days from transplant to harvest in the spring/summer growing slot and 120 – 140 days in the autumn/winter slot. (The variety has a low to intermediate resistance to black rot and therefore it is better suited to the cooler slots where black rot pressure is lower). Key features of the variety include an attractive blue/green colour, good bolting resistance (especially in the critical winter spring harvesting slot), cold tolerance and adaptability with a medium to large head size.  Consult your sales representative or our offices for information on best sowing times for your region.


Starke Ayres Combination of Fusarium Race 3 and virus resistances expands tomato range.

Fusarium wilt is a disease well-known to tomato farmers. Previously discussed at length, the disease seems now to be prevalent in most major tomato growing areas of South Africa.  Together with increasing pressure from viruses such as Tomato curly stunt virus (ToCSV) and Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), the need for a combination of resistances is clear.

Most commercial varieties currently available in South Africa carry the I-2 gene, responsible for resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici (Fol) races 1 & 2. In recent times these varieties have shown an increasing incidence of a disease characterised by yellowing and wilting typical of Fusarium wilt. Material carrying the I-3 gene responsible for resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici race 3 (Fol-3) was recently trialled alongside current (I-2 carrying) commercial standards. Varieties with the I-3 gene were not affected by the disease while the standards exhibited typical symptoms.  Two of these trial varieties will be commercialized, one of which is a saladette and the other a round. Both are determinate and have resistance to Fol-3 and some of the more common virus diseases.

*CASSANDRA is a determinate saladette for the fresh and informal markets. It has early to medium maturity, taking around 80 days to first harvest. Plant growth is compact with a concentrated set and harvest period of around 6 – 8 weeks. The variety has very large, blocky, egg-shaped fruits weighing between 140 and 160 g. CASSANDRA has high resistance to Verticilium wilt (Va/Vd), Fusarium wilt (Fol: 1-3), Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV), Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), ToCSV and intermediate resistance to root-knot nematodes (Ma/Mi/Mj), bacterial speck (Pst) and TSWV.

*ZOEY is a determinate round tomato variety for the fresh and informal markets. It has early maturity of 75-80 days to first harvest. The variety has a compact growth habit with a concentrated set and harvest period of around 4-6 weeks. ZOEY has a deep oblate fruit shape with an average weight between 140 and 160 g. It has high resistance to Va/Vd, Fol: 1-3, TMV, TYLCV, ToCSV and intermediate resistance to Ma/Mi/Mj.

Seed of both these varieties are available from STARKE AYRES or your area specific sales representative. or call on 0860 782 753.

Measures to limit the impact of Fusarium Wilt include:

  1. Crop Rotation -Fusarium is widespread and persists for several years in soil, a long crop rotation (4 to 6 years) is necessary to reduce populations.
  2. Hygiene - wherever practical, infested plant material should be removed and destroyed after harvest.
  3. Management – should aim to maintain a high level of plant vigour with appropriate fertilization and irrigation, but avoid over-irrigation, particularly early in the season.
  4. Planning - If soils are severely infested, future production of Solanaceous crops may be difficult.
  5. Water quality - the pathogen can be present in irrigation water. In this case water needs to treated or filtered (the micro conidia of F. oxysporum can be as small as 2.5 μm).
  6. Use of resistant varieties.                                            



Multigreen 3 – Taking top spot as a one-cut lettuce.

The speciality lettuce market is increasingly significant. The reason why the lettuce market is leaning towards the speciality one-cut varieties is largely because of extended shelf life and aesthetic quality. Speciality lettuces are also surprisingly nutritional and tasty and can be harvested as quickly as 35 days after transplanting. Multigreen 3 (MG3) is considered as one of the most stable and reliable multileaf varieties currently available. It offers resistance to Downy Mildew (Bremia Lactucae 1 - 26), can be planted all year round and always produces evenly shaped, dark green leaves. MG3 has set the benchmark for multileaves at Starke Ayres.


Marrows and Scallops – Watch this space!

The range of marrows and scallop varieties offered by Starke Ayres remains strong market leaders with excellent fruit quality and high yields! The current line-up caters for a wide audience from supermarkets, processors and export enterprises. Never content with being run of the mill, Starke Ayres are working tirelessly to breed and select better and improved varieties for their valued clients.  At this stage new marrow and scallop varieties are being tested in your area, so watch this space for the squash varieties of the future!


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