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Increasing costs may slow growth in multiple stack demand

Agriculture.com Staff 10/02/2008 @ 9:28am

The growth in planting triple and quad stack corn hybrids may level out in 2009, says one seed company official.

Hybrids with a weed control trait or traits (glyphosate and/or glufosinate) and traits giving resistance to European corn borer (ECB), and corn rootworm will continue to be a valuable tool for farmers, says Bruce Howison, vice president of marketing for Syngenta corn and soybean seeds. That's particularly true if ECB and corn rootworm threaten corn in their area. However, farmers who plant insect-resistant hybrids in areas where corn rootworm and/or ECB threats are low may eye the technology fee of added traits more carefully.

"We see the adoption curve of triple stacks starting to flatten out in 2009," Howison told those attending a Syngenta media summit in Kissimmee, Florida. "If you would have asked us the same question just 12 months ago, we would have seen unprecedented demand. We went through the last year in farm commodities when prices were peaking. Farmers were prepared to invest in anything to get more yield on their farm."

"Farmers are becoming much more astute in investment decisions around technology, fertility, traits, crop protection, and they are looking at significant cost increases across the board," says Howison.

Meanwhile, recent plunging grain markets threaten to slice margins for 2009.

"We see farmers making a much more conscious effort before deciding what technology to invest on their farm," says Howison. "The availability of trait stacks may actually exceed on-farm need. I didn't say demand. Farmers will continue to demand new technology, but where they don't need a specific trait on their farm, will they use it as insurance or 'just in case?'

"We're starting to see customers say, 'no, I don't need rootworm (resistant trait) on my farm,'" adds Howison. "They don't think that's a problem issue on their farm. They may want to spray just glyphosate. We think there's a fit for that. Having single- and double-traited products to help farmers manage (insect trait) refuges over the next three to five years will be critical.

"One important piece in all this is if farmers will be buying yesterday genetics with single or double stacks, or if they will be able to buy single or double stacks with new genetics in them," says Howison.

Farmers who save on technology fees by foregoing an insect trait not needed on their farm would be penny wise and pound foolish if they plant old genetics with limited yield potential. In Syngenta's case, Howison says Syngenta's seed companies -- Golden Harvest, NK Brand, and Garst -- will have double or single stacks available in new elite genetics.

The growth in planting triple and quad stack corn hybrids may level out in 2009, says one seed company official.

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