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Claudia™ claws back ground on Australian competition

Syngenta variety Claudia as pictured at the AMA conference in September 2018.

The Syngenta-developed rockmelon variety CLAUDIA™ has reclaimed ground on its competitors since its 2017 launch despite suppressed market conditions.

A listeria outbreak reduced demand in the early months of 2018 but CLAUDIA has begun to hit the markets in bigger numbers in the back end.

Syngenta Product Lead, LSV and Cucurbits – Leith Plevy, said the measure of CLAUDIA’s success was the breadth of its uptake.

“Despite industry headwinds, CLAUDIA continued to gain momentum, with further uptake in most key production areas, including North Queensland, Southern NSW, Victoria and Western Australia - including the Ord - with growers recognizing the key production benefits, and market and consumer appeal,” Leith said.

“Having once dominated the industry, over a decade ago, it’s been quite the road-to-recovery for Syngenta, now it’s back in the market with CLAUDIA.”

Such is the importance of the Australian rockmelon market to Syngenta that a specific program is managed for the local market.

Based out of California, Syngenta’s Breeding Project Lead – Melon, Rakesh Kumar, oversees several breeding programs tailored to specific markets around the world, including Australia.

Rakesh makes regular visits to Australia, stopping at numerous markets, while making time for Australian growers.

This international expertise is matched with local know-how. CLAUDIA was selected and widely trialed back in 2013 – from northern Australia to the southern markets - under the careful watch of local Senior Trial Officer, Rachel Webb (Archbald).

CLAUDIA was selected based on several key attributes:

  • Strong vine vigour
  • Very concentrated fruit set and high yield potential
  • Attractive netting and appearance, and importantly
  • Excellent internal attributes and outstanding eating quality and consumer experience.

As well as these important plant and fruit characteristics, CLAUDIA also has a novel resistance package, including resistance to Melon Necrotic Spot Virus, as well as Cotton Aphid colonisation resistance.

Syngenta Vegetable Seeds Business Unit Head Ged Sippel said CLAUDIA would have further penetrated the market if it wasn’t for the circumstances.

“Rockmelon demand in general was reduced due to the Listeria event earlier in the year but we have made some solid inroads at the back end of the season in Northern Australia,” Ged said.

“CLAUDIA has been grown early and late season in all locations such as Northern Territory, Kununurra and Gumlu with good feedback from growers.”

Ged said the comments that kept cropping up was CLAUDIA’s smooth netting, tight cavity, yield, and good vine cover, helping to protect the fruit in hot dry conditions.

“In Kununurra growers mentioned how well CLAUDIA held up well in October’s 40°C heat,” he said.

Such as been the success of CLAUDIA in Australia that it is now being broadly adopted in other global markets.

“What excites Syngenta the most is that CLAUDIA is leading the way for more high quality varieties to develop through the pipeline, with an excellent range of material in trial to compliment CLAUDIA outside of its preferred warm-season window,” Ged said.