Plant Breeder Troy Thorup: If Consumers’ Needs Aren’t Met, They Won’t Buy

Troy Thorup Plant Breeder PanAmerican Seed Co.

Troy Thorup
Plant Breeder
PanAmerican Seed Co.

Troy Thorup breeds various seed and vegetative annual bedding plants for PanAmerican Seed. He has been a breeder for 13 years and holds a Ph.D. in plant genetics and breeding


GG: What crops do you feel will be relevant and important over the next 30 years?
Thorup: Anything that can balance the combination of beautiful and hard to kill.

GG: Will the fervor for all new varieties continue in the industry? Will breeders begin to focus on filling consumers’ needs?
Thorup: In my breeding, I don’t view these two things as separate issues. My goal in creating new varieties is largely driven to fulfill consumers’ needs. At the end of the day, if the consumers’ needs aren’t met, they will not buy the product.

GG: How will breeders address needs to reduce chemicals by increasing crop resistance to pests and diseases?
Thorup: This is a tough question to answer concisely as there are many factors that come into play. There also isn’t one specific technology or approach – current or future – that will be the answer for all ornamentals. The need, approach and likelihood of success will all differ according to the type of plant. It is amazing, however, how quickly technology is advancing and I have high hopes problems that seem impossible to solve today will quickly be within our grasp.

GG: How did you come to this industry and specialty?
Thorup: I knew I wanted to become a plant breeder early in my education. It was the combination of art and science that drew me in. While I trained on vegetables, I jumped at the chance to work with ornamentals, as this is where the art and the science are inextricably entwined.

GG: What is one outlandish prediction you have for floriculture in the next 30 years?
Thorup: The need for flowers and plants that grow well in gravity free conditions for those living in outer space.