Seed World

ICIA Staff Explain How the Winter Farm Can Help You

Accelerate your seed development research and development (R&D) and achieve quicker speed-to-market using Illinois Crop Improvement’s counter-season services. Benefit from year-round breeding, growout, and research expertise provided by our team. Take advantage of continuous nursery options that allow for three generations in a single calendar year, all on our dedicated farming operation in Puerto Rico. The region’s warm climate, rich soil, and efficient drip irrigation system create ideal growing conditions.

We spoke with Lizandro Perez, the winter farm team lead for the Illinois Crop Improvement Association, and farm supervisor Delvin Marrero, to understand why Puerto Rico is an invaluable asset in the world of plant breeding.

When it comes to winter farming, Puerto Rico’s primary competitor is Hawaii. However, Puerto Rico has a clear advantage. With consistent daytime temperatures in the high 80s and evening temperatures never falling below 60, there is no risk of freeze damage. Moreover, this unique climate creates a tropical speedup phenomenon, leading to faster turnaround times compared to Hawaii.

In a direct comparison of the same seed planted in both regions on the same November date, the Puerto Rican plot was nearly two weeks ahead of the Hawaiian plot at harvest.

Additionally, choosing Puerto Rico over Hawaii offers practical benefits. The Midwest commute to Puerto Rico is shorter and less costly, while shipping products is faster and more affordable.

Lastly, Puerto Rico’s status as a Commonwealth of the United States means it operates under Federal laws and agencies, providing a regulatory framework that is familiar to companies from the U.S. and around the world. This adds further convenience and ease of operation for businesses.