Dick van Kleinwee - happy when his plants are happy!
Ask Syngenta's Dick van Kleinwee why he became a plant breeder and he will tell you he loves the feeling of energy he gets from working with plants.
He first noticed it as a youngster when he grew vegetables. "When the plants were happy, I was happy", he says. The feeling was reinforced by his studies at university.
Worthwhile new plants
He became a plant breeder in 1992 and has been with Syngenta since 2003. He does not single out any one aspect of his work he enjoys most, but delights in the whole plant breeding process from planning through to the realisation of a goal. "I enjoy creating worthwhile new plants and am interested in the techniques this involves", remarks Dick.
Dealing with 'disappointments'
While his recent successes include Petunia Sanguna Twirls, and many more, for every two or three successes he may achieve he will experience 20,000 'disappointments', or seedlings which do not meet his objectives every year. He believes it is important for a breeder to be able to discard and that the selection process should focus on increasing the chances of finding a winner.
Talking with growers
So how did he develop Twirls? Luck played a part, he says modestly, but it also calls for an innate ability to spot worthwhile new seedlings. But he is well aware that potential new products must meet the needs of growers and consumers. He therefore enjoys visiting growers and welcomes visits from them, so both may learn from each other. "My aim is to produce the very best plants in our core product ranges", concludes Dick.