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Did You Know: Beacon Impatiens Reduces the Use of Chemicals

About 15 years ago, a new and aggressive downy mildew came up and spread quickly over the whole globe reducing the sales of garden Impatiens – a popular garden plant. PanAmerican Seed has been the world leader in Impatiens walleriana with our well-known Super Elfin series and started to look for a solution immediately.

Field photo (left) Beacon Impatiens, (right) standard impatiens completely defoliated by downy mildew.

After a few unsuccessful attempts, a source of resistance was found and the breeding was started to introduce this resistance into our germplasm pool. A dedicated team of experts from Ball Horticultural Co. collaborated to do this as fast as possible, and they succeeded with the introduction of Beacon Impatiens in 2019.

Since then, Beacon Impatiens has become the industry’s choice of Impatiens and therefore, contributes to a significant lower usage of fungicides by the growers. Another huge advantage for PanAmerican Seed is the reduced need for fungicides during seed production, resulting in better quality and more reliable yields.

Ruud Brinkkemper shows off the Medal of Excellence Award for Beacon Impatiens.

Today, the breeding continues bringing a few extra popular colours to complete the Beacon series, so Super Elfin can soon be retired from our assortment. The same resistance has been bred into the double impatiens by Simone Crain in Elburn, Illinois, and has recently been introduced to the market by Ball FloraPlant as Glimmer Double Impatiens.

For the breeding, we have and still are working with pathology and molecular support from our Helix colleagues. We have learned a lot from this project that we will benefit from in other resistance breeding projects making the future of growing ornamentals with fewer chemicals possible.

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