May 15, 2023

WGCIT Sponsor: How Bayer Sets the Pace of Innovation

“Fruit and vegetable growers need every tool in the toolbox because production is so challenging.” — Dr. Frank Wong, U.S. Industry Affairs Lead at Bayer.

The only thing better than having a powerful ally is having an ally that is also dedicated, motivated and smart. Bayer is that ally for the specialty crop industry and Western Growers. Bayer has supported the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology since its inception and has maintained the highest level of sponsorship with Western Growers for almost 30 years.

Bayer aims to provide solutions for farmers to plant, grow and protect their harvests using less land, water and energy. For Western Growers, Bayer brings a strong portfolio of tools for growers with both vegetable seeds and crop protection. Jenny Maloney, the Strategic Account Manager at Bayer Vegetable Seeds for North and South America, and Dr. Frank Wong, U.S. Industry Affairs Lead for Bayer Crop Protection, are key partners who tag-team with Western Growers to cover key issues.

“We support innovation in the industry,” said Jenny Maloney. “There are startups that are coming in and partnerships that have happened. There are all sorts of ways that we can get to where we want to go with innovation and technology, so we have been a huge proponent of that.”

Whether it’s through the work and support of WGCIT or its portfolio offerings and industry advocacy, Bayer’s influence and work is a strike point of impact for reverberating change. With strategy and ingenuity, the minds at Bayer are always working to plot the trajectory of genetics, biologicals and agtech to meet the future of the specialty produce industry with precision and accuracy in a way that will result in increased yields of nutrient-rich products.

Bayer considers the scope of the growing process from seed genetics, crop care and harvest. One of the products in its portfolio exemplifies this: the High Rise™ broccoli series.

“The High Rise™ portfolio includes two varieties—Eiffel and Hancock. The varieties grow tall and feature strong, clean stems with few large leaves and visible crowns that are firm and heavy. The uniform maturity, high yield potential and consistent product quality can help growers achieve efficient harvests through less harvest passes. In addition, varieties in the High Rise™ broccoli series are well-suited for time-saving machine harvesting, an ever-increasing request from growers.” (

The unique morphology of the High Rise™ broccoli stem is a manifestation of the forward thinking of the minds at Bayer. The harvesting technology may not be ready to roll out and collect it, but the broccoli was genetically ‘engineered’—engineered through classic genetic work where traits were emphasized and bred for over years of careful seed cycles and grower feedback—to be ready for the day. In the meantime, the unique shape of the broccoli makes it easier for crews to harvest by hand.

Biological solutions are also in Bayer’s portfolio and continue to be a point of focus. “It is really, really difficult to develop biologicals,” Frank Wong said. “It’s not so linear compared to traditional small molecules and harder to find the gems in the rough. We are looking at ways to maximize discovery, application and effectiveness. For sure, there is a definite need for tools for West Coast growers, especially in California, to have something to control pests and to ensure that you have something sellable that comes out of the field. I fully support the positions and initiatives that Western Growers has taken to look for innovation in the biological space. That’s a big reason we’re supporting the conference [Salinas Biological Summit] that’s coming up in June.”

There’s no way to know what the future will bring, especially in the world of agriculture in the West, but the great minds at Bayer are working to ensure positive and productive outcomes, all while keeping close to the people who make it all work: the growers.