Ph.D. – Horticulture/Genetics, North Carolina State University
M.S. – Horticultural Science, Virginia Tech
B.S. – Horticulture, The Pennsylvania State University
Years of Service at Sakata: 1998 to Present
Currently Breeding: Tomato
David, why did you decide to become a vegetable breeder?
I had a passion for plants from a young age, having collected and cultivated everything from cacti and succulents to carnivorous plants. In college I had a professor who was a flower breeder which sparked my interest in plant breeding. His passion for his specialty that combined multiple scientific disciplines (genetics, horticulture, pathology, statistics) along with creativity (visual selections, designing new hybrid varieties) really captured me. I love the union of plants, science, and creativity that plant breeding involves. I spent time in academia pursuing the science of plant breeding, but really found my home after coming to Sakata, where I can focus on creating new vegetable varieties that will benefit both growers and consumers.
What inspires you, and what’s the best part of your job?
What inspires me and what I enjoy most of in my job is participating in the complete development and creation of a new variety. This begins by designing and evaluating multiple populations and is followed by multiple years of parent selection and development in the field. Finally, the process ends with the final stages of hybrid design and evaluation of the final product. Years of sweat and mental energy go into the creation of a hybrid, and less than 1% of your creations will make it to a commercial variety. The journey to create and discover those rare ‘diamonds’ inspires me and drives me to continue the process each season, which always brings new challenges and opportunities.
Recently we celebrated our Centennial Anniversary – do you have anything special you’d like to say about Sakata?
Sakata represents to me the best of agribusiness. For 100 years it has been a company with clear focus to pursue its core purpose-providing superior flower and vegetable varieties to its customers. It has done this through hard work and commitment to people, both its employees and customers. I appreciate being involved with a proven, successful global leader in seed that still maintains the culture and atmosphere of a family.
Briefly, can you tell us something that not everyone knows about you!
I consider myself an amateur audiophile and enjoy listening to diverse music, attending live concerts, and collecting excellent headphones. I also do audio mixing and enjoy learning about the benefits of sound and music for optimal health.
David Wolff was also an assistant professor in Vegetable Breeding at Texas A&M University.