Limagrain, founded in France in 1942 as a co-op, is the largest seed company in the European Union and the biggest cereal seed producer in the world, deciding to establish a U.S. headquarters in Fort Collins in recent years.
"What the agreement does is greatly broaden our genetic base," says Brown. "Benefits are tremendous."
While new to UI's wheat breeding program, Brown has been on the job at the university for 20 years, gaining a reputation for his development of IdaGold mustard, used by the nation's largest mustard makers.
Based in Moscow, Idaho, he has been involved in oilseed breeding of canola and rapeseed as well, and will continue his oilseed duties.
But he is no novice in grains, having focused on barley in the past.
"We are fortunate to have a successful plant breeder on staff that has the diverse experience working with crops and growers," says John Foltz, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences interim dean.
The need for the move is clear to Brown, who explains that it takes up to a decade to develop a new wheat. "If we have a gap of several years with no northern Idaho breeder, that delays the ability of growers to adapt to changing market demands and capitalize on new discoveries," he says.
Part of what he and UI brings to the Limagrain program, he notes, is the university's extensive end-use studies matching new varieties to those changing market needs.