Syngenta turns to Salinas for lettuce germplasm

05/09/2014 12:09:00 PM
Daniel Vanderhorst

Syngenta has acquired a lettuce germplasm from Salinas, Calif.-based Eagle Research and Development Inc.

The purchase for an undisclosed amount enables Minnetonka, Minn.-based Syngenta to expand its lettuce germplasm pool at a faster pace, according to a news release, and complement in-house iceberg breeding efforts for the U.S. market.

The germplasm is also expected to allow Syngenta to improve its tipburn resistance offering and offer additional plant performance characteristics for winter slot plantings.

Tipburn on iceberg lettuce is indicated by browning on the edges of still maturing leaves.

Eagle Research and Development was founded in 1975 by David Williams. The company has focused on improvements in lettuce production, harvesting, transportation and breeding.

Its breeding projects have included work on disease resistance and developing better commercial lettuces. In 2012 the National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, inducted Williams into its Valley of the World Hall of Fame to honor his work advancing agricultural research.

“This is an excellent opportunity to combine Eagle germplasm with Syngenta’s strong disease-resistance package,” Rick Mitchell, vegetables business manager at Syngenta, said April 17 in the release. “We will now be able to offer customers in the U.S. market additional options for a more complete iceberg lettuce portfolio.”

“It was (Williams’) reputation in part which attracted us to him and we look forward to continuing his legacy of innovation,” Mitchell said.

 

Starving citrus psyllids

Syngenta is promoting the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on psyllids to slow the spread of citrus greening disease, or HLB.

Neonicotinoids disrupt normal feeding behavior so that psyllids don’t feed on treated trees.

HLB-infected citrus trees don’t show symptoms during the first year, when it can pose an unchecked threat to other trees.

“For now, there is no cure for HLB, and no resistant citrus varieties are available,” John Taylor, Florida-based Syngenta agronomic service representative, said in a news release. “Management is difficult, but certain strategies can slow the spread of the disease.” Besides the neonicotinoids, those include promoting root health, planting disease-free nursery stock, and removing infected trees.

“We recommend that Florida citrus growers soil-apply neonicotinoids every six weeks, and in between make foliar applications of insecticides with different modes of action,” Taylor said. Syngenta’s Platinum 75 SG insecticide has thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid, as its active ingredient.


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