With hydroponics and vertical farming gaining popularity around the world, growers are increasingly interested in finding crop varieties with a proven track record in controlled environment system. To meet this, Vilmorin-Mikado has positioned itself as a leader in plant breeding and the provision of leafy green varieties adapted to hydroponic greenhouses and vertical farms (also known as plant factories).
From Asia to the rest of the world
Vilmorin-Mikado is a global company which brings together the activities of French seed company Vilmorin and Japanese seed company Mikado Kyowa Seed. Vilmorin-Mikado has been working with hydroponic indoor farms for the past few years, initially with growers in China, Japan and South Korea. “We were initially based in Asia because the market value was higher in that continent,” says Emilie Gauvrit, product manager at Vilmorin-Mikado. “With the COVID-19 pandemic and threats to globalization, there is more interest in local production and more companies are looking for products dedicated to hydroponics.”
In response to these needs, Vilmorin-Mikado launched its leafy range adapted to hydroponic cultivation in early 2020, presenting growers 40 varieties of leafy greens that are well-adapted to hydroponics and vertical farming. It is the first time that the company has released a portfolio specifically for hydroponic and indoor farming.
So how does Vilmorin-Mikado’s leafy range differ from open-field varieties? According to Emilie, it isn’t necessarily about developing new varieties but about identifying varieties which produce uniform and compact greens with a good color intensity, rapid growth and tolerance to certain physiological disorders. “Not only is there still some uncertainty as to how the vertical farming sector will develop, also we already have many great varieties available - so Vilmorin-Mikado is focusing on the consolidation of products that we are already selling in Asia.”
Vilmorin-Mikado’s advantage over its competitors, according to Emilie, is the company’s wide selection. “We have a full range of leafy, whether it be lettuce, greens, kale, roquette, basil, etc. We can provide all of these typologies for hydroponic growers.” Vilmorin-Mikado’s baby leaf range is also suitable for hydroponic systems and vertical farms, allowing the company to continue capitalizing on the innovative products that are already in their overall portfolio.
“Navarone” is one of the company’s top-performing lettuces. As a Batavia blond type, Navarone develops a heavy head with thick, crispy leaves of a bright green color. The leafy range also includes multiple red types, dark green types and other tasty, colorful varieties.