Phil Simon

USDA-ARS, University of Wisconsin
Geneticist & Professor, Dept of Horticulture
Madison, WI


Phil’s research in vegetable genetics and breeding has focused on fresh market carrot improvement, targeting improved flavor and nutritional quality, nematode, disease and abiotic stress resistance, and genetic mapping of these and other traits. He led the USDA breeding effort in the development of widely used carrot germplasm with improved flavor and nutritional value, novel purple color, and root-knot nematode resistance. To complement his breeding effort, along with students and collaborators, he has developed breeding tools, including co-leadership in the sequencing of the carrot genome, and collected carrot, Allium, and other vegetable germplasm in nine collecting expeditions. Phil has undertaken related plant breeding research including the first production of true seed in garlic, and development of cucumber and melon germplasm with orange color and elevated carotene content.

Phil’s early career efforts focused on developing screening methods to breed for sweeter, less harsh carrot flavor, and high carotene carrots as an improved source of vitamin A. His release of purple carrot germplasm in the 1990’s proved a foundation for the re-introduction of novel carrot colors into modern US markets. He has led the Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project to combine improved flavor and nutritional value in a range of carrot colors, with disease and pest resistance and also with larger tops for better weed competitiveness.