Abbott & Cobb’s new SuperSeedWare® (SSW® ) corn varieties offer multiple benefits to growers, from sowing to shipping, and to consumers from shelf life to flavor and texture. SSW® technology is being combined in some cases with StayRichGreen® (SRG® ) technology, which provides a deep green husk and enhanced photosynthesis. American Vegetable Grower asked Dr. Bryant Long, Vice President of Product Development at Abbott & Cobb about what characteristics he was focused on when developing these new varieties and why they hold such promise.
AVG: How do you balance the needs of both growers and consumers? What are the main traits growers and consumers want in a sweet corn variety, and how do they overlap?
Long: The first priority with growers is, of course, yield, yield, yield. Consumers are looking primarily for quality in appearance and great taste. The balance is somewhere in the middle. As breeders, we try to concentrate on productivity while providing characteristics that appeal to both growers and consumers. High pack outs with attractive un-husk and husk ear qualities are appealing all around. Naturally, beautiful ears with bright kernel color and excellent eating qualities make winners for both growers and consumers.
AVG: Can you explain how the company’s technology platform called SuperSeedWare® or SSW® improves crop performance under stress conditions?
Long: SuperSeedWare® (SSW®) is an example of attempting to satisfy both growers and consumers. This new patented technology provides numerous benefits to growers including improved seedling germination and seedling uniformity, enhanced root formation, greater stalk strength, increased marketable ear production, enhanced seed producibility and prolonged seed storagability. Consumers are benefited by attractive dark green husk appearance, bright fresh looking kernel color and excellent eating quality and holding abilities.
AVG: Are there differences in the way growers should plant or handle SSW® varieties vs. other types?
Long: SSW® varieties are considered highly durable, do not require isolation from other super sweet varieties, and are generally just easier to grow. SSW® seeds are denser than sh2 seeds and unlike sh2, they do not show defined denting or dimpling. SSW® seeds are heavier with smoother seed coats that process far better than conventional sh2 types.
Also, a very important benefit to growers is SSW®’s will very likely germinate and establish close to the planted populations ― overplanting to compensate for lower germ is no longer a requirement for growers.
AVG: SS Early Riser and SS28802MR are the two newest varieties using this technology. What were your goals when developing these varieties? How do they differ from the others?
Long: SS Early Riser is an early maturing variety designed for planting into colder or more stressful soil conditions. As per the strong germination and related characteristics outlined above, this variety is perfect for early plantings where generally difficult growing conditions are experienced.
SS28802MR also shares the excellent growing attributes of SS Early Riser while providing strong disease resistance, and excellent yields of attractive, high quality ears.
AVG: What are the benefits of the SRG® or StaysRichGreen® technology? I notice with SS28802MR the description says “SRG® plant and husk, better germ and vigor, SSW® conversion…” Please explain what that means — is it a combination of the two technologies? If so, what does that offer for the grower?
Long: SRG® refers to an unusually dark green plant color that tends to persist throughout the harvest period and beyond. This SRG® dark green plant color also extends to very attractive and long lasting dark green husk and flag leaves as well. The exceptional dark green plant color has been demonstrated to contain elevated levels of chlorophyll and associated photosynthetic enhancement. Consumers especially are pleased with the fresh looking husks and overall ear appearance. SRG® is a very promising addition to the SSW® characteristics.
AVG: What is the next big development we will see in sweet corn varieties?
Long: As mentioned earlier, the quest for the perfect balance between grower and consumer benefits is the big challenge. Plant breeders around the world are actively striving to meet these goals. The breakthroughs occur when the unique assemblies of a myriad of desirable grower and consumer benefits are melded together into the perfect variety where everybody wins. This, obviously, is a very tough and ongoing proposition. Talk about a plant breeder’s job security!!