Armitage Scholarship Winner Weighs in on Plant Breeding Innovation

As day three wraps up and I sit in my third hotel room of the trip, I can’t help but reflect back to writing my application letter for this scholarship. In my letter I say, “I have always said that I love this field because no matter how long you are in it, there is always new and exciting things to learn and challenges to overcome.”

That has absolutely held true through all my work in this field, whether it was in school, internships, or jobs. Today I was constantly reminded of that as we looked at new varieties that have been improved slightly to keep their habit tighter, respond to plant growth regulators (PGRs) better, not require PGRs, stay short longer, hold their color longer, or a variety of different adjustments.

To the average consumer, these plants probably don’t look different than the ones that were on the market before. However, when you talk to the people that are behind these improvements, you learn about the amount of work that has been put into these plants to help them perform better. The consumer might not appreciate small tweaks such as removing the need for PGRs or larger ones like doubling the size of a flower, but they all represent countless hours put in by industry professionals.

It takes vision to be able to see problems that are occurring and figure out ways to overcome them through breeding, and a specific skillset is needed to organize a breeding team. It requires creativity and knowing the consumer to effectively market and promote new products. It calls for passion and teamwork to bring even a small improvements to the market.

These gradual improvements are often what demonstrate passion to me. Yes, giant breakthroughs in breeding are exciting, and I love them, but the drive to bring a quality product to the consumer is what pushes these bit-by-bit improvements. These are often changes that do not take up a lot of time in California Spring Trials (CAST) tours and presentations or catalogs. They don’t get praise heaped upon them, but they are a testament to an industry that often recognizes where it can do better and works to correct it.

Through CAST, my education, and my internships, I have been fortunate to meet many plant breeders and industry professionals. These are people that have made great strides in the industry and people that are just getting their sea-legs, like me. Very few of these people are content to sit back and throw in the towel. They are people that work through the weekend and work late nights. They are not happy to see something just exist; they want it to thrive. This is why there is always more to learn and do in this field, because it is made up of people that never stop moving, never stop reaching for those last few things, and never stop pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Armitage Scholarship Winner Weighs in on Plant Breeding Innovation

  1. Andrew,
    First of all, congratulations! I was able to experience CAST last year for the first time, so I can relate to your experiences. I have enjoyed reading your daily writings. It is exciting to hear about young people breeding plants and I look forward to hearing about your successes. Continue to soak it all up!

  2. Hi Tyler!
    It’s great to hear from you. Thanks for reading our coverage and I hope all is well for you! Keep us updated on what you’re up to!

More From Varieties...
Miscanthus-Bandwidth EmeraldCoastGrowers

May 11, 2018

New Sterile Ornamental Grasses One Solution to Grass Invasion

Aggressive grass species can turn gardeners off to using ornamental grasses. Less fertile alternatives offer options for keeping grasses from taking over the garden.

Read More

May 10, 2018

Beekenkamp Plants Acquires Sunny Osteospermum Breeding Program

Beekenkamp took over all Sunny Holland sales activities in 2017, and now has ownership of the company’s entire breeding program.

Read More
Stokesia-Divinity-1-feature

May 6, 2018

Growing Tips From an Expert for Stokesia ‘Divinity’

'Divinity’ has large, white flowers that open with a hint of yellow in the center and then mature to a pure, long-lasting white.

Read More
Latest Stories
Miscanthus-Bandwidth EmeraldCoastGrowers

May 11, 2018

New Sterile Ornamental Grasses One Solution to Grass In…

Aggressive grass species can turn gardeners off to using ornamental grasses. Less fertile alternatives offer options for keeping grasses from taking over the garden.

Read More

May 10, 2018

Beekenkamp Plants Acquires Sunny Osteospermum Breeding …

Beekenkamp took over all Sunny Holland sales activities in 2017, and now has ownership of the company’s entire breeding program.

Read More
Stokesia-Divinity-1-feature

May 6, 2018

Growing Tips From an Expert for Stokesia ‘Divinit…

'Divinity’ has large, white flowers that open with a hint of yellow in the center and then mature to a pure, long-lasting white.

Read More
Panicum-Northwind-feature

May 4, 2018

Allan Armitage: Three Ways to Market Grasses as Great O…

I don’t expect my friends to know the difference between switchgrass and grama grass, yet I always try to do my best to enhance the visibility of these grasses.

Read More
Bailey-Nurseries-Tree-Art-at-US-Capitol

May 1, 2018

Bailey Nurseries Fills U.S. Capitol Front Lawn With Tre…

A 150-foot tree art installation was constructed on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building to promote the planting of trees in an effort to combat climate, change while creating meaningful experiences that bring nature into people’s every day lives.

Read More
Carex-and-Onoclea

April 28, 2018

Kelly Norris: Why the Plant Experience Really Matters W…

For Millennials and other new gardeners, the features of plants such as natives aren’t terribly important. It's the benefits that are paramount.

Read More
Zinfin-Doll-Hydrangea

April 25, 2018

March Was a Month of Awards for Spring Meadow Nursery, …

After taking home a best new variety award at a Belgian horticulture event, Proven Winners held its always-popular Shrub Madness tournament to coincide with the annual NCAA Championship.

Read More

April 25, 2018

Armitage Scholar’s Final Thoughts on the People a…

"This trip solidified my desire to breed plants. Every time I was able to have a discussion about plant traits, genetics, and germplasm, I felt a thrill of excitement."

Read More
Gomphrena Truffula Pink (Proven Winners)

April 24, 2018

Armitage Talks Favorites From Danziger and Proven Winne…

From annuals that look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book to breeding marvels in perennials and shrubs, the visits to Danziger and Proven Winners at California Spring Trials were exciting, to be sure. Here are some of Dr. A's favorites.

Read More

April 24, 2018

Proven Winners Reveals Marketing Efforts for 2018-2019 …

For the first time, the brand has generated one billion consumer impressions, and plans to keep that momentum going with a number of ambitious programs.

Read More

April 24, 2018

California Spring Trials 2018: New Plant Intros from Pr…

Check out the newest 2018 plant introductions from Proven Winners and Danziger.

Read More

April 20, 2018

California Dreaming Takes on a Whole New Meaning at CAS…

At California Spring Trials 2018, the Greenhouse Grower team witnessed the revitalization of a company, plus some awesome merchandising displays, and efforts toward automation.

Read More

April 19, 2018

California Spring Trials 2018: New Intros from Syngenta…

Check out the newest 2018 plant introductions from Syngenta Flowers, Hishtil, Jaldety, Cohen Propagators, Nir Nursery, Bailey Nurseries, and Sunset Western/Southern Living Plants.

Read More

April 19, 2018

CAST 2018: Dr. A’s Favorites From Syngenta Flowers, Bai…

From an exciting perennial to a new white begonia, Allan Armitage says these showstoppers deserve recognition.

Read More
GG-and-Benary-Team

April 19, 2018

Spring Trials Rookie Inspired by Connections

The Allan Armitage Scholarship recipient has added a number of industry connections during his time at California Spring Trials, and discusses what that means to him and his career.

Read More
Benary 2018

April 18, 2018

At CAST 2018, Sakata Captures Consumer Attention Spans,…

More than halfway through the California Spring Trials, the Greenhouse Grower team had a busy but fantastic day seeing dozens of our friends at American Takii and Benary, and spending time talking about the industry's past and its bright future.

Read More

April 18, 2018

California Spring Trials 2018: New Varieties to Watch F…

Check out the newest 2018 plant introductions from American Takii, Hilverdakooijj, Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, Sakata Ornamentals, and Ernst Benary of America.

Read More

April 18, 2018

How the Horticulture Industry’s Past Shaped Its P…

Andrew Scheldorf, the winner of Dr. Allan Armitage’s California Spring Trials Scholarship, says the stories of plant origins help ground our industry to the people and places that have changed us.

Read More