Plant Breeding: Inspired by the Past

During the mid-1800s,

Gregor Mendel, an Austrian living in a monastery became obsessed with the characteristics of pea plants.

He wondered, if one plant is tall and another short — how tall will the offspring be? Why are some characteristics passed on, and others not?

This question of heredity

continued to consume Mendel.
To find the answer, he turned to his garden.

7 Years and
28,000 Plants Later…
He Cracked the Code

After breeding different pea plants together, he developed a theory.

Mendel claimed there were invisible “factors” that determine a plant's size, color and shape — in other words, the characteristics they inherit. Today, we call these invisible factors “genes” and this insight formed the foundation of modern plant breeding and genetics.

Today, building upon the work of Mendel and others, we invest roughly 50% of our research budget into plant breeding.

Our curiosity extends beyond the characteristic of pea plants, but our toolbox incorporates principles similar to those used by Mendel. And like him, we continue to ask questions. Why are some crops more resistant to disease? How does one thrive on very little water while another needs more?

We search for what makes them special.

This process of plant breeding takes two parent plants and crosses them to produce an offspring. Like all offspring, this plant inherits certain traits or characteristics from each parent. Generally, this process known as crossbreeding is done over and over with many different plants — resulting in a new plant with a new combination of characteristics. This offspring is often better equipped to withstand pests, disease, drought, the effects of climate change and other factors. In the end, our plant breeders work to provide farmers with seeds that produce crops to help nourish people, as well as maximize the use of resources, improve harvests and support the livelihood of growers.

Helping Plants Adapt

Climate change and unpredictable weather pose many challenges to both people and plants. Our team of plant breeders identifies characteristics in crops that can, among other things, help enhance plant health, discourage disease or pests and offer farmers a variety of seeds for growing fruits, vegetables and grains. Beyond plant breeding, our research and partnerships offer data-driven, high-tech solutions to farmers dealing with the effects of climate change.

Helping Farmers Thrive

We're always thinking about what farmers face today and will face in the future. This means using all the tools available to us, including plant breeding that develops varieties resistant to specific pests or diseases. If we work together, farmers can have more successful harvests and continue to bring food to our plates.

Helping Nourish People

Using the same principles Mendel studied, we breed new varieties that can contribute to a balanced diet. From cherry tomatoes to miniature bell peppers and sweet corn, our plant breeding helps growers provide shoppers with more convenient and accessible choices.