University of Florida

The University of Florida Plant Breeders Workgroup

     During the period of rapid growth in numbers of students and faculty at the University of Florida (ca. 1960 to 1985) several additional plant breeding programs were initiated or existing programs were expanded.  Suport for such programs came primarily from state budgest and limited federal project funding.  Dramatic prog4ress was made in adapting plants to the Florida environment and in improving yield and pest resistance of important crops.  Beginning in the late 1980s, competition for limited support dollars and retirements of many post-WWII faculty resulted in reductions in numbers and scope of some breeding programs.
     The UF/IFAS Plant Breeders Workshop organized and began meeting annually in August 1993 with the goal of coordinating statewide plant breeding efforts.  Membership is open to all active and emeritus UF/IFAS Plant breeders.  Initial efforts focused on two area, recruitment and training of graduate students, and efforts to increase base support of breeding programs.  One of the early accomplishments of the Workgroup was development and implementation in 1995 of a uniform UF/IFAS policy for release of new cultivars under appropriate intellectual property protection agreements.  This policy was developed with the intention of providing incentive for new cultivar development by maximizing cultivar royalty returns to individual breeding programs.  Figure 1 shows the increase in number of cultivars released by UF/IFAS by decade and Figure 2 shows the yearly releases for the 16-yr period 2001 to 2016.  Major increases in cultivar development occurred in the decards of the 1980s, 90s and an even more dramatic increase in the first decard of the 2000s.  The trend of increasing releases continues with 197 cultivars released in the seven-year period 2010 to 2016.  Figure 3 shows the growth in cultivar royalties and funds generated by plant licensing intellectual property contracts since 30-yr period 1987 to 2016.  Royalty collections for the period 1978 to 1984 averaged approximately $75,000 per year (data not shown).  For the period 1985 to 2000 royalties average approximately $250,000 annual, with noticeable increases to over $500,000 in 1998 to 2000.  From 2001 to 216 with full implementation of the UF/IFAS cultivar release incentive policy, total royalty collections have grown from just over $600,000 to over 12.5 million in 2016, indicating the success of recently developed UF/IFAS cultivars.  A linear regression analysis of this growth shows an average increase in royalties of about $1,000,000 per year over the ten  year period 2007 to 2016 (Figure 4).