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Farmers will find plentiful seed corn, new technology for '08

Agriculture.com Staff 08/09/2007 @ 9:54am

Leading seed corn companies are geared up this year to meet the new level of demand from growers, company officials say. However, you might have to line up a little early to buy some of the elite hybrids with new technology.

The big seed producers don't necessarily look for a much bigger corn crop in '08, but have had to catch up to the new plateau of corn production that formed last fall with higher prices.

"We're ramping up production for 2008," says Jerry Harrington, sales and marketing public relations manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. "We increased [seed] corn production acres by over two-thirds, compared to last year."

Pioneer is expecting big demand for new technologies, including its triple-stack hybrids, which include Herculex insect protection technology and glyphosate resistance traits, Harrington said. "There's big demand for those technologies. There was big demand for them last year," he said.

Ben Kaehler, traits and germplasm specialist for Dow AgroSciences, maker of Mycogen corn hybrids, says it's unlikely the industry -- like last year -- will be surprised by the size of the corn crop this year. For 2008, DAS is expecting about 90 million acres of corn, Kaehler said.

Commercial seed producers are on track for a record year, Kaehler tells Agriculture Online. "They've never produced more seed than they will this year," he says. While he expects there will be "ample supplies" of seed, early purchasing may be in order to get the new technologies, Kaehler says. "Some hybrids will sell out quickly," he adds.

Syngenta Seeds is producing seed corn on about 15% more acres this summer than last year to meet expected customer demand, says Tom Gahm, head of communications for Syngenta corn and soybeans. Syngenta owns the Garst, Golden Harvest and NK brands.

"Although we expect the 2008 U.S. corn crop to be slightly smaller than this year, it will still be a very large crop, and we anticipate customer demand for Syngenta seed and traits to increase over 2007," he says.

Much of the new production is dedicated to new hybrids with stacked traits, Gahm says, including the new Agrisure 3000GT -- a four-way stack of GT (glyphosate tolerance) CB/LL (corn borer resistance and LibertyLink technology) and RW (corn rootworm resistance).

Despite droughty conditions in some areas, growing conditions for seed production generally have been good this summer, company representatives say.

"The majority of our acreage is irrigated," Gahm says. "Dryland acres have had timely and ample rainfall, and temperatures during pollination were ideal this summer."

Along with expanded domestic seed acres, Syngenta expanded winter seed production in South America, he says. "We will have a significantly larger volume of seed available to customers for 2008 -- more than we have ever had before."

Leading seed corn companies are geared up this year to meet the new level of demand from growers, company officials say. However, you might have to line up a little early to buy some of the elite hybrids with new technology.

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