Planasa, a company from Navarra dedicated to advanced varietal research in the agri-food sector, has launched a new research and development center in Jacona (Michoacán, Mexico) with the aim of obtaining new varieties of red fruits to supply farmers with the Latin American and US markets

The new technology center, which will have a staff of 80 highly qualified employees, becomes the fourth that the company has in the world, along with those located in Spain (Huelva), France (Aquitaine) and the USA (California). ), as well as the second by surface and activity.

With these new facilities, Planasa is committed to innovation and the development of red fruit varieties that meet the needs of farmers and that adapt to the climatic conditions of the producing areas of Mexico and the United States, two of the largest producing countries. important in the American continent, as explained by the company in a note.

This new facility, dedicated mainly to strawberry and blackberry plant genetic improvement programs (breeding) and to the development and research of strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry, has a total of 17 hectares and also has a laboratory specifically designed to guarantee the quality and healthiness of the plant material supplied to the producers, in charge of its subsequent cultivation, thus supporting the production of plants in the nursery developed by Planasa in Mexico as part of its research work, thanks to which produces more than 130 million red fruit plants per year in the Aztec country.

The main objectives of this new R&D center are, on the one hand, to increase the ability to obtain new strawberry and blackberry varieties and, on the other, to verify the potential and adaptation of these new varieties to both the market and climatic conditions. and environmental regulations, as well as finding the optimal management to give technical support to farmers so that they can obtain better yields from their crops.

Specifically, in strawberries, tests will be carried out focused on conditions of drought, salinity and rusticity (air and soil fungi). In blackberry, the objective is the development of selections without thorns, with linear production and fruit quality (without reversion and sweeter flavor). In blueberries, the aim would be to find out the adaptation and best management for the six varieties of the company’s current commercial portfolio of varieties, with special focus on three of them: Blue Madeira, Blue Maldiva and Blue Manila. And finally, in raspberry, development trials will be carried out with several advanced selections from central Spain.

Once underway, the teams from Planasa’s four R&D centers, located in Watsonville (USA), Le Barp (France), Cartaya (Spain) and Jacona (Mexico) will work on genetic improvement (breeding) focused on the needs and the specific conditions of their respective markets, also taking advantage of the synergies generated between them, in addition to sharing knowledge and the germplasm bank. Likewise, they will have the technical support of the pre-breeding team to try to shorten the times for obtaining different varieties.

Planasa’s activity focuses on the development of new varieties with the application of cutting-edge technologies, using traditional crossing techniques. In figures, the research work carried out by Planasa takes an average of between 7 and 10 years per variety obtained, which implies carrying out a number of crosses of between 10,000 and 15,000.

Once the research phase is completed, which only exceeds 2% of the varieties, the plants go to the nursery, where growth and their phytosanitary, resilience and sustainability characteristics are taken care of. After this stage, the commercialization phase is reached and they are sent to the farmers so that they carry out the final production and commercialization of the red fruits.

The opening of this new center in Jacona gives continuity to the investments that Planasa has made to date in Mexico, with the three plant production nurseries in Dolores Hidalgo (Guanajuato) and the micropropagation laboratory.

Present at the inauguration of the new facilities were the general director of Planasa in America, Iván Salazar; the Corporate Scientific Director (CSO), Manuel Rosas; Breeding Corporate Director Michael Fourneau; the municipal president of Zamora (Mexico), José Alberto Soto Delgado; the councilors of Jacona for Social Development and Rural Development, Héctor Manuel Sandoval and Rubén Alonso Villanueva, respectively, the general director of Plant Protection, Francisco Ramírez, as well as the CEO of Planasa, Michael Brinkmann, who explained that “the company wants to continue investing to increase its varietal development capacity and to consolidate its leadership position in the market, maintaining its commitment to efficiency and sustainability”.

Planasa has been operating in Mexico since 2010, where it has a total of 200 hectares of nurseries spread over several farms located in the Dolores Hidalgo area -also in the state of Michoacán-. The last one to be inaugurated was the ‘El Esfuerzo’ farm, which the company adapted in 2019 to double the production capacity of raspberry and strawberry plants. This nursery has state-of-the-art technology in all phases of the production process, to achieve savings of 60% on the total water that is normally used in agricultural production of this magnitude.

Due to its position as one of the world leaders in the production and export of red berries, Mexico is a focus of strategic growth for Planasa, as reflected in its annual R&D investment in this country, which accounts for 20% of the company’s global budget. company in this area.