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Grand opening of Dow AgroSciences Nairn Research Facility heralds substantial investment in wheat research

July 26, 2012, Nairn, ON – The only private cereal research and breeding program in Eastern Canada celebrated the grand opening of its Dow AgroSciences Nairn Research Facility on July 26, 2012. Dow AgroSciences is committed to investing in research to serve the needs of the growers, millers, food companies and ultimately consumers. The majority of the finished wheat and other cereal varieties developed by the Nairn station are marketed by Hyland Seeds.

The new facility combines state-of-the-art breeding techniques such as di-haploids, disease nurseries and shuttle breeding, where germpmlasm is shuttled between a winter nursery in Chile, Nairn and two other Dow AgroSciences research facilities in Washington State and Australia.

“The techniques used in this at this research centre provide customers with new, high-yielding, high-quality varieties in an accelerated time frame specifically adapted to target environments,” says Henry Olechowski, who is the site leader at the Nairn centre and oversaw the construction of the new 10,000-square-foot facility.

The main breeding goal is to develop Dow AgroSciences wheat varieties that are superior in yield, standability and have natural genetic tolerance to disease, specifically Fusarium head blight, the most economically important cereal disease. Nairn is one of three disease nurseries located across Ontario.

The research and development team also leverages germplasm and technology (gene markers to assist in identifying the best plants in fewer generations, etc.) from Dow AgroSciences global wheat research efforts.

At the time of purchase of the new Nairn site in May 2011, Dow AgroSciences was committed to keeping the current research talent to capitalize on the historical intelligence built up over 20 years. “We could have put this new facility anywhere in the world, but we stayed in Middlesex County because of the expertise of the people working here,” he says. “You just can’t replace the knowledge of the people who have been doing this for more than 20 years.”

The facility also employs six to eight college students each summer with the hope of enticing them into agriculture. The National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) partially funds the local student employment. Currently, the research centre has six fulltime employees supported by a compliment of summer and contract workers.

To add to the celebration, Dow AgroSciences also presented North Middlesex Mayor Don Shipway a $10,000 donation to be divided between the Nairn Optimist Park and the East Williams Memorial Public School. The funds will assist the local Optimist Club with improvements to the soccer facilities and the school with the purchase and installation of a state-of-the-art Smart Board.