Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's 1997 Lettuce Breeding Program
For more than 10 years, Dr. Sylvie Jenni of the Horticulture Research and Development Centre (HRDC) of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu focused on lettuce resistance to physiological disorders through the genetic improvement program, in collaboration with a group of Quebec producers. Three new varieties of crisphead lettuce were created: AAC Champlain, Hochelaga and Estival.
Creation of the Foundation in 2006
All the producers who participated in the research gathered together and created the Lettuce Foundation - for the genetic improvement of lettuce and leafy vegetables - a non-profit organization. AAFC committed to pay royalties from the sale of new seeds in exchange for their commitment to invest the funds in the lettuce breeding program. AAFC granted the right to market these varieties to La Coop Uniforce, which has since become La Coop Unifrontières. Their collaboration proved fruitful and several projects ensued.
Industry-led research since 2013
In 2012, AAFC announced the completion of its research program on genetic improvement of lettuce. In 2013, the Lettuce Foundation went into solution mode. It recruited Dr. Djamila Rekika as a scientific project manager and introduced a new research project for head lettuce and romaine under the AgriInnovation Program. New members were added as well as financial partners. Agreements were signed with new partners and collaborators, while maintaining close ties with the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu CRDH and its researchers.
In summary, the Foundation coordinates farm trials on AAFC's lettuce lines in Canada and internationally (USA, Europe and others). It manages the marketing of new varieties of lettuce, including licensing and sub-licensing options, as well as the sale of these varieties to Canadian and international producers. It ensures that the material is virus-free, in addition to maintaining the fresh seed stock of AAFC varieties and new varieties developed.