Grow Pro Genetics, with a wheat breeding program based in Hamel, is partnering with Greenville University to use GU’s greenhouse for the breeding of soft red winter wheat.
University officials believe this will benefit biology students, put the underutilized greenhouse to use and bring product development to Greenville.
Eric Nord, GU professor of biology and department chair, stated crop breeding involves very precise crossing of particular strains of a plant with other strains of the plant. In this case it’s wheat.
He advised Grow Pro has several hundred lines it is working on, trying to get the desirable traits from one line crossed into another line.
It was reported the use of the GU greenhouse will provide greater environmental control over the delicate breeding process during the winter months.
Professor Nord believes the collaboration will benefit students with the potential for hands-on demonstrations, summer internship opportunities and seeing applied biology in a corporate context.
Nord traced the beginning of the partnership back to conversations with GU alumnus Eli Gravert, manager of Grow Pro’s research station in Hamel.
Grow Pro will lease half of the university’s greenhouse space, an arrangement that will fund some capital improvements to the greenhouse. Members of the GU campus can expect to see tighter controls on greenhouse access.