b'Want to watch the full episode of Seed Speaks? Check out the full episode atgermination.ca/why-plant-breeders-need-to-know-who-their-customer-isA GAME-CHANGING VARIETYDEPENDS ON CUSTOMER FEEDBACKPlant breeders discuss why it matters knowing who your customer is.Marc ZienkiewiczWHAT MAKES Agame-changing variety? In a nut- The relationship between the breeding pro-shell, it needs to eclipse the currently grown vari- gram and the seed company is important for the eties either by yield, disease resistance or somelogistics of deciding when in fact to make that other trait to fill a market need. investment, and how large to make that invest-If you think about growers, a lot of themment.have their tried-and-true variety that they like toAccording to Pauls, in the early stagesas grow, and you need to have enough advantagethe company is establishing a market for the vari-over other varieties to draw them away from thatetyconstant conversations go back and forth old favourite and try out the new one, says Tombetween the breeding program and the seed Smith, a retired Canadian plant breeder who co- company. Hensall Co-op, the company that was created the Dynasty dark red kidney bean longresponsible for the commercialization of Dynasty,Istvan Rajcanwith fellow breeder Peter Pauls at the Universitywas critical to its success, and that had a lot to of Guelph. do with promoting it to its growers.Pauls knows what hes talking about. DynastyOur longstanding relationship with Hensall has become the dominant dark red kidney beanCo-op was key in its journey to becoming a suc-in Ontario and has become hugely popular out- cessful variety.side of that province, going on to become oneFor Istvan Rajcan, soybean breeder at the of the definitive kidney beans around. If youveUniversity of Guelph, creating a truly game-ever had a bowl of chili in North America, youvechanging variety involves a breeder possessing likely eaten Dynasty. business skill, which he says has been key to his Based on yield data generated through Ontariosuccessa piece of advice he learned many Pulse Crop Committee variety trials, Dynastyyears ago from Croatian plant breeder Vladimir consistently outperforms Red Hawk from thePuskaric, who was a maize breeder with Pioneer Michigan State University breeding program,Hi-bred in Woodstock, Ont. Peter Paulsshowing an impressive 613 lb/acre advantagePuskaric said that a breeder should know who (based on the five-year average) over Red Hawk. his or her customer is, and that has stuck with With current prices for kidney beans, thatsRajcan, who has developed 69 soybean varieties about $324.89 more per acre going back intoincluding OAC Kent, which won the Seed of the growers pockets if they grow Dynasty, saysYear Award in 2008.Ontario Bean Growers Project Manager JenniferThe applied research aspect of a breeders Mitchell. job means that we are developing cultivars that Its performance advantages are clear, but ofwe hope will be grown by the farmers. If theyre course its more than just yield that makes a vari- not grown my farmers, its a wasted effort in a ety successful in the market. sense. So, we need to constantly communicate There are lots of steps in between the releasewith our customers to find out what their needs of a new variety and its registration and its avail- are, he says.ability to the farmer. In particular, you need toTheyre good at telling us what traits are increase the seed from a few kilograms that weimportant or they think will be important severalTom Smithmight have in our breeding program, into theyears down the road, and then we adjust our tons of seed that are required in order to seedgoals and selection procedures to achieve those farmers fields. That commercialization step isgoals.done by companies and the companies licenseRajcan, Pauls and Smith are all recipients the right to increase the seed and then sell it toof Canadian Plant Breeding Innovation (CPBI) the farming community, notes Pauls. awards this year. 36GERMINATION.CAJULY 2022'