Syngenta Vegetable Seeds Discusses Newly Released Valor Variety; Rebecca Wente-Naylor and Bernie Hamel Tell All
WOODLAND, CA - There is a sense of kinship in the fields. I learned this first-hand when I had the chance to meet face-to-face with members of the Syngenta Vegetable Seeds team at the company’s research facility in Woodland, California. In between chomping down fresh melon slices, I got an inside look at the company’s breeding programs and newly released Valor seedless watermelon variety from Breeding Trial Specialist Rebecca Wente-Naylor and Value-Added Chain Lead Bernie Hamel.
“We’re focusing on disease resistance because that’s one of the main things our growers are asking for. From the breeding perspective, that’s what we want to deliver on,” Rebecca began candidly. “If a grower’s asking for it, we want to make it happen for them.”
For the Valor variety, which is one of Syngenta’s newest seedless watermelon offerings, it features intermediate resistance to Anthracnose race 1 and Fusarium Wilt race 1, which are two pervasive diseases in watermelon crops, according to Rebecca.
Another key aspect of Syngenta’s successful watermelon breeding program is its wealth of genetic diversity.
“We’ve done a lot to make sure we’re preserving as much diversity as possible,” said Rebecca. “Our germplasm has so much depth and variation. When our grower partners come to us with a specific need, there is a good chance that we’ll have the genetic diversity to fulfill it.”
While the Valor variety is continuing to be trialed, Syngenta reports the main growing areas the company has been targeting for this variety are Central Florida through South Georgia as well as South Texas. With 2022 approaching more quickly with each day, it won’t be long until Syngenta kicks off its first full production year for the Valor variety.
“In our trialing, we’ve seen that it produces consistent 45-count blocky fruit,” Rebecca concluded. “It also has a dark, pixelated rind and a deep, dark red flesh color intensity, which is something that our growers and consumers have really enjoyed. With Valor, we focused on improving our firmness and sugar content from some of the varieties that have been more prevalent in the market in the past.”
Syngenta has doubled down on the excitement of this variety’s launch, incorporating a charitable give-back aspect that supports the nation’s veterans.
“We are partnering with the National Watermelon Association (NWA). Starting in the 2022 season, for every plant purchased of the Valor variety through the Full Count® Plant Program at Syngenta, a percentage of sales will be donated to veterans’ associations through the NWA,” Bernie explained excitedly.
Further details of the Valor promotion such as the percentage of sales that will be donated and the period of the promotion will be made available by December 2021.
Take it from this trade news writer turned field trotter: Syngenta is certainly dedicated to supporting its customers and partners around the world with innovative varieties.