Seed World

Why the NAPB is Holding its Annual Meeting Outside the U.S. for the First Time

The National Association of Plant Breeders 2018 meeting will have a decidedly Canadian flair.

For the first time in the organization’s history, the NAPB annual gathering is being held north of the American border. From Aug. 7-10, 2018, the University of Guelph in Ontario will host the meeting and give attendees a taste of plant breeding, Canadian-style.

According to event organizer and NAPB member Elizabeth Lee (herself a professor in the University of Guelph’s Department of Plant Agriculture), the NAPB is often considered an American organization, when it is in fact open to breeders from outside the United States. It’s always had a small Canadian component (less than 10 per cent), but Canadian membership is growing and the group hopes hosting it outside the United States for the first time will increase awareness of the NAPB’s international mandate.

This year’s meeting will feature speakers who specialize in a number of crops that have an important role in Canada:

  • Asparagus — One of the few asparagus breeders in the world, David Wolyn, is based in Guelph. He’ll discuss the main components of an asparagus breeding program and highlight the important considerations that distinguish this vegetable from annual field crops.
  • Cannabis — This week, Canada’s senate approved a bill to legalize recreational marijuana use. Canada will be the first G7 nation to legalize recreational marijuana. Greg Baute of the British Columbia-based Anandia Labs will discuss how we can enable access to high-quality varieties that are optimized for large-scale production.
  • Winter wheat — Challenges and successes associated with breeding winter wheat for Western Canada. Anita Brûlé-Babel of the Department of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba will talk about how cultivar development has been a key factor in improving the viability of winter wheat production in Western Canada.
  • Canola — Rob Duncan is currently an associate professor and breeder at the University of Manitoba focusing on canola and rapeseed cultivar development. He has an excellent breeding team concentrating on breeding for improvements in seed quality, disease resistance and several agronomic traits.

This year, the meeting will feature a special musical guest. John R. Clark is a distinguished professor of horticulture at the University of Arkansas. His research responsibilities are his primary appointment, where he works in the University’s Division of Agriculture fruit breeding program. He has worked in the breeding program since joining the University of Arkansas in 1980. He’s also a musician, and will perform for attendees at a special barbecue event.

The event will feature a variety of other highlights including:

  • Reception and banquet featuring local bands
  • Pre-conference tour of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. A highly-skilled research team will demonstrate some leading-edge projects and breeding programs including sweet potatoes, apples, tomatoes and roses. You will hear about Vineland’s consumer insights & tomato flavour research, which assists to help guide the development of new tomato varieties.
  • Field tours at the Elora Research Station. Tour stops will include soybean, cereals, dry bean, corn, and Russian dandelion breeding programs, the recently completed “big data” dairy barn, and the DNA Barcoding Biobus.
  • Poster sessions and one-minute poster introductions
  • Award talks and 2018 awards

Although the early bird registration deadline has passed, registrations are accepted until July 27, 2018. Visit for info and to register!