Plant Breeding at Johnny's

Like most farmers and gardeners, you probably appreciate the results of good plant breeding. You also aren't alone if you find it mystifying. To help de-mystify it, allow me to tell short stories about how we bred six of our many "Bred-by-Johnny's" varieties.

I think that a sufficient glossary will be mostly built into the stories. But, I should say this: the basis for plant breeding, called "traditional plant breeding" in these days of biotechnology, is simply the manipulation of mating. As a breeder, you get an idea, and you manipulate mating in an attempt to get there.

Genetic engineering is something totally different — it's the mechanical transfer of a piece of DNA from a donor plant, or other kind of living thing, to another plant, with the goal of moving a trait from the donor. Mating is bypassed.

If you have questions, one of us involved in plant breeding at Johnny's will try to help.

Now here are the six stories. And after them, I'll briefly explain why we do this work.