Plant breeding might be better termed The Amazing Race, for all its similarities with the popular television show. It’s a globetrotting business where competitors hurdle through mental and physical challenges, deduce clues, and negotiate with major industry players, all to dash ahead of the competition in a fast-paced market. Because of this, the breeding world is in a constant state of flux. This year is no different, with changes to distribution methods, tweaks to the vetting and trialing process, and more emphasis on grower and consumer success.
Grower Obstacles Removed
Breeders are taking a closer look at distribution channels and realizing they need to open their products up to new growth avenues to achieve deeper market penetration. Earlier this spring, Terra Nova Nurseries announced a change in its labeling policy to eliminate the tag requirement, which was standing in the way of some growers including Terra Nova genetics in their programs. Syngenta declared its intention to open its perennial genetics to the full market to improve retail exposure, and Southern Living Plant Collection/Sunset Western Gardening is in the beginning stages of reworking its tag program to push its products onto the open market.
This movement of products to the open market is a change that will likely continue as companies wrestle for an edge over the competition, but one that will work in growers’ favor.
Availability Communication Improved
Growers should find it easier to acquire varieties this year, as breeders launch programs to broadcast availability and streamline the ordering process. EuroAmerican Propagators partnership with HGTV will allow young plant growers to order varieties from one source for simplified shipping of cuttings. While Pacific Plug and Liner’s new Liner-bility program will communicate availability better and help growers obtain varieties prior to shipping. Proven Winners has released its 2017 combination recipes earlier than in past years to assist growers with their production planning.
Consumer Value Augmented
If California Spring Trials was any indication, breeders are more intent than ever on eliminating production headaches for growers while providing extra value for consumers’ dollars. To do this, breeding teams are drawing on the latest breeding technologies, integrating their skills with new genomic tools and resources that advance breeding accuracy.
On the grower side, breeders are doing more to open up two-way communication between growers and the breeding teams during the trialing process. Selecta’s Petunia ‘Night Sky’ is a prime example. The variety is now on the market after the company opted to hold off introducing in 2015 to gather production intel from growers.
For consumers, breeders focus has turned to low-maintenance varieties that are sustainable and practically fool-proof to grow, and they now have the genetic tools to make that happen.
Profles In Plant Breeding
For more information on what some companies are doing, check out the following profiles.