They have a collective 100+ years of experience in the strawberry industry and are committed to providing strawberry growers with the quality strawberries they want and need. The significant amount of experience within the CBC team is well-suited to conduct strawberry research in order to further the knowledge base required by the strawberry industry to protect and promote a quality, high-yielding, consumer-desirable product under the ever changing conditions of the field and market place.
Dr. Doug Shaw and Dr. Kirk Larson assembled the CBC team after retiring from their successful careers at the University of California. Shaw worked at the university for almost 30 years. He started his career in forestry after earning a PhD in genetics from the University of California, Davis in 1981. Returning to Davis in 1986, this time as a professor, he switched his focus to strawberries. Larson joined the program in 1991 after completing his PhD in plant physiology at the University of Florida.
Together they developed a breeding and genetic analysis system that resulted in some of the most successful varieties in the California strawberry industry. They’ve carried their extensive knowledge into California Berry Cultivars, joined by both the team members that they relied on at the university and new faces that they believe will carry on the program.
Selected to lead the new program by Dr. Doug Shaw and Dr. Kirk Larson, Dr. Kyle VandenLangenberg is the head breeder at California Berry Cultivars. He has a PhD in horticulture and an extensive background working in plant breeding, genetics, and statistics. Originally drawn to strawberries because of the genetic challenges, he has become increasingly interested in the challenges of breeding for the evolving horticultural demands of the strawberry industry.
A key piece to our breeding program is our high quality nursery headed by Nursery Manager and Safety Coordinator Emily Heenan. She is joined by Assistant Farm Manager Aric Champagne. Aric joined the team in 2018 with several years of experience in horticultural research. Together they have built a first-class research nursery which supplies the rest of our program with high quality test plants.
Our Watsonville team has been working together for more than 15 years to test cultivars in commercial conditions, research the difference made by altering growing conditions, and develop cultivars with strong disease resistance. Research Farm Supervisor Don Yoshimura grew up in the agriculture business and met Dr. Shaw and Dr. Larson while he was a student at UC Davis. He’s been overseeing the Watsonville site on their behalf since 2000, along with technician Margarita Corona and foreman Roberto Alanis.
Research Associate Todd Etchandy has worked with Dr. Kirk Larson since 2005. Todd grew up in the strawberry industry and has worked extensively in the Southern California community as a grower, a research farm manager, a consultant, and a representative on the California Strawberry Commission (1994-2012). In 2018 he was joined by Blake Bowman. Blake is new to the industry but learning quickly and together they produce high quality research that will benefit the entire Southern California growing community.
California Berry Cultivars has a very small administration department. Office Manager Sandy Shaw came to us after working as the communications coordinator for a Eurosemillas extension research farm.