Seed World

Seed World Recognizes Sierra Hartney as the 2017 Future Giant

Seed World's Julie Deering announces Sierra Hartney of Sakata Seed America as the 2017 Future Giant Award, as Dave Armstrong, president and CEO, accepts the award on her behalf. Photo: Cindy Zimmerman, AgWired.

Today (June 22), as part of the American Seed Trade Association’s 134th Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Seed World in partnership with the Future Seed Executives Committee recognized Sierra Hartney of Sakata Seed America as the 2017 Future Giant.

Hartney is a plant pathologist and manages all pathology breeder support activities for Sakata Seed America on the West Coast.

“All too often, the business world waits until as Joe [Funk] said yesterday ‘a person is old’ before recognizing them for their contributions to the industry, or a business,” said Seed World Editor Julie Deering, who presented the award. “I believe it’s just as important to recognize the hard work, dedication and sacrifices that individuals make early in their career to help advance the industry.”

This year, Deering said the nomination pool was full of early career individuals who are working hard and making a difference. As such, the judges had their work cut out for them. The nominees were judged based on their dedication to the industry, their ability to make a significant contribution to the seed industry, as well as their leadership both in the workplace and in the community.

While it was competitive, Hartney’s name quickly rose to the top of the ranks. Hartney joined Sakata in 2012, after graduating with a doctorate in plant pathology from Oregon State University.

When she first started, three of the crops that she worked on were for use in the baby leaf market with planting densities that exceed 4 million seeds per acre. At such high planting densities, the quality standards are intense and any leaf blemishes at harvest are cause for concern.

Anyone familiar with the sector knows that keeping spinach downy mildew under control is extremely difficult, given there are 16 named races of a fungal pathogen that seem to mutate, overcoming existing spinach resistance extremely fast.

Through her work, Hartney has become proficient in working with the idiosyncrasies of spinach and beet downy mildew pathogens under controlled conditions to achieve uniform results with each test, and the commercial varieties that come out of the breeding program with downy mildew resistance claims stand up exceedingly well under most field conditions.

Her work has recently been recognized internationally with presentations at the International Spinach Conference and at the United Kingdom Brassica and Leafy Salad Conference, among others.