By Zac B. Sarian

The staff of Agriculture Magazine, Rosalie P. Lacson and yours truly, were invited to the
50th anniversary celebration of Known-You Seed in Kaohsiung, Taiwan from December 5-9. Aside from attending the grand celebration on December 7 at the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel, we toured the two research stations of the company in Pingtung County. There we saw the amazing hybrids which we would like to share with you here.

Sunflower craze

The sunflower craze is on. And the seed companies are saddled with a nice problem. The market is hungry for sunflower seeds and that’s giving them the opportunity to cash in on the big demand.

Neo Wang of Known-You Philippines says that there is a shortage of sunflower seeds all over the world. The seed companies in Japan are experiencing seed shortage and so are those in Europe. And so Known-You Seed is planting a lot of sunflower for seed production.

Rosalie P. Lacson in the sunflower seed production plantation in Taiwan.

Known-You has five bestselling varieties – Sunshine Orange with black center, Sunshine Orange with green center, Sunshine Yellow with black center, Miro Orange with black center and Miro Orange with green center.

Other flowers

Aside from
sunflower, Known-You takes pride in its different varieties of zinnia, petunia, celosia, canna, lisianthus and torenia.

These are bred under tropical conditions in Pingtung so that they are more adaptable to Southeast Asian countries than those bred in temperate countries like Japan and Europe.

More fruits per eggplant

At the KY research station, we saw a very simple and practical way of making eggplants produce more fruits.

The technique is topping the plant when it has developed about 6 leaves from transplanting. This means pinching the growing point so that new branches will develop. Usually, four branches are allowed to develop and then trained to grow sideward. This will allow the four branches to bear more fruits than when just one or two branches are allowed to develop upwards.

In addition to developing four main fruiting branches, experts recommend removal of the lower leaves which may not be functional at all. This will allow better air circulation and less hiding places for insects that could damage the plants.

Note the spreading branches of this very prolific eggplant.

Of course, it is also important to choose the right variety to plant. There are new hybrids that are really fruitful. One very fruitful variety with good quality fruits from Known-You is called Peeress. The fruit is bigger than most cylindrical varieties, weighing 420 grams, and 38 cm long by 6 cm wide.

Breeder of winner watermelons

Mr. Kung is the watermelon breeder at Known-You who has developed three All America Selection (AAS) winners. The latest, the 2018 AAS winner, is known only by its codename of LF 6720 which Mr. Kung regards as the best ever watermelon he has bred.

Mr. Kung and his Shiny Boy watermelon.

This hybrid is very easy to grow. It is a vigorous plant and is tolerant to diseases. It also has very good fruit-setting. Moreover, the deep red flesh is crisp, sweet and juicy.

Mr. Kung has been working for Known-You for 23 years and has developed many commercial varieties, three of them AAS winners. To win an AAS award is a big deal. The plant is tried all over the United States to determine if it deserves the award. So far, three of Mr. Kung’s hybrids have won the award.

Seeds of the 2018 AAS winner is not yet available because one rule is that seeds are to be sold only two years after the award is made.

Hot stuff

For those who like it hot, Known-You has a number of them. They come in the “Pangsigang” type as well as the tiny hot chillies.

Zesy Finger pepper, very hot, shiny skin.

Salvo is a new hot chilli, each fruit weighing 9 grams which is about the heaviest of the tiny hot varieties. Bred by Mrs. Lee, it is very prolific and very hot. Another new hot chilli is Canary, a yellow birdeye type, each fruit weighing 7.8 grams.

The Pangsigang types are also extremely prolific. Notable for its creamy yellow skin when immature, and red when ripe is Zesy. It has thick flesh and is very pungent. The dark green ones which are all very prolific include Temptation, new, 40 gram fruit; Kris, a new one, 68 grams; Gladius, 62 grams; Group Zest, 32 grams; and A-May, 17 grams.

Special mention

An okra that is an All America Selection (AAS) winner is Candle Fire, a red okra with round pod that weighs about 15 grams. An earlier red variety is Carmine Splendor.

Being colored, is it possible that they contain more antioxidants than the green ones?

An idea for PH agritourism farms

The budding farm tourism business in the Philippines can adopt a unique idea showcased at the 50th anniversary celebration of Known-You Seed in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The unique idea is to grow vine vegetables with big fruits in containers. That is something different from what is usually done in the Philippines, which is planting low-growing plants in containers for urban gardening, such as leafy greens, eggplant, and the like.

At the Known-You research farm, wax gourd or “kundol” with a big fruit is grown in a plastic container that is just about 1.5 feet in diameter. There are many varieties of fruiting vine vegetables that can be grown in containers. They are just provided with sturdy trellis for support.

Aside from kundol, different varieties of squash, melons, watermelons, pumpkin, ampalaya, cucumber, upo, patola, and others can be grown in containers.

Visitors will benefit a lot if a seminar on the detailed techniques in growing fruiting veggies in containers will be held. This could be a paid seminar or it could be part of the entrance fee.

Then the farm should make sure that all the materials needed in growing veggies in container should be available in the farm. These could include seeds or seedlings, different kinds of containers, potting media, carbonized rice hull, coco peat, organic and inorganic fertilizers, gardening tools and equipment, trellises, ties, crop protection items, and the like. That will enable those interested to start their projects right away.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2019 issue.