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Sakata Seeds America announces new director of R&D

July 5, 2022  By Fruit & Vegetable

Sakata Seed America, Inc. has appointed William (Bill) McCarthy as director of research and development (R&D) upon the retirement of Jeff Zischke. Zischke has been a mainstay at Sakata, filling various roles in his 32 years, including tomato breeder, global product manager and senior director of R&D.

McCarthy will assume responsibility for all of Sakata Seed America’s vegetables research and development activity at the company’s R&D stations in Burlington, Wash., Woodland and Salinas, Calif., Ft. Myers, Fla., and Culiacan, Mexico.

“Bill brings deep knowledge and a history of many successful product introductions to the industry,” said Dave Armstrong, president and CEO of Sakata Seed America. “We know Bill will build on our current success in developing a broad portfolio of competitive vegetable crops.”


“I actually started my career at Sakata,” McCarthy said. “It feels like coming home. Since rejoining Sakata in October 2020, I have been regularly impressed by the passion and devotion to develop market leading varieties that will have a positive impact on society and the environment.  Thanks to Jeff Zischke’s great leadership, I’m taking over a strong program with a motivated team of breeders, scientists and horticulturalists.”

McCarthy has held key positions at major companies leading global hot and sweet pepper R&D programs, creating over 45 commercial pepper hybrids for open field and protected culture in the U.S., Brazil, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Australia and Venezuela. Bill received his PhD in horticulture and plant genetics from North Carolina State University. He will be based at Sakata’s Woodland Innovation Center in California, reporting to Armstrong.

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