Plant & Food Research develops new vegetable cultivars that meet the needs of consumers and producers.

Our vegetable breeding programme focuses on garden peas (also known as vining peas), sweet potatoes and new crops such as ulluco and oca (New Zealand yams).

Our garden pea breeding programme develops new cultivars with good processing qualities, including high yield, wider optimal harvest windows and multiple disease resistance. For sweet potatoes, we are developing new cultivars with novel colour and taste, as well as increased yield and high postharvest quality. Our new crops programme is selecting exotic cultivars with novel characteristics such as different colours and tastes.

Working with industry, we have released a number of commercially successful cultivars:

  • Garden pea
    • ‘Sonata’, a reliable, high yielding main season cultivar with double pods
    • ‘Cawood’, a triple podded with shortened vines well suited to heavier soils
    • ‘Genesis’, better suited for higher rainfall temperate areas
    • ‘Picton’ with long pointed double pods, suitable for hand pick market
    • ‘Wizzard’, a double podded suitable for lighter soils
  • Sweet potato
    • ‘Purple Star’, a purple skinned tasty eating variety with firm cream flesh mottled with purple colouring
    • ‘Radical’ with high dry matter, intense purple-coloured flesh, high concentrations of healthy anthocyanins and possible uses for the food ingredient industry
  • New crops
    • Earth gems, small tubers of exciting colours for niche uses in the culinary sector
    • 'Inca Gold', popular, high yielding yams with yellow skin and golden flesh.