Pumpkins, sweet corn & plant breeding–a helpful mix

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by Jay Reesor

It’s the time of the year when we head to the field to cut pumpkins. No, we don’t go and make jack o’lanterns, but we do cut the pumpkins from the vines and put them in bins to bring to the market. And we do have some nice pumpkins in the field this year despite the dry, dry summer. All of the pumpkins are a little bit smaller than they would be if we’d had normal rainfall, but the quality is still very nice.

And speaking of quality: plant breeders have not only produced some much improved pumpkin varieties, but improved varieties of other crops as well. They’ve improved the sweetness and tenderness of our corn and the stem quality on the pumpkins and bred green beans to mature uniformly on the plant to facilitate harvest. All of this has been done with plant breeding and not genetic engineering.

Hey there high school and university students who love science. Looking for a calling? Consider plant genetics and plant breeding and make an important contribution to our community and the world’s food supply!