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Phytelligence Secures PollyO Hazelnut Propagation License

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Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, announced it has secured a license to propagate the PollyO hazelnut variety. PollyO is the latest hazelnut variety developed by Oregon State University (OSU) and is named after Polly Owen, a longtime expert in the nut industry. Partnering with OSU and utilizing its advanced growing process, Phytelligence will provide growers with hazelnut rootstock that is native to the U.S.

The new PollyO variety provides growers with higher yields at an average of 65 pounds of nuts per tree and is resistant to Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB), a fungal pathogen that has drastically impacted hazelnut growers around the U.S. Additionally, PollyO hazelnuts blanche easily, and mature up to two weeks earlier than the Barcelona hazelnut, another popular hazelnut variety grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

“We’re eager to propagate PollyO and provide growers with hazelnut trees that are resistant to EFB and produce nuts that fit perfectly into the chocolate and baked goods industry,” said Ken Hunt, CEO of Phytelligence. “Nut growers in Oregon have been fighting EFB for more than 40 years and the demand from consumers for hazelnuts continues to climb. PollyO fits nicely into the industry portfolio of hazelnut varieties, such as Wepster and Yamhill, and it will serve as a natural alternative to the Yamhill variety.”

Developing disease-resistant hazelnut varieties has been the top priority in the agricultural biotech industry because EFB has limited the cultivation of the nut. Outside of western Oregon, the majority of hazelnuts commercially sold are grown in Turkey.

In addition to resistance to EFB, OSU’s PollyO hazelnuts crack easily and the kernels, along with its size, stay whole during processing – both are ideal attributes sought after by the chocolate industry. PollyO is compatible with other popular hazelnut varieties such as the McDonald and Wepster allowing them to serve as pollinizers for each other.

“I’m optimistic our propagation license will help increase the quality and quantity of nuts delivered to growers and consumers,” said Phytelligence Vice President of Global Sales for Nuts, Hops and New Crops Peter Viss. “Our growing process will help deliver a healthier and more durable hazelnut tree to market, as well as boost the equity of the U.S. nut industry.”

Phytelligence is now accepting PollyO orders for delivery in 2020. For more information on PollyO, or to secure order information, please email PeterViss@Phytelligence.com.

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an 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 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. The company 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 facilities in Pullman, Wash. and Portland, Ore. Learn more at www.phytelligence.com.

Contacts

PR for Phytelligence
Janae Frisch and AnnMarie Henriksson
206-282-4923 ext. 125
phytelligence@communiquepr.com

Phytelligence Welcomes New Chief Business Officer

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SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announced the hiring of its new Chief Business Officer, Glen Donald. Donald will oversee the company’s sales, marketing and business development teams to facilitate company growth and grower satisfaction.

In this new role, Donald will support and manage the marketing team to expand knowledge and continue raising visibility of the company. He will also partner with the business development leads to grow revenue, navigate new crop segments and provide the highest quality products and services that align with the needs of growers.

Glen’s experience in the industry adds immense value to Phytelligence’s leadership team,” said Ken Hunt, CEO of Phytelligence. “His diverse leadership experience with companies of varying sizes, as well as in a university spin-out, will be instrumental as we look to expand our customer base and continue to provide excellent service to our growers at every turn.”

Donald has extensive experience in the agriculture and biotech industry. Most recently, he was vice president of business development at Plant Health Care, Inc. In this role, he secured technology licensing and distribution agreements, as well as oversaw global branding, budget management and product registration for the company. Donald also served as CEO, director and chairman of Sonoplot, Inc., a technology start-up spun out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison that sells instruments for scientific research applications.

In addition, Donald spent 18 years at predecessor companies of Bayer Crop Science where he held various leadership roles including technical sales representative, product manager and vice president of marketing. Under Donald’s leadership the company successfully launched a variety of crop protection products, as well as expanded business development and improved marketing strategy.

“I am thrilled to join Phytelligence and I look forward to guiding the sales, marketing and business development teams on their path to provide superior products and services to growers,” said Donald.

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an 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 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. The company 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 facilities in Pullman, Wash. and Portland, Ore. Learn more at www.phytelligence.com.

Contacts

PR for Phytelligence
Janae Frisch and AnnMarie Henriksson
206-282-4923 ext. 125
phytelligence@communiquepr.com

Phytelligence Welcomes New Executive Vice President of Global Sales

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Todd Raasch joins Seattle-based startup as the company’s first executive vice president of global sales

Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announced its first Executive Vice President of Global Sales, Todd Raasch. Raasch will oversee the company’s strategic sales plan to facilitate company growth and grower satisfaction.

In this new role, Raasch will manage Phytelligence’s expanding sales team, advance sales strategies in each segment, lead competitor analysis and direct implementation of sales policies and practices that align with the needs of growers. Raasch’s hire marks the company’s fifth executive hire within the past year. Other recently announced positions include four global vice presidents of sales who manage the citrusgrapeberry and hops, nut and new crop segments.

Raasch brings more than 20 years of sales experience in the food and consumer packaged goods industries. Prior to joining Phytelligence, he served as the vice president of North American sales at Cooke Aquaculture’s True North Seafood. During the five years he spent as vice president, Raasch was responsible for facilitating more than $950 million in global sales, managing 20 regional sales managers and team members, as well as hiring and overseeing all broker networks. He was also responsible for “top-to-top” relationship management for more than $300 million of sales within North America food retailers including Costco, Kroger, Safeway/Albertsons, Walmart, Sysco and MGM Properties.

“After an extensive search process, we’re pleased to name our very first executive vice president of global sales. With Todd’s leadership we look forward to strengthening our sales strategy and the relationships we’ve fostered with growers,” said Ken Hunt, CEO of Phytelligence. “Todd’s experience in achieving long-term strategic sales goals will be invaluable as we continue to expand and provide growers with the highest quality food crops.”

Raasch, throughout numerous corporate acquisitions, was also a valued member of the executive leadership team at Kelley-Clarke Seafood when the company was purchased by Icicle Seafood in 2005, and again in 2016 when Icicle Seafoods was purchased by Cooke Aquaculture. From 1999 to 2013, Raasch held various key strategic roles including general manager of Kelley-Clarke Seafood, director of branded sales and senior director of North American sales for Icicle. During this time, he managed and sold resources directly and through broker networks within the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe to deliver the highest margins and ensure increased revenue.

“With Phytelligence’s growers-first approach, Todd’s expertise in building and retaining successful relationships with both internal and external customers will help scale operations. His extensive North American and international sales expertise will be instrumental in managing our growing sales pipeline around the world,” added Ken Hunt.

“I’m looking forward to building on Phytelligence’s impressive company growth,” said Raasch. “Its disruptive growing process, proprietary techniques and commitment to growers are notable, and I’m eager to work in a new and very exciting segment of the food industry.”

Phytelligence Welcomes New Global Vice President of Sales for Citrus

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Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announced its new Global Vice President of Sales for Citrus, Gerard Bogdon. Bogdon will oversee sales of citrus varieties of rootstock, spring buds and whips among Phytelligence’s existing and new customers.

Based in Florida, Bogdon will also work with Florida Foundation Seed Producers to provide growers who have been impacted by Huanglongbing disease (HLB or citrus-greening disease) with the opportunity to access true-to-type, virus and disease-free rootstock that is also tolerant to HLB.

Bogdon brings more than 17 years of experience in specialty agriculture to his new role. Mostly recently, he was group publisher of the U.S. horticulture group Meister Media Worldwide (Meister Media) where he managed sales, editorial and circulation for its publications, including American and Western Fruit Grower, American Vegetable Grower, Florida Grower, Greenhouse Grower and Greenhouse Grower Technology. During his time with Meister Media, Bogdon also held roles as the southern sales representative and associate publisher where he led the company to four consecutive years of record growth.

“We’re excited to welcome Gerry to the team and look forward to collaborating with him to strengthen relationships with citrus growers in Florida and around the world,” said Ken Hunt, CEO of Phytelligence. “The combination of Gerry’s experience in sales and agriculture, and his extensive network of contacts in the citrus industry will help further our mission to provide all growers with the highest quality food crops.”

Bogdon’s expertise in horticulture is intertwined with more than 25 years in sales and profit/loss management experience. Prior to his time at Meister Media, he was the district sales manager for R.H. Donnelley Sprint, Bell Atlantic and BellSouth where he honed his abilities to grow revenue by increasing existing accounts and prospecting new relationships.

“Gerry has deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities faced by growers in the citrus segment of the market,” said Hunt. “His expertise and understanding of growers’ needs will be instrumental in providing growers with the information and resources required to thrive in a changing market.”

“I’m eager to join Phytelligence and continue developing relationships with citrus growers in Florida and around the world,” said Bogdon. “After closely covering the agricultural industry for the past 17 years and witnessing Phytelligence’s recent disruption, I’m excited to connect and communicate with growers in a new manner and help them achieve success through integrating new tissue culture practices.”

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an 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 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. The company 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 facilities in Pullman, Wash. and Portland, Ore. Learn more at www.phytelligence.com

 

Contacts

Communiqué PR for Phytelligence
Janae Frisch and AnnMarie Henriksson, 206-282-4923 ext. 125
phytelligence@communiquepr.com

Phytelligence Welcomes New Vice President of Global Sales for Nuts, Hops and New Crops

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Agronomy expert Peter Viss joins Seattle-based startup to lead company’s nut, hops and berry sales

Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company that is revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, today announced the addition of Peter Viss to its team as vice president of global sales for nuts, hops and new crops. In this role, Viss will lead the company’s efforts to provide new and existing growers with premium planting stock in these segments.

Viss will work with Phytelligence’s customer service, accounting and marketing teams to ensure growers have access to the highest quality nut trees, hop plants and new product lines. Overseeing these segments, Viss will also work to both educate growers on the economic benefits associated with planting Phytelligence’s true-to-type, virus-free plants and to respond to growers’ need for information on best agronomic practices.

Viss has extensive industry experience driving tissue culture strategy, research and variety development with organizations such as Plant Genetics, Plant Research Laboratory, Brooding Bee and Honey Company, Dave Wilson Nursery and High Desert Ag. During this time, he facilitated the integration of new commercial planting practices with the introduction of the self-fertile “Independence” almond variety to Southern California and Arizona as salesman and in-house agronomist at Dave Wilson Nursery. Viss was also paramount in the development of tissue culture protocol for the commercial production of “Prunus” hybrid rootstock and the first genetic engineering of an apple as research director at Plant Research Laboratory.

“The combination of Peter’s sales and research experience in agronomy and tissue culture are unparalleled,” said Ken Hunt, CEO of Phytelligence. “His deep understanding of the study and development required to propagate virus-free varieties and optimize growth in the field will be instrumental to further company innovation and better support industry growers in the nut, hops and new crop segments.”

Prior to joining Phytelligence, Viss founded his own consulting firm, Viss Consulting in 1997, where he established four tissue culture laboratories and oversaw tissue culture programs developed for prunus, pistachio, juglans, garlic and a variety of annual crops. As owner of the firm, he provided extensive agronomy consulting to more than 20,000 acres of almond and pistachio growers, as well as a number of grape growers in wineries including South Coast Winery, David Bruce Winery, Tanner Vineyards Winery and Vindema Winery.

Viss is also a pioneer in worm compost and compost tea practices. He aided in introducing this strategy to California’s agricultural market – securing more than $2.5 million dollars in sales within six years – and since, has helped companies integrate organic compost practices and advanced irrigation installations.

“I look forward to continuing my career and passion for agronomy and agriculture with Phytelligence,” said Viss. “I’m excited to join the team and support the company’s commitment to innovating tissue culture and delivering high-quality crops to growers in all segments.”

Phytelligence Welcomes New Executive Vice President of Marketing

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Phytelligence, a leading agricultural biotechnology company revolutionizing the way food crops are grown, has appointed Bill McClain as executive vice president of marketing. In this role, McClain will drive marketing strategy to expand Phytelligence’s work with growers of food crops globally.

McClain has played a vital leadership role in brand management at global companies including Clarisonic, acquired by L’Oréal in 2011, and Sonicare, acquired by Philips in 2000. He also helped launch products from such companies as Johnson & Johnson and Oral-B.

“Bill is a proven marketing leader and we welcome his strategic expertise to further develop our brand position in the agricultural space,” said Ken Hunt CEO of Phytelligence. “His passion, experience, and insights enhance these capabilities, and we’re excited to have him on the team.”

Over the past 10 years, McClain has developed a series of successful partnerships and strategic marketing initiatives. During his time at Philips, he introduced the marketing strategy and led the multi-country marketing team that doubled the number of European Sonicare sales in just two years.

McClain is also a trusted instructor. For the past five years he has taught certificate courses to international marketing professionals at the University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education College, and Experience America’s Business Culture Understanding & Marketing program.

“I’m excited to be part of such an innovative company that’s making a real difference,” said McClain. “In partnership with growers, Phytelligence brings more high-nutrition food to market faster and more sustainably. I look forward to building on the brand’s success with new international marketing initiatives.”

About Phytelligence

Phytelligence is an 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 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. The company 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, Wash. and Portland, Ore. Learn more at www.phytelligence.com.

Media Contacts

PR for Phytelligence
Janae Frisch and AnnMarie Henriksson

206-282-4923 ext. 125

phytelligence@communiquepr.com

Customers are willing to pay a premium only on high quality, fresh sliced pears

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Customers are willing to pay a premium only on high quality, fresh sliced pears

Recently, a willingness-to-pay study has shown that consumers are willing to pay up to 20 cents more for high-quality, sliced, fresh packed pears treated with a ripening compound compared to sliced fresh packed pears with no treatment.

The study shows the promise of the slicing segment to the pear industry: Utilization of small-sized pears, and the proposed premium they could bring, has the potential to add up to $100 million to the financial bottom line of the pear industry in the next five years.

The problem with pear consumption

The North American fresh pear industry has cited increasing per capita consumption as its top priority year after year. However, customer habits, biology of the fruit and perhaps the current fruit packing and sale infrastructure stand in the way.

Pears are unique in that they are harvested mature but unripe, and the fruit is then conditioned to ripen. Conditioning is a process in which pears are exposed to cold temperature (less than 1 degree Celsius) for a pre-determined length of time, which is cultivar-specific (Sugar & Basile, 2013). To deter losses during handling, shippers and retailers tend to sell pears without conditioning, resulting in less than desirable fruit and diminishing repeat purchase by consumers.

Pre-ripened or conditioned pears, on the other hand, attract repeat customers, and it is evident in their increased willingness to pay for a consistent quality fruit (Zhang et. al, 2010; Gallardo, 2011; Gallardo et al., 2011).

The early 2000s brought a timely gift for the apple industry in the form of 1-methycyclopropene (1-MCP) or SmartFresh, just as consumers were getting disenchanted with the quality of the fruit on the shelf. 1-MCP binds to the ethylene receptors and makes the fruit insensitive to ethylene, prolonging its storage and improving the shelf life and quality of the fruit.

Not to be left behind, the pear industry, which has not seen any major leaps in consumption over the last several decades, tried using 1-MCP in the hopes of delivering a perfect piece of fruit to the consumer. 1-MCP worked in blocking ripening in pears. In fact, it worked too well. Pears treated with 1-MCP failed to ripen consistently after they were removed from the controlled atmosphere (Argenta et al., 2016; Wang et al., 2015; Chiriboga et al., 2013; Watkins, 2006). No amount of conditioning or exogenous ethylene could rectify the situation.

The quest for a perfect slice of pear

The difficulties of mass producing perfect fresh sliced pears were best summarized by Tony Freytag, chief executive officer of Crunch Pak, a Cashmere, Washington-based operation that controls over 50 percent of the nearly $500 million fresh sliced apple market, during a presentation at the 2013 Washington State Horticultural Association annual conference (Warner, 2013). A juicy, melting pear at 6- to 8-pound firmness range is good for eating but will turn to mush when sliced.

Pear fruit with slightly higher firmness of 8- to 10-pounds has good flavor but bruises heavily when sliced, and fruit with 12- to 14-pound firmness, while great for slicing, has no flavor and dries out quickly. The sweet spot may be at the 10- to 12-pound range, but achieving a 21-day shelf life like apples would not be feasible (Freytag 2013). Anyone who deals with pears knows that it is easy to sort the fruit by size but not by firmness. It seems like an insurmountable issue.

Closer to reality

A technology patented by Washington State University (Dhingra and Hendrickson, 2017) shows increasing potential for the predictable and consistent ripening of the pear fruit treated with 1-MCP. As a first application, we evaluated if we could ripen a 1-MCP treated pear after slicing.

The preliminary results were very encouraging with the 1-MCP treated fruit: slicing and then treating the fruit with the ripening compound resulted in ethylene production at five times that of the 1-MCP treated fruit control. With this result, we partnered with Crunch Pak, and supported by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and USA Pears, we produced and evaluated fresh sliced pears. The shelf life was more than 21 days; however, the ripening compound treatment resulted in the production of sugars and typical pear aroma within three days of packaging.

The willingness-to-pay study that followed, conducted at the Portland Food Innovation Center, showed that it is critical to focus on quality.

Proof is in the slice, so to speak

For any commodity, the real proof that a product has any value is when a customer is willing to put their money where their mouth is. Analysis of the responses obtained from 120 participants in the study revealed that people who liked sliced pears were willing to pay up to 20 cents more per 2-ounce packet for pears treated with the ripening component over untreated pears (Ikiz et al – in review).

Overall, that is about 46 percent more than the retail prices for a 2-ounce bag of sliced apples. The consumer sample who participated in the study demanded healthful and convenient products. Fresh sliced pears have the potential to provide all these advantages and enable a vertical jump in consumption.

The analysis revealed that fresh sliced pears were liked by consumers who prefer locally grown products, buy at conventional grocery stores and consider as important labels indicating certified organic, healthfulness, sustainable agriculture, food safety, non-GMO and eco-labels. In general consumers in our sample who liked fresh packed sliced pears consumed Anjou, Bartlett and Asian pears more frequently compared to the consumers who disliked fresh packed sliced pears. If this study is any indication, any compromise on quality can deal a further death blow for pear consumption.

The key is quality

Time and again, the ability to deliver consistent superior quality triumphs in the market place. Placing a bad product on the shelf has its perils, especially as a younger generation demands convenience and consistent quality. Another misstep can be a slippery slope for the pear industry in particular; the industry has not seen a major upswing in consumer purchases due to lack of novel offerings and competition from other fruit, such as berries and fruit-derived products, for several decades.

Based on preliminary calculations derived from personal communications with some pear industry members, it has been estimated that the value of a single pear fruit at 14 cents increases to $1.14 when sliced. The fresh sliced apple industry is currently valued at about $500 million with exponential increase in demand over the next decade. The projections predict that a high-quality fresh sliced pear market could become a $100 million market in the next five years.

An opportunity to add millions of dollars to the pear industry’s financial bottom line beckons. •

– by Amit Dhingra and Karina Gallardo

The $363,000 study by Amit Dhingra and Karina Gallardo received funding from the Washington State Department of Agriculture and USA Pears, a federal marketing board. Amit Dhingra, Ph.D., is an associate professor of genomics and biotechnology in Washington State University’s Department of Horticulture in Pullman, Washington. Karina Gallardo, Ph.D., is an associate professor and Extension economist at WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center.

References

Sugar, D., and Basile, S. R. (2013). Integrated ethylene and temperature conditioning for induction of ripening capacity in ‘Anjou’ and ‘Comice’ pears. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 83, 9-16. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.postharvbio.2013.03.010
Zhang, H., Gallardo, R. K., McCluskey, J. J., & Kupferman, E. M. (2010). Consumers’ willingness to pay for treatment-induced quality attributes in Anjou pears. Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 35, 105–117.
Gallardo, R. K. (2011). Choice experiments’ findings: A tool for fruit agribusiness managers decision making. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 14, 95–110.
Gallardo, R. K., Kupferman, E., Colonna, A. (2011). Willingness-to-pay for optimal Anjou pear quality. HortScience, 46, 452–456.
Argenta, L.C., Mattheis, J.P., Fan, X., Amarante, CVT. Managing ‘Bartlett’ pear fruit ripening with 1-methylcyclopropene reapplication during cold storage. Postharvest Biology and Technology 2016, 113:125-130.
Wang, Y., Sugar, D. 1-MCP efficacy in extending storage life of ‘Bartlett’ pears is affected by harvest maturity, production elevation, and holding temperature during treatment delay. Postharvest Biology and Technology 2015, 103:1-8.
Chiriboga, M-A., Saladie, M., Gine Bordonaba, J., Recasens, I., Garcia-Mas, J., Larrigaudiere, C.. Effect of cold storage and 1-MCP treatment on ethylene perception, signalling and synthesis: Influence on the development of the evergreen behaviour in ‘Conference’ pears. Postharvest Biology and Technology 2013, 86:212-220.
Watkins C.B. The use of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) on fruits and vegetables. Biotechnol Adv 2006, 24:389-409.
Warner, G. Pear slicing is not perfected yet. In Good Fruit Grower. Edited by. Wenatchee, WA: Washington State Fruit Commission; 2014:16. vol 65.
Dhingra, A., Hendrickson C. Control of ripening and senescence in pre-harvest and post-harvest plants and plant materials by manipulating alternative oxidase activity. US Patent 2017, 9,591,847.
Ikiz, D., Gallardo, K., Hewitt, S., Dhingra, A. Assessing Consumers’ Preferences and Willingness to Pay For Novel Sliced Packed Fresh Pears: A Latent Class Approach. 2017 – In review.

UPDATE: Phytelligence Raises $11.95m Towards $16m Series B

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UPDATE: Phytelligence Raises $11.95m Towards $16m Series B

**UPDATE: Added additional Avrio Capital investment of $5 million.**

Agricultural biotechnology and micropropagation company Phytelligence has raised $11.95 million of a potential $16 million Series B. The company announced an initial close of $6.95 million in early July and increased that by $5 million when Avrio Capital committed in late August. The company still expects to reach $16 million total according to an email from Phytelligence, closing in early September.

This round was led by Cowles Company, a family-owned investor out of Spokane, WA with investments in media, clean tech, and some agriculture, among other areas. Also participating in the round was WRF Capital, the investing arm of the Washington Research Foundation.

“The decision to invest in Phytelligence was an easy one to make once we saw the tremendous gap between the current nursery capabilities and the needs of the modern grower,” said Steve Rector, CFO of Cowles Company.

Phytelligence’s patented and trademarked MULTIPHY process enables apples, cherries, peaches, pears, grapes, hops, berries and nuts to grow five times faster with fewer inputs using a non-soil, nutrient-dense growing medium. This speeds up the process for growers to get new, designer fruit varieties like Honeycrisp apples and cotton candy grapes to market as well as alleviating age-old industry bottlenecks. Growers traditionally had to wait just to be able to obtain rootstock for new crops.

Now, Phytelligence provides genetically-verified and virus-free trees and rootstock to farmers in a sector long-plagued by a lack of transparency. CEO Ken Hunt says that in the past, 10% of apple trees sold were mislabeled as to their type.

Phytelligence technology spun out out of Washington State University as founder and CSO Professor Amit Dhingra was woking with local Washington farmers to develop new apple varieties using micropropagation. He founded Phytelligence when the demand from farmers became too great to meet in an academic setting. Now the company offers tissue culture and genetic testing for trees already in the field, as well as selling rootstock and plants.

Phytelligence will use the new funds to further expand its propagation capacity including taking on more greenhouse space.

“We’re also spending a tremendous amount of time and money to constantly improve the process — looking at robotics; looking at the ability to do grafting in a tissue culture lab with a younger plant to speed the process,” said CEO Ken Hunt, who joined the company in 2016.

In addition to being the only genetically-verified rootstock provider, Phytelligence is also always looking for the next great apple variety, but Hunt says despite Phytelligence’s quick pace for a tree-grower, these things cannot be rushed.

“Nature is only so fast. I feel like we’ve got the tools and the ability to make very good breeding selections that will make the discovery of the next Honeycrisp really fast. You just gotta sit there and wait for the plants to grow.” Even after a winning variety is discovered, much more breeding and cultivation is required to reach critical mass to bring the new variety to market. Hunt says that the fastest possible timeline for a new apple variety is seven to 10 years.

Since founding in 2012, the company has grown to around 70 employees with greenhouse space in Washington and a tissue culture lab in Oregon. Dhingra also still runs an R&D lab at Washington State University and Phytelligence has right of first refusal to any new tech developed there.

Uniquely, much of the company’s previous funding came from the industry including various farming groups along with four leading nurseries.

“When I started the company, I was grateful that the industry was the first to come to the table with financial support,” Dhingra told AgFunderNews in 2016. “Phytelligence came from the industry as growers defined what their problems were and through their support and guidance we were able not only to develop solutions for them but to test them and improve on them. In many ways, this is the true definition of a democratic process: from the industry, by the industry and for the industry!”

Phytelligence has raised $12.6 million total to date.

Phytelligence Welcomes Director Of Global Sales, Berries And Nuts; Adds Matt Shanks To Growing Team

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SEATTLEJan. 12, 2017PRLog — Phytelligence, the leader in agricultural technology revolutionizing food crops, has announced the addition of Matt Shanks as Director of Global Sales and Business Development to the growing company roster. Shanks comes to Phytelligence from Oro Agri where he was the Pacific Northwest Area Manager and honed his experience by working one-on-one with some of the largest growers and distributors in the industry.  Prior to that, he owned his own agricultural business for 17 years that extended into Mexico, Chile and China.

As Director of Global Sales, Shanks will help Phytelligence expand their clean, true-to-type plant materials to the rapidly growing berry and nut markets both locally and internationally. Shanks’ background in sales within the agriculture industry, and specifically within the berry industry, is a great match for the growing Phytelligence.

“I joined Phytelligence because I’ve worked with growers my entire career and I’ve seen first hand the issues they have obtaining quality plant material,” said Shanks. “The nursery industry has been notoriously stagnant and I believe Phytelligence is doing the growers a great service by using technology to provide stronger plants, on a quicker timeline. I’m looking forward to bringing Phytelligence plants to berry and nut growers around the globe.”

Phytelligence is based in Seattle, Washington with a research and development lab in Pullman, Washington and a tissue culture lab in Portland, Oregon. Over the last year, Phytelligence has grown their workforce to over 50 full-time employees and expanded their footprint to accommodate over 20 million plants in tissue culture at their Portland location. With their official expansion into the berry and nut markets, Phytelligence will provide clean, true-to-type plant materials across a wide range of varieties including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, hazelnuts and almonds.

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 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.  In 2016, Phytelligence expanded their footprint including securing an 8-acre Seattle-based greenhouse space and a Portland-based tissue culture lab. Currently, Phytelligence has 50 employees with immediate plans to continue hiring in the near future.

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 timobrien@phytelligence.com 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.

 

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Contact:

Ashley Ennis

Director of Marketing and PR for Phytelligence

ashleyennis@phytelligence.com

(206) 300-9891