2022 SPECIALTY CROP AUTOMATION REPORT
Jenny Maloney, Global Americas Strategic Accounts Manager at Bayer, has highlighted the importance of genetic innovation below (see Figure 40). She emphasizes the potential of genetic seed innovation to enable
improvements across production systems, including remodeled plant architecture, increased shelf-life, year-round produce availability and compatibility with automation technologies.
Global-Americas Strategic Accounts Manager at Bayer
GENETIC SEED INNOVATION TO ENABLE IMPROVEMENTS ACROSS PRODUCTION SYSTEMS New breeding techniques enable improvements of select crop characteristics with the aim of making them more desirable for the end-customer and more economical for the grower. Genetic seed innovations could play into four dimensions, being plant architecture (changing the growing structure of crops), shelf life (increasing shelf life and creating enhanced flavor), availability (allowing crops to grow in multiple seasons), and harvest (changes to plant architecture and fruit quality to make them more compatible with automation).
To achieve labor reduction traits, new genetics can help to improve harvest automation technology efficacy in several ways. For example, breeding efforts can improve the consistency of when bell peppers are mature and ready for harvest, which allows more peppers to be harvested at the correct time when using the automation technology. Novel genetics can also increase the efficiency of hand or automated harvest by offering easier fruit detachment from the plant and ensure higher marketable yield through increased post-harvest fruit quality that is robust to the stress of automated harvest. While crop innovation projects have long lead times, they are expected to provide notable benefits to farmers in the future. Furthermore, as harvest automation continues to progress, Bayer will remain committed to optimizing the use of those technologies in order to provide maximum benefits to growers and end-consumers.
Developing novel germplasm to render crops more compatible with automated harvesting technologies is expected to be a large driver in the future. Next to high-rise broccoli that was highlighted in last year’s report, bell peppers are gaining traction. For bell peppers, Bayer considers labor reduction and disease resistance as base traits for future products. Additionally, other traits can be layered such improved color, increased abiotic resistance, and optimized size and flavor.
Figure 40: Interview with Jenny Maloney (Bayer) – Genetic seed innovation in bell peppers
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