Phytelligence Announces Janus Management to Consult and Catalyze Sales Discussions in Argentina

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Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announced that it will accept grower order introductions made by agricultural engineer, Ing. Agr. Jorge Aragón – through JANUS Management and Consulting. This decision will catalyze discussions for the sale of rootstocks and finished trees throughout the country of Argentina. Phytelligence will bring its advanced MultiPHY™ technology to South America to meet the needs of growers looking to plant new land or rebuild existing orchards. The MultiPHY™ process provides disease- and virus-free, identity-confirmed plant material to growers, helping them save money by providing them the largest volumes of the highest quality plants that fruit faster than the competition.

Aragón has extensive knowledge of Phytelligence’s capabilities, as well as a deep understanding of the specific needs of Argentinian growers. Phytelligence will work together with Aragón to fulfill orders in the desired quantities.

“We’re looking forward to facilitating the delivery of superior quality trees to the growers of Argentina through Ing. Agr. Jorge Aragón,” said Phytelligence CEO, Ken Hunt. “Our mission is to serve growers across the globe, and our connection with Aragón and JANUS Management and Consulting brings us one step closer to accomplishing this goal.”

To inquire about ordering please contact:

Ing. Agr. Jorge Aragón


Mobile: +59 9 299 571 1049


Paul Nelson, Phytellgience


Mobile: +1 509–860-2400


About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing food crops. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest while reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. In addition, Phytelligence has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain.

Phytelligence was founded in 2012 by Dr. Amit Dhingra, Associate Professor of Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research at Washington State University. Phytelligence is headquartered in Seattle with labs and greenhouses in Burien, Washington, Pullman, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Currently, Phytelligence has more than 100 employees and continues to grow.

Phytelligence Steps in to Solve Florida Citrus Rootstock Problem

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Phytelligence, an agricultural biotechnology company revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, has signed a citrus rootstock licensing agreement with Florida Foundation Seed Producers, giving Phytelligence customers the opportunity to access true-to-type, virus and disease free rootstock that’s also citrus-greening disease tolerant.

The licensed rootstocks were released as part of the University of Florida’s Citrus Fast Track Release Option. The citrus rootstocks were selected based on their positive reaction to Huanglongbing disease (HLB, or citrus greening disease) during field trials under severe HLB disease pressure. Scion trees grafted onto these rootstocks showed a reduced frequency of infection and reduced disease symptoms once infected when compared to other commercial rootstocks, according the Florida Foundation Seed Producers.

The University of Florida license gives Phytelligence propagation rights to the following citrus rootstock cultivars:

  • UFR-1
  • UFR-2
  • UFR-3
  • UFR-4
  • UFR-5
  • UFR-6
  • UFR-15
  • UFR-16
  • UFR-17

As part of their emphasis on replenishing the citrus industry in Florida, Phytelligence will immediately establish Florida-based facilities to begin the rootstock initiation process. Phytelligence will also continue to genetically confirm all rootstocks that come from their facilities, eliminating the rootstock mix-up issues prevalent in the industry. In addition to being genetically confirmed via a DNA-based process, all plants produced by Phytelligence are disease and virus free.

“It is absolutely critical to plant trees with rootstocks that are tolerant to citrus greening disease and the only way to be 100 percent sure the rootstocks planted are true-to-type, is to use a DNA-based certification process,” stated Dr. Fred Gmitter, Citrus Breeder, University of Florida.

Citrus greening disease has plagued Florida and the surrounding areas, leading growers to rip out infected trees and scramble to plant new, disease-tolerant rootstock. The combination of infected orchards and recent natural disasters has left growers with few options to obtain citrus-greening disease tolerant rootstock to replant. With this licensing deal, Phytelligence will be able to provide confirmed true-to-type rootstock to growers at a much more rapid pace.

To inquire about citrus rootstock, contact Paul Nelson at , or at (509) 860-2400. To learn more about Phytelligence, visit our website:

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing food crops. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest while reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. In addition, Phytelligence has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain.

Phytelligence was founded in 2012 by Dr. Amit Dhingra, Associate Professor of Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research laboratory at Washington State University.  Phytelligence is headquartered in Seattle with locations in Pullman, Washington and Portland, Oregon. In 2016, Phytelligence expanded their footprint to include an 8-acre Seattle-based greenhouse space and a Portland-based tissue culture production facility. Currently, Phytelligence has 75 employees and continues to grow.



Ashley Mann

Director of Marketing and PR for Phytelligence

(206) 300-9891






Burien startup Phytelligence avoids getting dirty with its tree-growing technology

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Trees generally grow in soil, but a Burien biotech startup thinks they just might grow better in gel. Phytelligence has developed a way for trees, most commonly fruit trees, to grow during their early days in a nutrient-rich gel. It provides a sterile environment to cut down on viruses that might attack the plant and to make sure that all trees of one variety are uniform.Orchards can be a risky business that

Orchards can be a risky business that take a long time to reach fruition — often taking 10 years, said Phytelligence CEO Ken Hunt. Trees grown in soil and sold to farmers can also become damaged during transplanting.Phytelligence’s technology aims to cut down on

Phytelligence’s technology aims to cut down on tree-mortality rates and make it easier for farmers to grow more plants, more quickly in gel with custom nutrients for each plant variety.

The process was first created at Washington State University by associate professor Amit Dhingra and spun out into a company nearly six years ago. Dhingra realized that previous gel-based technologies were based on a recipe for tobacco plants. He set about customizing the tissue culture gels for other types of plants.

The startup recently raised $6.9 million from investors, bringing its total funding to $12.6 million. Its most recent funding round was led by Cowles Co. of Spokane, a family-owned investment group that owns The Spokesman-Review and invests in growing businesses. The Washington Research Foundation also invested in Phytelligence’s round.

Phytelligence, which has 70 employees, now works with about 30 customers and can grow up to 29 million plants every year in its facility in Tigard, Ore. The startup grows the plants for between 12 and 24 months and then sells them to farmers — most commonly as rootstock, or an underground stem.

Phytelligence charges about $1.95 for each rootstock, higher than the going rate of about $1.70, but Hunt said the results pay off in more developed and less diseased trees.

Article Link:

Seattle Week in Review: MSFT Sales Reorg, UW, Phytelligence, & More

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Agtech startup Phytelligence, a Washington State University spinout using genetic analysis and sterile growing environments to improve the quality and volume of fruit tree rootstocks and provide other services to farmers, has raised $6.95 million in the first closing of a Series B funding round.

Spokane, WA-based Cowles Company led the investment, with participation from WRF Capital. The company says the funding round could grow to $16 million total, later this summer.

The funding will support expanded production, and “research for developing, owning, and commercializing new rootstock and varieties of apples, cherries, pears, and grapes to further meet the needs of growers and consumers,” according to a news release.

The company, founded in 2012 by WSU associate professor of horticulture genomics and biotechnology Amit Dhingra, is headquartered in the Seattle area, where it has an 8-acre greenhouse, with research and development offices in Pullman, WA, and Portland, OR, where it operates a tissue-culture production facility. The company has 70 employees.

Its earlier financial backers include angel investors from Keiretsu Forum Northwestand Element 8, though the majority of the company’s initial funding round came from individual investors from the Northwest tree fruit industry.


Phytelligence Partners with Cornell to Grow Geneva Rootstocks

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Phytelligence has announced a collaboration with Cornell University to test, store and grow new and existing commercial Geneva rootstock varieties for future production. The agreement allows Phytelligence to increase the speed to market of newly developed apple rootstock, while also enabling large-scale, rapid production of enough quality rootstock to fulfill the needs of all apple growers.     

For more than 125 years, Cornell has developed cutting-edge technologies essential to accelerating the growth of the agricultural industry. From developing safe and nutritious foods to pioneering means to preserve the environment, Cornell serves agricultural producers, food businesses and farm families throughout the industry. Among the most recognized of their agricultural contributions is the creation of the many Geneva apple rootstock varieties, widely regarded as the leading rootstock varieties in the apple industry.

The Push to Make Pears the New Apples

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The_Atlantic_magazine_logo.svgAMSTETTEN, AUSTRIA - MAY 02: Giant must pears (symbol for the Lower Austrian called so called "Must District") is seen at the radial highway to Amstetten , the town, where a father imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and had seven children with her, on May 2, 2008 in Amstetten, Austria. According to police Josef F. kept his daughter Elizabeth, now 42, imprisoned in his basement and sexually abused her. Three of the children, now aged 5, 18 and 19, had never seen the light of day until the eldest was recently taken to hospital because of a severe illness. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

The Push to Make Pears the New Apples

Taryn Phaneuf

Amit Dhingra is on a mission to make America fall in love with the pear. In a lab at Washington State University, the 45-year-old horticulture researcher has dedicated much of the last decade to the shapely fruit. Building off relationships with pear growers who say their businesses are held The Push to Make Pears the New Apples A horticulturist wants a different fruit to rule America’s grocery aisles.

Building off relationships with pear growers who say their businesses are held back by a lack of scientific understanding of their product, Dhingra has mapped the pear genome, bred new trees, and even found a way to ripen the notoriously stiff fruit.

Throughout this work, Dhingra—who is affectionately known to some fruit growers in the Pacific Northwest as “Yogi Pear”—has been adamant in making the case that the pear is distinct from, and maybe more delicious than, its sexier, more successful sister: the apple. Pears can’t compete with the longstanding agricultural pinup in convenience and variety, he says—but only because they ’ve been pushed to the sidelines in research and marketing.

So he has taken it upon himself to level the playing field. With some better approaches, he believes, pears could step out from behind apples and come into their own. “Getting a nicely ripened pear is harder than winning the lottery, ” Dhingra says. “The true nature of the fruit hasn’t been explained.”

Agriculturally, pears have long sat in apples’ shadow, in large part because they haven’t been considered different enough to merit any special attention. “For decades, a lot of researchers have told [growers], ‘We’re going to study apples, and pears are like apples, so we’ll learn something about pears by studying apples, ’” says Tyson Koepke, a molecular plant scientist who works at a plant biotechnology company that spun out of Dhingra’s lab. “But pears are pears. They ’re not apples.”

In just one example of how scientific funding is allocated, the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, which doles out money for fruit-related projects in Washington, approved more than $1.7 million for apples in 2016. Cherries received nearly $800,000. Pears got about $590,000. The commission funds research based on how many tons of fruit are produced in the state. Industry groups pour additional funding into research, and because researchers’ time follows the money, they spend more man-hours developing new varieties and better trees for apples.

The success of Gala or Honeycrisp then sends more money back into the industry, which fuels more research, and so forth. The pear market has been flatfor the last 30 years. Fruit growers know consumer trends matter just as much in the produce bins as they do in the cereal aisle, so a lot of their efforts in breeding new varieties are dedicated to new gimmicks, like an apple that doesn’t brown.

Growers wait years—sometimes decades—for better trees whose fruits stand out from the other 600 fruits and vegetables in grocery stores. But the pear market has been flat for the last 30 years. Working against better funding and more diverse breeding practices is the fact that pears just aren’t that popular among consumers in the first place. “Pears are much more difficult to get out to the consumer at the right stage to eat, ” says Kate Evans, who runs WSU’s tree-fruit breeding program and focuses mostly on new and better apple varieties. That’s because, unlike apples, pears don’t ripen on the tree.

Ripening happens when starch converts to sugar—a process that isn’t activated for most pears until after they ’re picked and stored at a cool temperature for a certain length of time. Anjous, a popular variety, take 30 to 60 days of storing before they ’re ready to eat. “The apple doesn’t have to go through that post-harvest conditioning in order for it to soften and ripen and be really nice and edible, which makes the apple a much easier piece of fruit to work with, ” Evans says. In other words, pears are stuck. People don’t eat more pears because it’s difficult to tell when they ’re ripe and they don’t seem as versatile as apples. Marketers try to teach people how to pick pears and draw attention to recipes and health benefits, but so far it hasn’t worked. And that means there’s less money to find ways to make pears more appealing.

That’s where Dhingra comes in. He says it’s time to address the consumption problem by offering pears in a more convenient package. And sliced pears are his ticket to success.

Dhingra grew up in New Delhi, India, where he was surrounded by the struggle for food. While his parents wanted him to follow them into the medical field, he thought it would be more useful to help feed more people. He spent the last year of his Ph.D. in plant molecular biology at Rutgers University, and then went to the University of Florida, where he studied strawberries. In 2006, he joined WSU’s faculty for two reasons: to make a name for the school’s tree-fruit genomics research and to serve the needs of the fruit industry.

This suits him well; he’s become known for his conviction that basic science should go hand-in-hand with applied science. It’s important to him to explain how and why something works, as well as to find a way to change or leverage that feature for growers.

Dhingra’s research is tangible, says Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest, the marketing organization for fresh pears grown in Washington and Oregon. “He definitely has a soft spot for pears. He’s recognized a void where there hasn’t been a champion.” In a push to introduce sliced pears, Dhingra joined with Crunch Pak, the same company that popularized sliced apples—the ones that became the healthy alternative to chips or fries at fast-food restaurants. In the last couple of years, they’ve tested a ripening compound that helps pears ripen more predictably. Federal funding last year is allowing them to conduct taste tests.

Sliced apples changed the game by finding a way for fresh fruit to compete with novelties like Go-Gurt. Between 1980 and 2005, apple production jumped from 4.9 billion pounds to 6.6 billion pounds, thanks in large part to the introduction of apple slices, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sliced apples contribute more than $250 million, or a tenth, to the apple market each year.

Crunch Pak claims Americans eat enough apple slices each year to average 65 whole apples per person. Pears are difficult to slice, package, and sell because of the way they ripen. But Dhingra has found a way around the problem using a two-step chemical approach. First, he applies SmartFresh, a compound already used on apples that blocks the ripening hormone ethylene.

This puts fruit into a state of “ suspended animation, ” Dhingra says, which allows them to be stored yearround. But treated pears never get soft and juicy like they should (“You can play baseball with those pears, ” Dhingra says). So Dhingra’s lab developed a second compound that reverses the effects of SmartFresh after it’s been applied. The idea is that pears can be treated with SmartFresh to be stored and sliced while they ’re hard, then brought back to life long enough to be sold.

Using industry funding, Dhingra has been working with Crunch Pak to test sliced pears. After figuring out how much of the compound to apply, they performed a large-scale taste trial at the Food Innovation Center in Portland. So far, he’s seen a positive response. They ’ll conduct tests for another year while waiting for a patent to be finalized. From there, his hope is that it gets licensed for production. Moffitt, who is optimistic yet conservative in his expectations of what slices could do for the pear market, guesses they could help the market grow by 9 percent in the near future. “It really depends on which variety and which sizes are pulled out, ” Moffitt says. Growers will sell fruit in whatever form they can, whether fresh or processed, like in a fruit cup.

Fresh pears make the most money, but not every pear makes the cut for grocery stores—it depends on the size and condition. So selling sliced pears may not fetch a higher price than selling a fresh, whole pear, but it could still mean a higher price than other processing options.

In Washington’s Wenatchee Valley, Josh Koempel turns his pickup onto a gravel path flanked by pear trees. His orchard is a picture of progress in the pear world, he says: Three generations of trees exist in this one area, and the differences in how they were planted are startling if you know what to look for. Like everything else about pears, the best way to grow the fruits is poorly understood.

For decades, apples and cherries have benefitted from trees bred to be small, because shorter trees are easier to work with. Growing systems that space their branches uniformly apart have allowed apple growers to plant trees closer together in ways that capture more light, so they produce more quality fruit in less space. Koempel doesn’t wantto be content with a consistent but underwhelming output; he wants pears to be stars. Pears, meanwhile, still grow on taller trees that take up more space.

The lack of innovation stems partly from how reliably pear trees produce fruit in the first place. “Pears are pretty steady in terms of return. … Apples are more volatile. Cherries are crazy, ” Koempel says. “If it comes over and rains today on top of a cherry crop, the cherries will absorb water so fast, they ’ll crack.” Because growers are content with the fruit’s stability, they ’re less inclined to change and innovate. “Sometimes your greatest strengths are also your biggest weaknesses, ” Koempel says.

But like Dhingra, whom Koempel met in 2007 and convinced to map the pear genome, Koempel doesn’t want to be content with a consistent but underwhelming output; he wants pears to be stars. He’s trying to see how densely he can plant pear trees to get the best, most consistent fruit while making picking as efficient as possible. In his orchard, the oldest section of pear trees includes plenty of elbow room and gnarled branches jutting out in every direction; the aisle is probably big enough for Koempel’s pickup.

Another block, which his dad put in about 20 years ago, includes trees planted a little closer together with branches that grow with slightly more uniformity but still cast shadows on fruit growing lower on the tree. The newest section is an experiment. It consists of a few rows of one pear variety, then another, in a system that’s used by apple growers but doesn’t exist for pears. The trees are trained to grow two-dimensionally on a trellis, with branches reaching to the sides but not to the front or back.

As they grow, Koempel coaxes them out diagonally, leaning toward the open aisle between rows, so the fruit captures light more evenly. “A lot of what’s driving what I’m doing in pears right now is making people more efficient by the way we manipulate the system, ” Koempel says. “The problem with agriculture, at least in the tree world, is it takes a long time to change.

Computers double every six months. For us to go from here to there is a 10-year endeavor. By the time you get things changed and up to speed to where we think we’re doing good, you’re always gambling. Did the American consumer decide to go somewhere else?” Dhingra thinks expanding the pear market through sliced pears could work backwards and invigorate the rest of the growth and distribution system. Developing a new product is faster than addressing the more basic needs of growers.

But it’s only one of many projects he’s pursuing that might be able to bring pears closer to apples’ level—and that could shape the fruit-growing industry on the whole. In addition to wanting more people to eat pears, the pear industry wants new rootstocks—the bases of trees that genetically determine their characteristics. When a grower plants an orchard, he buys rootstocks, then takes cuttings from other trees and grafts it onto them.

The cutting dictates which variety the tree will produce, like Bartlett, Anjou, or Comice; the rootstock determines the tree’s size, the spacing and angle of its branches, when it will first produce fruit, and so forth. Pear growers are on the hunt for rootstocks that give them hardy, dwarfed trees that produce fruit early, with branches at nearly 90-degree angles.

But planting new pear varieties hasn’t been a priority for growers, in part because they don’t have rootstocks with the features they want. Since new orchards are expensive, growers don’t want to take that step until they ’re certain that they—and the public—will like the result.

Traditionally, the process of developing new rootstocks that can be used by growers takes 20 years or more. But time is an impediment Dhingra has already found a solution to.

During his research, his lab stumbled upon a way to grow plants more quickly without soil. He commercialized the method and formed Phytelligence, an agriculture biotechnology company, in 2012. The company grows plants in jars in a nutrient-rich solution. After a month, each plant can be cut and multiplied into two or three pieces.

In a year, one bud becomes 250,000 plants. Where it takes three to five years to get new trees from a nursery, Phytelligence could provide new rootstocks ready to be budded in 12 to 18 months.  “Ten years ago, when I started touring the industry, I didn’t want them to tell me one problem. I wanted to see how does this all connect?” Dhingra says. “We’re not solving one problem at a time. The only thing I think I did is connect the dots.”

Phytelligence Sells Out Entire Capacity for Spring 2017 Orders

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Phytelligence, a platform agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announced the closing of their Spring 2017 booking season, turning away over 1 million in unfulfilled plant requests due to selling out their entire plant capacity. Despite expanding their volume 10 times over from 2015 to 2016, Phytelligence sold out of their available plant stock for the Spring 2017 season. The company is rapidly increasing capacity to support growers and remedy the severe shortage of quality rootstock in the industry. Phytelligence is already booking orders for Spring 2018 and expects a short selling window as growers scramble for viable plants.


Founder and Chief Science Officer Amit Dhingra said, “I founded Phytelligence in 2012 to solve growers problems, including the scarcity of good quality plant materials and rootstock. We will continue to grow at a rapid pace until we have serviced our grower customers’ needs.”


Phytelligence began the year strong by establishing their Seattle headquarters, starting the Portland tissue culture lab, and pivoting the Pullman location to focus on discovery and genetics. In just 5 months, sales for Phytelligence are already four times what was achieved the entire year in 2015.


Selling for the Spring 2018 season is underway as Phytelligence looks to take advantage of their new increased plant capacity. Customers looking for rootstock should plan to book soon before Spring 2018 is sold out.


Phytelligence currently offers virus clean, genetically true to type, healthy plants in the following crops:

  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Cherry
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Grape
  • Almond
  • Hops

The company encourages growers to contact Tim O’Brien at 206-719-5317 or for more information on available plants.


About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is a platform agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown. Utilizing its proprietary growing techniques to provide superior quality crops, Phytelligence enables higher grower profit by increasing speed to harvest and reducing input costs. Phytelligence provides additional value to food crop growers and plant breeders through the application of advanced genetics enabling 100 percent guaranteed delivery of accurate plants, disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property, and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops. In addition, Phytelligence has a growing pipeline of biological and compound solutions aimed at improving returns throughout the food crop value chain.


Phytelligence was founded by Dr. Amit Dhingra in 2012 out of his Horticulture Genomics and Biotechnology Research laboratory at Washington State University and is headquartered in Seattle with offices in Pullman, Washington and Portland, Oregon.





Ashley Ennis

Director of Marketing and PR for Phytelligence

(206) 300-9891





Biotechnology Company Partners with Grower to Develop New Cherry Varieties

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By David Eddy – Growing Produce

Phytelligence, a platform agricultural biotechnology company, has entered into a service agreement with TNV, LLC, a Tip Top Orchards licensed company, to aid in the development and growth of new and desirable cherry varieties.

They will be utilizing Phytelligence’s genetic analysis capabilities, its genetic repository services, and its proprietary plant multiplication and growth processes.

TNV, based in Wenatchee, WA, and Phytelligence, based in Seattle, hope to co-develop new natural cherry varieties faster than the traditional process with the Phytelligence proprietary plant multiplication process and TNV’s industry knowledge and connections. Phytelligence’s genetic analysis capabilities will also be used to file patent applications and protect TNV’s new varieties.

“Their deep understanding of plant genetics in general, and cherries in particular, coupled with their rapid propagation process makes Phytelligence an obvious choice,” said Troy Toftness, partner at TNV. “The company’s genetic technology will help us make better breeding selections when discovering, patenting, and producing novel cherry varieties. Using their propagation techniques, we’ll be able to get large quantities of the newly commercialized varieties to market faster.”

TNV is licensed by Tip Top Orchards, who discovered the ‘Tip Top’ cherry and developed the Skylar Rae brand, named for the beloved late daughter of Troy and Kim Toftness. In 2005, shortly after Skylar Rae’s passing, the family discovered a tree bearing a different looking cherry in their orchard.

The fruit it produced had unique genetics, as confirmed by Phytelligence, and was unlike anything anyone had ever tasted before. They named the variety the ‘Tip Top’ cultivar after the orchard and began selling high quality cherries under the Skylar Rae brand to honor their daughter’s name and carry on her legacy.

‘Tip Top’ trees are licensed for production to C & O Nursery in Wenatchee, and worldwide licensing rights are held by SNV, LLC. Phytelligence has pledged to donate a portion of its revenue generated through the partnership to the Skylar Rae Fund set up to help children and families. Donations have been made to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Phytelligence was created to help food crop growers, like the Toftness family, develop new varieties using our genetics skills and proprietary tissue culture techniques to produce stronger, healthier plants faster than ever before,” said Ken Hunt, Phytelligence CEO. “Our number one goal with this partnership is to collaborate with TNV and develop the best new cherries in the industry that we can then quickly get in the hands of customers.”


Tech Moves: New CEOs at Phytelligence

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By Madeline Vuong | Geekwire

Phytelligence, a Seattle-based agricultural biotechnology company has announced the hiring of Ken Hunt as CEO, Tyler Spurgeon as COO, and Tim O’Brien as CRO. The company is growing its team in an effort to aggressively scale the organization and to increase its plant engineering production.

Ken Hunt is the former CEO of agricultural biotechnology company Anawah, which sold to Arcadia BioSciences — a company that subsequently went public in May 2015. Before that, he was the executive VP at Paradigm Genetics, later acquired by Monsanto.

New COO Tyler Spurgeon was a research site leader and senior biologist at Dow AgroSciences before joining Phytelligence. He oversaw site operations of a 15-acre research facility and its greenhouses. Before that, he worked at the Exelixis Plant Sciences research greenhouse facility.

Tim O’Brien was executive vice president for a direct marketing agency called Cesari Direct, prior to joining Phytelligence. During his 9 years there, he grew billing over 400 percent. Prior to that, he was the CMO and senior expedition leader at Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.

“The decision to join Phytelligence was an easy one given the companies’ proprietary solutions to meet severely unmet needs of growers in the food crop space,” said new CEO Ken Hunt in a statement. “Our one-of-a-kind tissue culture process enables growers to access stronger plants, have full genetic control over their crops, get from initial planting to real profits in a shorter period time, and shore up the severe shortage faced by this industry. I’m excited by the pipeline of future solutions Phytelligence is developing.”

Phytelligence was founded in 2012 by Amit Dhingra, a Washington State University professor, who serves now as chief science officer for the company. Last year, Phytelligence reported a five-fold increase in plant orders. The company plans to produce over 9 million plants in the next two years, according to its website.

Ag biotech company expands to Seattle, Portland

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By: Dan Wheat – Capital Press

Phytelligence, an agricultural biotechnology company with Washington State University roots, has established its headquarters in Seattle and facilities in Seattle and Portland for advanced propagation of food crops.

The company was founded in 2012 by Amit Dhingra, associate professor of horticultural genomics and biotechnology at WSU. He developed micropropagation protocols, techniques and software to produce rootstocks, fruit trees and grapevines faster and cheaper than traditional nursery methods and ensure their correct identity through high-resolution genetic fingerprinting.

Disease screening, plant repository services, securing of intellectual property and the ability to co-develop new varieties of food crops also is provided.

The company has biological and compound solutions, including one that keeps pears from aging after they are sliced and packaged.

In 2012 and 2013, mix-ups in materials for propagation of new disease-resistant apple rootstock at Washington tree fruit nurseries led to the loss of millions of dollars, Dhingra has said. Phytelligence can prevent that by testing the DNA of each plant, he said.

The goal is not to replace Northwest fruit tree nurseries but help them become more efficient, cost effective and globally competitive, said Ashley Ennis, Phytelligence director of marketing.

C&O Nursery, Wenatchee; Van Well Nursery, East Wenatchee; Willow Drive Nursery, Ephrata; TRECO, Woodburn, Ore.; and ProTree Nursery, Brentwood, Calif., all have invested in Phytelligence. They remain supportive, Ennis said.

Dhingra is the company’s controlling partner, handles scientific developments and operates its Pullman laboratory, she said.

The company has expanded into production of pear and cherry trees, peaches, almonds, hops and blueberry, raspberry and strawberry plants, she said.

Seattle facilities provide 118,000 square feet of greenhouse and 85,000 square feet of outdoor storage to meet customer demand for 3 million to 6 million plants in each of the next two years.

More than 15,000 plantlets already arrive weekly from the company’s tissue culture laboratory in Pullman. The Seattle facility has a state-of-the-art, high humidity growth and acclimation building to transition plants from the tissue culture gel composition to the sterile greenhouse potting environment.

In Portland, Phytelligence recently moved into the 12,000-square-foot PacTrust facility adjacent to the Oregon Business Park. It includes former facilities of Dow AgroSciences and will retain most of that company’s researchers for studying production and use of plants for food, fuel, fiber and land reclamation. There is a tissue culture lab and plans to eventually grow up to 29 million plants annually.