NEWS: Frost-tolerant Eskimo carrot wins NIAB award

17 Nov 2011

The 2011 NIAB Variety Cup has been awarded to the Nickerson-Zwaan carrot variety Eskimo, bred by Vilmorin, in recognition of its unique frost tolerance and resulting commercial impact.

Nickerson-Zwaan’s Nigel Hodson receives the 2011 NIAB Variety Cup from NIAB Director Dr Tina Barsby and Vegetable Specialist Bruce Napier, awarded to the carrot variety Eskimo.

The award acknowledges varieties that have made a major contribution to crop productivity through improved quality, disease resistance, grower return or commercial success, and can be drawn from the entire spectrum of horticultural, ornamental and agricultural crops.

“The NIAB Variety Cup was first awarded in 1986 to the cauliflower White Rock, and the vegetable sector has held its own ever since winning in 1997, 2009 and again this year. Both new and established varieties are considered in the process and Eskimo is a perfect example of the latter,” said Dr Tina Barsby, Director of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany.

Step forward

NIAB TAG’s Bruce Napier explained that when Eskimo was commercially launched in 2003 it represented a step forward in carrot breeding with its frost tolerance, which has since contributed to improved quality, yield and pack-out results from open-field situations late into the winter.

“Eskimo’s win recognises its steady market growth, year-on-year, through good performance and as pressures on cost and availability of straw continued to rise. Uncovered crops of Eskimo did particularly well in 2010 surviving the early, hard frosts in November, with between zero and 20% field losses compared to potential 100% losses in competitor varieties. Since then the vast majority of the variety’s growers have increased volumes for harvest in winter 2011,” said Mr Napier.

Commenting on the award John De Soyza, Range Manager at Nickerson-Zwaan UK Ltd said: “We’re very honoured in receiving the NIAB Variety Cup award for Eskimo. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into the commercial development of the variety over the years and we’re delighted that its benefits to the industry have been shown to be real and consistent.

Joint effort

“Congratulations to our team who were involved in bringing the variety to the market. It has truly been a joint effort between our sister breeding company Vilmorin, who had the foresight to begin introducing frost tolerance into hybrid carrots some 20 years ago, and the product development and commercial teams who worked so well together to launch the variety.

“However all this would have been impossible to achieve without the active support of our grower partners who cooperated with us to make the variety the success that it is. It’s greatly satisfying to have been part of something that has been a significant benefit to growers and receive the Variety Cup award with many thanks to both NIAB and the carrot growing industry,” finished Mr De Soyza.

NIAB Variety Cup

The NIAB Variety Cup is awarded to the breeder of a variety that, in the view of NIAB, demonstrates potential merit for making a major contribution to sustained crop productivity through improved quality, disease resistance and grower return or has achieved a high level of sustained quality performance.

NIAB technical staff nominates candidates from all of the crops assessed at NIAB on an annual basis. A panel then comes to a judgement as to the variety which has made the most significant contribution to production or presents an opportunity for increased productivity or lower impact.

Both established and new varieties are considered and recent winners represent a wide range of crops and characteristics. Recent winners are Kentaurus forage maize in 2010, Vision onion in 2009, Pearl winter barley in 2008, Fuego spring bean in 2007 and Crusader white clover in 2006.

For further information contact:

Bruce Napier, Vegetable Specialist, NIAB TAG
T: 01223 342278
E: bruce.napier [at]

Ros Lloyd, Communications Manager, NIAB
T: 01223 342313
M: 07711 568164
E: ros.lloyd [at]