New Frontiers In Breeding

Anticipation. Yes, it’s a popular Carly Simon song from the 1970s that was used in ketchup commercials, but it’s also what each California Spring Trials brings. The dates for this year’s event are a week earlier than usual, March 26-April 1.

Before we head out, we try to get a sense of what the big introductions will be. On the seed side, All-America Selections winners often are a reliable indicator. In January many of the European companies promote new varieties at the IPM show in Essen, Germany. We even got a glimpse of dwarf bougainvilleas Suntory presented at the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition in Ft. Lauderdale. And Costa Farms’ trials in Goulds, Fla., near Miami are another opportunity to catch an early glimpse of what will be introduced in California.

 Spring Trials are a big investment and the world’s finest flower breeders and marketers are under a great deal of pressure to deliver breakthroughs versus more of the same each year. This is no easy task, given it can take five to 14 years to bring something truly new to market. When we visit the trials, most of the time, we’re sorting through the competitive positioning of “me toos.” But it’s the more distinctive specialties, breakthrough plants and creative marketing programs that make the trip worthwhile.

Who would have guessed the ornamentally delicious strawberries from ABZ Seeds would have been such a huge hit last year? It’s because there weren’t 10 other companies peddling strawberries. Floranova’s focus on patio vegetables and Ball’s reinvention of the Burpee brand showcase edibles, along with Hishtil’s herb and vegetable programs.

Each Spring Trials has its sleepers, too–plants that aren’t fully appreciated at the time of introduction but become important later after they prove themselves. Three that come to mind are euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost,’ SunPatiens impatiens and Senetti pericallis.

The event has come a long way from seed annuals to encompass a broad spectrum of plants–blooming potted plants, vegetative annuals, perennials, grasses, shrubs, tropicals, succulents and edibles. It’s the ultimate product knowledge experience. Miss a year and miss a lot.

What are the possibilities for breakthroughs this year?

New colors are always a very visible accomplishment. Last year, Ball’s black petunias were a big hit and Westhoff’s yellow scaevola created interest as well. But as Doug Holden cautions in our Perspective interview on page 22, being first doesn’t mean anything if the plant can’t be delivered through growers’ production systems and perform for the end consumer.
New flower forms also capture attention. Examples include Selecta’s MiniFamous Double calibrachoas and its double-flowered osteospermums that will debut this year.

New product forms outside the realm of breeding also can make a big impact, like the multi-cutting liner trend that swept the industry the last three years. While Dömmen has secured the rights to multi-species liners through its Confetti patent (page 12), competitors will still have free reign to develop single-species liners, mixing colors of the same genus together, or the option of negotiating with Dömmen to be licensed for multi-species. This is new territory and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

The most cutting edge breeding is bringing the traits and performance we expect from annuals to perennials and shrubs–programmable production, flower power, extended bloom time, clean stock and compact and uniform growth habits. (See page 48) As a result, many familiar perennials are becoming annuals, like the showier rudbeckias on the market. Hardiness is an elusive trait. Trialing will become that much more important to ensure we’re delivering performance consumers expect.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on Helping Growers Succeed

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellence Award for Industry Achievement

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

June 20, 2017

Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of Golden State Bulb Growers Portfolio

Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.

Read More
Latest Stories
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

June 20, 2017

Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of G…

Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.

Read More
Plantpeddler Variety Day

June 14, 2017

Plantpeddler Hosting Variety Day on Aug. 4 in Cresco, I…

The free event will allow attendees to tour Plantpeddler’s trial gardens, which include more than 1,200 varieties of vegetative annuals displayed in large containers, baskets, window boxes, and beds.

Read More
Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers

June 9, 2017

New Head Grower at Emerald Coast Growers is Excited abo…

Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers’ new general manager/head grower for its Lancaster, PA, location, talks about his favorite perennials, the advantages of growing in Pennsylvania, and his future hopes for his career.

Read More
Petunia 'Amore Mio' (Danziger)

June 8, 2017

AmericanHort Update on Genetically Engineered Petunias

AmericanHort is actively assisting affected plant breeders, distributors, growers, and retailers as the genetically modified petunia regulatory response continues. Since the last update, there have been several changes to the list of petunias confirmed or suspected of being genetically engineered and therefore unauthorized to be imported or sold. Also, the list of recognized laboratories for petunia variety confirmation testing has expanded. Most importantly, petunia varieties on the USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) list require an APHIS Form 2000 for importation. APHIS also began requiring that any Petunia spp. Shipments, not including regulated GE varieties, must be accompanied by a list of variety names. This resulted in some inspection delays at the USDA-APHIS plant inspection station in Atlanta over the past two weeks. In response, AmericanHort has negotiated a more flexible approach with APHIS, and new guidance has just been posted for importing Petunia plants, cuttings, or seed. The new guidance allows […]

Read More
Bailey Expo

June 8, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Expo to Take Place in Late July in Min…

This year’s expo will focus on bridging the gap with Millennials and non-gardeners through creative marketing, engaging in-store displays, and heightened customer service.

Read More
Scaevola Mix from Suntory

June 6, 2017

How Was Your Spring? Let Us Know by Taking Greenhouse G…

Please take a few minutes to answer Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 Spring Recap Survey. The deadline for completing the survey is June 20.

Read More
Eason Horticultural Resources Hot New Perennials Booklet

June 6, 2017

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials B…

“Hot New Perennials for 2018” is a compilation of information shared with Eason from a broad range of perennial young plant producers, breeding companies, and breeder representatives.

Read More
Beedance Bidens Yellow (Suntory Flowers)

June 1, 2017

Recommendations for Successfully Growing BeeDance Biden…

Anne Roberts of Meadow View Growers says growers in northern states can take advantage of cooler temperatures early in the season and grow BeeDance Bidens varieties with less heat.

Read More

May 30, 2017

Danziger Launching New Interactive Marketing Programs D…

The new campaigns include a focus on Danziger’s Amore petunia series, using videos and displays to help attendees “share their love” for Amore.

Read More

May 25, 2017

Genetically Modified Petunia Update: Breeders Take Swif…

Now that the initial shock of genetically engineered petunias is wearing off, breeders continue testing for tainted stock and look toward the future. On the consumer side, uncertainties remain.  

Read More

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Gen…

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More
Petunia F1 African Sunset from American Takii

May 22, 2017

Genetically Modified Petunia Update: Question and Answe…

AmericanHort’s key role interfacing with the USDA on the recall of genetically modified petunias has helped the horticulture industry rapidly address the problem. Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge talks about recent updates, the impact on the industry, and where it goes from here.

Read More
Eason 2017 spring trials report

May 16, 2017

New California Spring Trials Report Now Available From …

The report features genetics from 21 different breeding companies and information gathered from the 15 different stops on this year’s tour.

Read More
Schizachyrium scoparium The Blues

May 13, 2017

How Ornamental Grasses and Sedges Can Play a Role in Po…

Grasses and sedges provide food, shelter, and support for pollinators and the birds and mammals that keep insect populations in balance.

Read More
Asclepias with a bumblebee

May 8, 2017

How to Choose the Best Native Plants for Pollinator Gar…

The popularity of native plants is rising as gardeners become conscious of the need to plant more pollinator gardens. The challenge is to select the right plants to put in them.

Read More
Allan Armitage Of Naked Ladies and Forget Me Nots

May 2, 2017

Allan Armitage: How Growers Can Be Creative to Take Gar…

Our industry does a good job of making things convenient for our customers. It’s time to take it a step further.

Read More