Research Facility in Woodland
Edited by Patrick Cavanaugh and Laurie Greene
Company TODAY announced the completion of a $31 million expansion at its Seminis
vegetable seed research headquarters in Woodland, CA. The expansion includes a 90,000 square-foot
state-of-the-art research laboratory and office building, establishing the
location as Monsanto’s primary site for molecular breeding of vegetable seeds. Unveiled
today during a special open house, Monsanto’s lab in Woodland is the largest of
its kind in the world for vegetable seed health testing.
|A Crowd Gathers in Woodland to See the new Monsanto|
Vegetable Seed Research Facility.
facility’s open house attracted more than 100 attendees interested in seeing
how Monsanto provides its customers quality seeds with requested traits, and
good taste and nutrition for its consumers.
“The space and resources this expansion brings to Woodland
will allow us to increase our research and help farmers everywhere grow more
new, exciting products for the world’s dinner tables,” said Mark Oppenhuizen,
Woodland’s strategy and operations lead. “It also allows us to maintain a close
working relationship with our customers in an area which has become a hub for
seed science and which generates seed for more than half of all vegetables
grown in the U.S.”
|A Ribbon Cutting event just prior to the Open House.|
“We sell product in 160 countries,” Oppenhuizen said. “One thing about the vegetable business,
there is tremendous passion about our products. Vegetable consumers are excited
about the products that come from our seeds, as are the farmers who grow them.”
Steady growth in the vegetable seed business over the past
few years at the Woodland site spurred the expansion. This facility employs approximately
250 full-time personnel and 150 contract seasonal employees.
Traditional breeding remains Monsanto’s main focus in its research
on more than two dozen types of vegetables. Yet, the expansion
includes the addition of a seed chipper process created by Monsanto
engineers. Analyzed seed chips (small
parts of the seed) enable research breeders to know the characteristics of a
plant—before it is planted. Breeders then
conduct more efficient research trials to pinpoint vegetable traits that will
improve grower productivity and provide consumers with improved benefits such
as better vegetable taste, color and quality.
open house accompanied the 2013 Woodland Field Day at which eight Seminis
breeders showed their research and how it is designed to meet the demands of
growers worldwide and consumers who seek more nutritious vegetables in produce
are just a few of the breeders that California Ag Today editors spoke to:
breeder Alan Krivanek noted that
Seminis is working on fresh market tomatoes with the economy of choice for
consumers. “We want growers to have a great tomato to grow and earn a profit,
but we also want consumers to have a choice on flavor, color and nutritional
value,” he said.
melon breeder Jeff Mills is working
on western shipper-type melons. In his trial, one variety, 0099, is well suited
for the spring and fall seasons in Arizona. Another variety, 0331, shows promise
for the spring and fall market throughout California “This cantaloupe has a nice firm shell, with
high flesh firmness and a wonderful flavor,” said Mills. “It yields a good size
9 across all growing areas.”
breeders Greg Tolla and Jerome Bernier brought out some
seedless watermelon lines with wonderful Brix and good 45 to 60-size count.
“Our newest oblong-striped seedless, SV0241WA, is a good yielder for the grower
and very adaptive to all growing areas in the country,” he said.
variety is part of our overall portfolio of good producers, 36, 45 and 60s with
a good range of resistance to Anthracnose, Fusarium and Powdery Mildew,”
and Toll are breeding watermelons for all the Americas, Europe, the Middle East
and Australia. Nearly all the varieties in the trials are seedless types, but
these breeders also work on some valuable seeded types that are still enjoyed
around the world.
|A New Seedless Watermelon line.|
breeder Nischit Shetty went over his
special lines that include pickling varieties grown throughout the U.S. and on
about 6,000 acres in the San Joaquin County. “We have many cucumber lines for
the slicing market,” Shetty said.
of the big areas that Seminis has been addressing on is Downy Mildew
Resistance, and we have two commercial slicing variety hybrids, SV3462CS and
SV4719CS, that are showing enhanced levels of Downy Mildew resistance,” he
Brian Just is a sweet pepper
breeder; he highlighted a commercial variety of green bell pepper called
Huntington. “The feedback from growers has been positive as Huntington is
showing great adaptation for nearly all micro-climates, including the Fresno
and the coastal growing areas as well,” he said.
said that Huntington is a small and sturdy plant with dense foliage that
provides a canopy to protect the fruit from sunburn. “It also has Tomato
Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV)-resistance that is holding up very well, and it is a
great yielder,” he noted.
Marlin Edwards, the Seminis Chief
Technology officer said the Woodland operation does everything it can to ensure
that we deliver quality seeds to our customers around the world.
Labels: Alan Krivanek, Brian Just, Greg Tolla, Jeff Mills, Jerome Bernier, Mark Oppenhuizen, Marlin Edwards, Monsanto Vegetable Seed Research Woodland, Nischit Shetty