Watermelon Breeder


Fort Myers, FL



JOB SUMMARY: Responsible for developing, implementing, and coordinating research and development activities for North America watermelon segments. Direction of watermelon program is determined and implemented by the plant breeder, WM product manager and research manager. Basic purpose is to develop or encourage the development of state-of-the-art proprietary watermelon products for Sakata Seed America.


  • Develop, maintain, and improve watermelon hybrid varieties for North American markets.
  • Manage and analyze the breeding program in Phenome, Sakata’s chosen breeding data management application.
  • Coordinate and place trials in major market areas and travel to these areas for evaluation of entries.
  • Advance hybrids via Nomination Portal.  Fulfill requirements for variety advancement through documentation of performance, documentation of resistance, and completion of required breeder’s seed.
  • Provide summarized results of trials in Nomination Portal.
  • Responsible for maintaining and updating the Project Definition Report annually and being prepared to present the program in this format once a year in a Breeding Review.
  • Assist in preparing market analysis and product profiles for product introduction and customer support. Work with Sales Department and/or Product Manager in designing and evaluating trials of advancing experimental varieties.
  • Planning crossing blocks and field trials, managing field selection and evaluation of assigned species.
  • Design breeding strategies and maintain breeding lines, including the collection and incorporation of new germplasm. Screen and select horticulturally acceptable and disease resistant material from breeding nurseries, laboratory and field screens.
  • Provide Production department with required amount of Breeder’s seed of parent lines of advancing hybrids along with Inbred (parent) Line Descriptions. Coordinate plant selection for production of quality stock seed. Work with plant pathology to identify and implement reliable assays and ensure production of adequate quantities of disease-free basic seed. Work with Biotechnology group to develop reliable trait linked markers to strengthen capacity of program
  • Attend selected professional conferences and seminars and maintain networks with the scientific community to stay at the technological forefront in watermelons.
  • Assist other breeding programs when necessary and/or assigned.


  • Supervisory responsibilities for regular and temporary personnel within assigned project.
  • Interact and participate in project related efforts with Pathology, Biotechnology, Sales, and Production.
  • Monthly reporting to the Director of Research.


  • The developed ability to select for horticultural type. Must have some knowledge of all aspects of both seed production and commercial crop production. The ability to develop and implement a vegetable breeding program.
  • The ability to organize and plan effectively and to communicate effectively with personnel within the company, the public, growers, and dealers. The ability to disseminate information either verbally or through written reports.
  • The ability to keep abreast of state-of-the-art technology relating to breeding or pathology of assigned species. The ability to lead and to motivate assistants, technicians, and part-time labor in assigned species to achieve objectives. The ability to manage resources while implementing a plan and staying on budget.
  • Ability to handle stress especially when encountering necessary projects, deadlines and/or high workload.
  • Must be able to work under strict time constraints and requirements.
  • Strong character traits required including emotional stability, adaptability, ability to handle stress, cultural and gender sensitivity, and honesty.


  • Formal education requirement is a Ph.D. degree in plant breeding/genetics or related field.


  • A minimum of three (3) years’ experience in plant breeding required.


  • Must be willing to travel extensively (up to 20% Travel)
  • Must be able to work with chemicals and possible irritating substances.
  • Must be able to wear personal protective equipment when necessary and/or required (backbrace, sunscreen, hat).
  • Must be able to work under different weather conditions such as extremes of temperature (heat and cold) dampness, rain and sun exposure.
  • Must be able to work in dusty conditions.
  • Must be able to sit for long periods of time.
  • Must be able to work long and irregular hours.
  • Must be able to lift 50 pounds on a regular basis.


  • Salary range: $67,000-$90,000 per year
  • Medical, Dental & Vision Insurance coverage for employees and their families
  • Basic Life & AD&D Insurance
  • 401k program with company match
  • Profit Sharing program (via 401k)
  • Holiday & Performance Incentive Bonus program
  • Paid Vacation: 10 days per year to start, increases with tenure
  • Sick Leave: 1 hour accrued per 30 hours worked for first 30 days, 6.67 hours per month after.
  • 14 paid company holidays, 2 floating holidays & birthday off
  • Paid Family Leave: 15 days after 12 months of service for FMLA qualifying events
  • Company provided EAP
  • Company provided subsidy for health/fitness clubs & apps

*To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty (as described above) satisfactorily. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these essential functions.

To apply, send resume to HR@sakata.com