Five aspects that Berries producers should expect from a genetic improvement program

Whether a new or established berry commercial production company, finding the right genetic improvement program can make or break your market position. Strawberry producers such as blueberries, cherries and grapes often resort to genetic improvement programs to obtain varieties of plants with higher yields, better fruit quality, flavor and other distinctive features to help improve their profit margins and protect their participation in the market.

To obtain and maintain a competitive advantage, there are five aspects that producers should expect and look for in a genetic improvement program:

1. Experience and efficiency in the development of varieties of breeding plants for their climatic zone and regional cultivation conditions

Does the program reproduce in climates and growth conditions similar to its operations? What is the reputation and history of the supplier in your region? Is the company established in your region? Request evidence and references. It will make a significant investment, so do your homework to examine genetic improvement companies and programs and help reduce risk.

Beware of exaggerated claims about plant productivity in new and unproven varieties. There is a big difference between how a variety will perform at a test site and in a large-scale commercial operation with the pressures to which the plants are exposed. Many respected breeding programs conduct small-scale assessments of plant varieties, but they must have the help of local producers to conduct field trials and collect data on a commercial scale.

Ricardo Márquez, Commercial Manager of Fall Creek Mexico.

A company that has been developing varieties of plants in Mexico for Mexico over the past decade is Fall Creek. The global blueberry nursery and development company is developing varieties with improved characteristics in flavor, texture, ease of harvesting and storage, long shelf life, fruit quality from freezing to defrosting and more. However, Fall Creek is cautious when introducing new varieties. The company does not release new plant material without extensive testing, commercially introducing the materials when they are most tested to reduce the risk to its producing customers. "Our team has a saying: we will tell you what we know and what we don't know," he said. Ricardo Márquez, commercial manager of Fall Creek Mexico. "And we always encourage our customers to consider trying new varieties in their own operations in their specific commercial cultivation conditions before investing on a large scale."

2. A network of reliable nursery production units to supply plants of the selected varieties

Once you have selected a genetic improvement program and perhaps reduced your interest to some varieties, do you know where your plants will come from? Whether it is a local nursery or not, most producers will not buy the plants directly from the breeding program facilities. They will buy them from a greenhouse or local supplier. Many breeding programs grant licensees permission to grow and produce a particular variety or varieties and then growers buy their plants from them. Fall Creek is unique in that the company has its own variety production company and a worldwide network of nurseries, including variety production nurseries in Mexico. In any of the models, growers should expect opportunities to see the plants at the test sites, data and even opportunities to buy some plants for commercial testing.

Producers must also rely on the nursery or supplier to ensure that their plants are tested for pathogens and pests. Therefore, ask about quality assurance. The Director of Product Development and Marketing of Fall Creek, Matt kramerHe explains: "Fall Creek recently improved its efforts to ensure a clean inventory of plants throughout its network of blueberry nurseries by incorporating its testing capabilities internally, a significant capital investment."

3. Support to the producer from the selection of varieties to the harvest

From assistance in selecting the most promising varieties for your region, to ensuring that plants arrive in the best conditions from local nurseries, to providing advice on variety management and technical support during field trials until commercial launch, you need a experienced provider. Producer support should not stop after their plants are delivered; You should expect a commitment of technical support from planting to harvest and beyond, as well as recommendations for planning future crops.

As mentioned earlier, never discard the importance of testing new varieties of plants, and certainly completely new crops, on a smaller scale before making a significant investment in the inventory of plants and devoting a greater amount of land to new plants. Its variety and nursery development partners are a resource in this effort. Kramer warns: “The test requires patience and a commitment to scientific rigor. However, it will not only protect your long-term financial investment, but also your reputation as a reliable supplier for your wholesale and retail customers and, ultimately, for your consumers. ”

4. An understanding of your business model, including the need for market differentiation

For many growers, an exclusive marketing agreement is an excellent option; for others, a different model is needed. Look for licensing options that give you the competitive advantage you are looking for. Fall Creek is offering a new licensing program with a wide range of blueberry plant varieties to help independent growers succeed in meeting “off-season” demand in export markets. Fall Creek Collection ™ is a simple license model aimed at professional growers who want to access exceptional blueberry varieties at a competitive price, with or without the obligation to supply the fruit through a particular marketing channel, and includes varieties developed in Mexico for Mexico.

5. A commitment to continuous innovation

An improvement program with a focus on research and development, applied research and having a large plant variety bank will be well positioned to provide you with a portfolio of plant varieties for the future. The Fall Creek applied research team will work closely with its sales and producer support team in its region to help optimize the management of each of its unique blueberry varieties. The research staff applied at the company's testing and R&D sites will investigate solutions to the production challenges of the most pressing crops of the producers and arm their producer support contacts with vital technical information, including guidelines for Pruning and nutritional techniques, and will produce specific crop guides for varieties and regions to help their clients achieve the best yield and best fruit quality.

In summary, there is a growing number of blueberry improvement programs worldwide that are introducing many new varieties. The result can be chaos and confusion in the market. Blueberry companies looking to add new varieties to their business operations should carefully consider their options. Planting commercial quantities of new genetics is a considerable and long-term investment. Be careful of large claims about varieties and choose a trusted silver supplier to help mitigate part of the risk. Asking the right questions, having access to the test data and seeing varieties on commercial demonstration or test sites by yourself, are critical steps in evaluating new varieties. Working with professional and experienced nurseries for the supply of plants and having guarantees of continuous support from producers and technical knowledge will ensure optimal success and return on investment.


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