Seed World

Beck’s Advances Breeding Program Through Continued Partnership With Computomics


Beck’s, the largest family-owned retail seed company in the United States, is proud to expand their collaboration with Computomics, a biotechnology company in Tübingen, Germany. The partnership, centered around predictive analytics, aligns Beck’s with top competitors when it comes to a modern breeding program.

“We are expanding our successful long-term partnership with Beck’s, in which we apply our disruptive machine learning technology to bring new hybrids to market that have been optimized for specific climates. This provides Beck’s a unique opportunity for growth,” said Dr. Sebastian J. Schultheiss, managing director of Computomics.

Computomics has proven its success as the most effective biotechnology company focused on machine learning. What does this mean for farmers? With Beck’s having one of the most extensive independent seed testing and breeding programs in the Corn Belt, the partnership with Computomics gives Beck’s access to machine learning-derived evidence that helps breeders identify the future outcome of a product based on historical data. Beck’s breeder predictions expanded from 30,000 to five million. That means more high-yielding, region-specific products delivered faster.

“Plant breeding is a numbers game. We aren’t looking for needles in haystacks; we’re building a database, predicting virtual hybrids, and then testing the top performers,” said Dr. Tom Koch, Beck’s breeding manager.

Beck’s corn breeder, Dr. Keith Rufener, stated that in the past, Beck’s relied heavily on in-field testing to determine the most promising hybrid. With Computomics technology, Beck’s is building a solid database of performance by predicting all possible genetic combinations. Today, Beck’s has 10 times more commercial candidates available and advanced more than 50 percent of those hybrids from year two to year three.

“We are pairing science with art,” said Jim Schwartz, Beck’s director of research, agronomy, and PFR. “It positions our program to take the next steps in advancing our breeding efforts.”