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Becks Year-Round Corn Research Moves to Hawaii

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kauai-hawaiiBeck’s Hybrids plans to be busy each winter on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, but it will be all about research to deliver higher yields to farmers. The company has purchased the former BASF Seed Research Facility built there in 2012.

Director of research at Beck’s, Dr. Kevin Cavanaugh told HAT the move of most of the winter research facilities to Hawaii is part of their stepped-up corn breeding program to develop the highest performing germplasm possible.

“In order to do that these days, to use the most modern plant breeding techniques, you certainly use the summertime here to do a lot of research, but one very important piece is to be able to continue that research and continue advancements of generations of breeding material into the winter season,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to do that now on Hawaii, so that means we’ll have better control and be able to move things faster. On Hawaii we can do three generations a year, so for projects that are high value projects we can turn those three cycles in one year which speeds up the process. That means we’ll have more genetic gain and higher performing hybrids to offer Hoosier farmers.”

Beck’s assumes the land leases for about 1,000 acres of productive land, and they will own a 13,000 square foot, well equipped facility.

dr-kevin-cavanaugh“It has lab space, it has research dryers, office space, and some storage as well,” he said. “So a beautiful, brand new facility just built a few years ago, and along with that was all the equipment necessary to be able to conduct research on the island. Of course we’re focused on corn breeding and corn research and parent seed increases, so that was a perfect opportunity.”

Winter research has focused heavily in Chile and Mexico in recent years, and there has been additional work done in Argentina and Puerto Rico. Cavanaugh said consolidating on Kauai will give Beck’s better control and maintenance of winter research. He said a big part of the purchase process was educating the Hawaiian government about what Beck’s is and how they will be using the land there. Cavanaugh explains:cavanaugh-on-land-in-hawaii

“The Beck family is focused on helping farmers succeed by increasing corn yields,” explained Scott Beck, president of Beck’s. “This investment is essential to providing our corn breeders with the tools necessary to develop the next generation of world-class seed genetics for farmers.”

The Kauai, Hawaii facility will initially employ seven full-time employees and up to fifty part-time employees at peak operating times.

Beck’s is the largest family-owned, retail seed company in the United States.