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Bowery and Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station to develop disease-resistant spinach

Bowery Farming, the national vertical farming giant, has a new agreement with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture to support research for developing spinach varieties that are bred for high-quality indoor production and to thrive in Bowery’s proprietary growing system.

Scientists with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture, are conducting the research in partnership with scientists at Bowery’s research and development facilities. Bowery Farming states it is the largest vertical farming company in the United States in terms of retail footprint.

Newton Kalengamaliro, Senior agricultural scientist with Bowery Farming Inc., and Haizheng Xiong, Ph.D., program associate with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station

Bowery Farming sells pesticide-free leafy greens and herbs at more than 1,100 U.S. grocery stores and major e-commerce platforms, including Walmart and Whole Foods Market. This year, the New York City-based company launched two varieties of strawberries, offered in their Strawberry Discovery Duopack. Bowery Farming is also expanding its geographic reach across the U.S. with a new indoor “smart farm” in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with robotics, artificial intelligence, and other technology to manage the farm systems.

Bowery Farming will soon launch farms in the Atlanta and Dallas metro areas
“The agreement between Bowery Farming and the Division of Agriculture highlights our dedication to improving modern agriculture using advanced breeding technologies,” said Jean-François Meullenet, senior associate vice president for agriculture research and director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. “Collaborations like this exemplify the kind of public-private research partnerships the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station has conducted for decades as part of our land-grant mission.”

The renewable agreement with Bowery Farming supports the evaluation of high-yield breeding lines and studies that identify genetic markers in spinach for resistance to waterborne pathogens, such as Pythium, as well as other beneficial traits for growing spinach indoors.

Pythium is a fungus-like pathogen that can cause rot and damping-off, destructive diseases in both field and hydroponics production. “In Arkansas, we are very good with our spinach program, going over 50 years now,” said Ainong Shi, associate professor and vegetable breeder for the department of horticulture. Shi said the Division of Agriculture’s long history and expertise in spinach breeding led to initial contact with Bowery Farming in 2020.

Read the entire article at Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

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