Plant Breeder Jason Jandrew: Multifunctional Plants Are The Future

Jason Jandrew Plant Breeder Ball Horticultural Co.
Jason Jandrew
Plant Breeder
Ball Horticultural Co.

Jason Jandrew is a plant breeder for PanAmerican Seed Co. and Ball FloraPlant, producing various seed and vegetatively propagated annuals and perennials.

Jandrew has been a breeder for 11 years. He holds a B.S. in horticulture from Penn State and an M.S. in horticulture from the University of Florida.

GG: As a young breeder, what direction is your breeding career taking? What other crop areas are you interested in? 
Jandrew: The move to fewer but larger growers has had a big impact on breeding goals. The quality and uniformity standards of germination and production have always been important. However, as operations become larger and more automated, the need for uniformity and consistency in the product you are breeding becomes paramount in many ways to your other breeding goals. It’s an interesting concept to take this living organism and breed it so that it works in this vast production machine with minimal direct human input.

GG: What crops do you feel will be relevant and important over the next 30 years?
Jandrew: As much as I wish that people would surround their homes with flowerbeds for the next 30 years, I think we can already see now that this is a changing trend. Over the next 30 years, people will continue to have less and less outdoor space and free time for gardening. Pot crops and cut flowers will become even more interesting as people try to remain connected to disappearing green space outside their homes by bringing more of nature inside, especially in many developing nations with high population densities.

GG: Will the fervor for all new varieties continue in the industry? Will breeders begin to focus on filling consumers’ needs?
Jandrew: Yes, I think “new” is always interesting to people in many industries … cell phones, cars, food, fashion, etc. Why should flowers be any different? If people stop wanting new varieties, I’m out of a job.

I think breeders are already working on filling consumers’ needs and they will continue to do so even more in the future. As breeders we breed for many types of consumers, from production, to growers to retailers to the final end user. All of these links in the chain have different needs that must be considered when breeding for a product to be successful.

New varieties also need to be more than just “pretty.” To distinguish yourself in a crowded market, you need to take a cue from cell phones: keep adding features! It’s not about having another red petunia, it’s what else can that red petunia bring to the table: is it drought tolerant, bud-worm and botrytis resistant, does it smell better or grow faster? For the end consumer, with less space and time for gardening, multifunctional plants will steal the spotlight. It’s got to look good and be edible, smell nice, purify the air, repel pests, need less care, etc.

GG: How will breeders address needs to reduce chemicals by increasing crop resistance to pests and diseases? How far away is this technology?
Jandrew: I think there is a lot more traditional breeding still to be done for pest and disease resistance in ornamentals. With a few exceptions, we tend to focus on relatively simply inherited 1 or 2 gene traits for ornamental crops. Going forward, we need to look past the lower-hanging fruit (of which there is less and less all the time) and reach a little further for more of the challenging, higher-investment, long-term goals.

GG: How did you come to this industry and specialty?
Jandrew: I think just as some people are born with a natural gift for art or music or mechanical aptitude, others are born with a predilection for plants. Even as a child, I had pet houseplants and gardens around the house wherever I could work the soil. I’ve just always been naturally drawn to horticulture. I’m also the type of person who always needs a creative outlet, so plant breeding, specifically flowers, was the perfect marriage of plants and creativity for me.

GG: What is one outlandish prediction you have for floriculture in the next 30 years?
Jandrew: In the next 30 years, I hope to finally get that flying car we’ve all been promised for decades now. In flowers, who knows? Glow-in-the-dark landscapes that are equally as compelling in the evening as they are in the day? I hope we haven’t even begun to consider yet what is possible 30 years from now.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Plant Culture...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories

February 11, 2015

Infusion Technology Boosts Seed Performance, Study Sugg…

Seven-year-old wheat seed germination can increase by as much as 83 percent, according to a Vital Force Technology Study that looks at the effects of energy infusion technology on plant vitality.

Read More

February 3, 2015

American Floral Endowment Accepting Research Pre-Propos…

If you are pursuing a floriculture research project, now is the time to apply for funding through the American Floral Endowment. Research pre-proposal applications for 2015-2016 funding are due to AFE by June 1, 2015.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Marijuana’s Trajectory And Ascent To Horticultural Cr…

Marijuana growing is poised for change as growers and researchers focus on improving production practices.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Greenhouse Production: Two Years Of Basics & Beyond…

Greenhouse Grower's Basics & Beyond articles cover some of the latest news and research going on in greenhouse production. Here are article links for the last two years.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

November 24, 2014

GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile &…

The social garden app GrowIt! takes the Gold Winner award at the design100 2014 Mobile & App Design Awards.

Read More

November 10, 2014

The Perennial Farm Joins HGTV HOME Plant Collection

The Perennial Farm joins the HGTV HOME Plant Collection growers' network for 2015.

Read More
AmericanHort

November 4, 2014

AmericanHort Publishes Revised American Standard For Nu…

AmericanHort announces the revised American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1) is now available for industry use. The Standard reflects the consensus of the industry regarding how nursery stock — living plants other than annuals — should be specified and sold within the trade.

Read More

September 26, 2014

Master The Art Of Watering

Watering is elemental to healthy plants, but one of the hardest concepts for new employees to master in the greenhouse. Recommend these tips to start them off right.

Read More

September 16, 2014

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas Facility Provides Gro…

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas farm in Esteli, Nicaragua, is one year away from full production, but sales and quality from the two-year-old facility are right on track.

Read More
Erysimum 'Cheers' from Darwin Perennials

September 15, 2014

Darwin Perennials Takes Production Offshore In Bogota, …

With its recent purchase of a farm in Colombia, Darwin Perennials is ready to amp up supply of its perennial genetics, to provide growers with tried-and-true varieties and comprehensive production specifications.

Read More

July 23, 2014

Plan Now To Prevent Bract Edge Burn On Poinsettias

Reduce fertilizer and water, and allow your poinsettias to develop slowly during the final four weeks of production to avoid bract edge burn.

Read More

July 11, 2014

Growing Your Crops Above Their Base Temperature

Lowering temperature set points in the greenhouse may help you combat rising heating costs.

Read More

May 1, 2014

Growers Report Nutritional Problems On Geraniums

In recent weeks, several growers have contacted Michigan State University Specialists about leaf discoloration on geraniums, especially the purpling of lower leaves.

Read More

April 22, 2014

How Two Postharvest Care Products Worked On Potted Plan…

What your potted plants look like at retail translates to sales or fails. North Carolina State University researchers report on how two postharvest care products performed.

Read More
Dianthus 'Passion' from Emerald Coast Growers

March 27, 2014

Growing Dianthus Successfully

Here's some advice on transplanting and producing this classic perennial favorite.

Read More
Aquilegia canadensis

March 10, 2014

Tips For Producing Aquilegia

Advice on planting, temperature, vernalization, lighting and more on columbine from Emerald Coast Growers' head grower Josiah Raymer.

Read More
Perennials in hoop house

February 21, 2014

Overwintering Perennials: Plan Ahead To Fungicide Drenc…

Demand for perennials has increased as consumers educate themselves and seek out new and improved varieties. Overwintering perennials can become an important profit center. Here's some advice on how to overwinter successfully.

Read More
Cold damage to ipomoea

February 11, 2014

Chilling Injury On Cuttings: What To Look For

During this young plant production season when many growers receive unrooted cuttings, liners and plugs for spring production. Cuttings shippers are delaying deliveries because the tender cuttings cannot withstand the frigid temperatures.

Read More