Bayer CropScience is expanding into produce.

The Research Triangle, N.C.-based company has created a business unit to specifically invest in horticulture.

Though seed companies traditionally focus on grains and other larger commodity crops, the new division puts fruits and vegetables and tree nuts on equal standing with Bayer’s other businesses and allows it to invest more into the segment, said Rob Schrick, Bayer’s horticulture business lead.

It plans to go beyond traditional grower field solutions and work with retailers and processors, he said.

“We are making sure we’re in the conversation to make our technology known and to better understand this complex industry,” he said. “In horticulture, it’s not just the grower planting the seed or taking care of the orchard. It’s what happens after that as the high value crops travel through the food chain to the consumer.”

The separate business unit helps Bayer work to fund research to solve citrus greening also known as HLB or huanglongbing and also work to stop zebra chip disease in potatoes, Schrick said.

To become more involved in the industry, Schrick represents Bayer on the board of directors of the United Fresh Produce Association in Washington, D.C., and is becoming more involved in the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, he said.

Bayer’s horticulture investment should also help expand opportunities in emerging markets.

In discussing new markets, many talk about protein. Bayer, however, sees consumption of fresh produce also being important in developing markets, Schrick said.

Schrick said he’s enjoyed gaining insights from farm visits to citrus, grape and tomato growers.

He said they view technology as a way of helping them remain economically viable.

Bayer CropScience is a division of the Germany-based Bayer, one of the world’s largest chemical and pharmaceutical companies.