BURLEY — SESVanderHave has strengthened its presence in Burley with a new Idaho research facility.

On Wednesday, the Belgium-based sugar beet seed company hosted an open house for the new Burley center. The 14-acre property has a 12,000 square-foot warehouse, a 3,000 square-foot office, plus a seed lab, seed production tunnels and extra room to grow.

It’s a step up from the two buildings the company has been renting in Burley, and helps SESVanderHave reach its goals in the U.S.

“The market is requiring competitive sugar beet varieties,” Global Research and Development Director Gerhard Steinruecken said.

SESVanderHave has had a strategic plan for its U.S. operations, and more than doubled its research and equipment in the country over four years.

In Idaho, researchers select for varieties that are resistance to diseases such as curly top and rhizomania, and have a tolerance for the nematode parasite, Idaho market sales manager Ben Bingham said. Amalgamated Sugar factories in Twin Falls, Nampa and Paul publish trial results each year where they select an approved list of varieties, he said.

“If they meet their criteria, we’re allowed to sell it to growers,” Bingham said.

David Boehm, SESVanderHave’s U.S. research and development manager, said the Idaho market is incredibly important for the company.

At the Burley research center, SES VanderHave has yield trials to select the best of the best. Each of 40 different seed tunnels on the property is set up with pollinators on one side and the female plants on the other. The female plants are downwind from the pollinators, so there is more control over the creation of hybrids.

A seed processing area will prepare, coat and polish seed from the company’s Idaho and California research centers for commercial testing.

The Burley research center employs about half a dozen regular staff, plus seasonal workers.

Nick Revier, sales manager for the company’s American Crystal region, said the company used to do most of its U.S. research from its U.S. headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota. Although geographically close to its Brawley, Calif., research center, Idaho was selected for more trials due to its wide open spaces, where there is greater control of isolation to reduce contamination, Revier said.

SESVanderHave sells sugar beet seed to 50 countries worldwide. The company formed in 2005 from the merger of Belgian seed company SES Europe and the Dutch company VanderHave.

The Idaho research facility was constructed at East Fifth Street in Burley. Boehm believes the new site will help foster employee communication. Staff are expected to move in later this month.

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