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What's new in seed technology?

There's no shortage of conversation when you ask an agricultural sales representative at a farm show what's new.

That was typical of the Commodity Classic, which was held in early March in Tampa, Florida. Here's a smattering of some of the many new developments we heard about from some chemical and seed companies at the show.

  • BASF is widening its trademarked "Plant Health" concept to seed treatments.
    The company has registrations in the pipeline for seed treatments containing F 500, the active ingredient in Headline fungicide. F 500 (pyraclostrobin) has provided protection from cold in BASF trials.

    "This can be a big benefit, as growers are planting earlier and earlier," says Gary Fellows, BASF technical marketing manager for Headline.

    Look for these seed treatments to be on the market in the next several years.

Monsanto is still looking for farmers to grow Vistive soybeans for 2007.
Vistive soybeans are Monsanto's low-linolenic soybeans aimed at the low transfat product market. The company has doubled the average 30- to 35-cent-per-bushel premium to 55 to 65 cents per bushel for 2007. Monsanto is aiming for 1.5 million acres of Vistive soybeans to be planted in 2007, up from 100,000 acres in the program's inaugural year of 2005.

Some farmers in 2006 had yield concerns about Visitve soybeans. Performance did vary among geographical areas, says Kurt Wickstrom, Monsanto traits manager, soybeans and Vistive.

"There were farmers whose yield expectations were not met," he adds.

In 2006, Wickstrom notes one variety accounted for approximately 70% of the 500,000 acres of Vistive soybeans. This resulted in varied yields in some geographies, due to different environmental and agronomic challenges. However, he adds this will be countered by stepped-up varietal offerings this year that will enable farmers to plant the right variety on the right field.

Twenty-eight seed brands have signed on for 2007, with a number of varieties available in each brand. Vistive soybeans will be available in Iowa and parts of Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, Maryland and Missouri.

On the corn side, Monsanto launches its next generation of YieldGard stacked traits this year under YieldGard VT banner.
VecTran technology (hence the abbreviation VT) enables scientists to more precisely insert multiple traits in stacked hybrids, company officials say.

"VT is like a rifle shot compared to a shotgun," says Dion McBay Corn Traits Marketing Manager.

Monsanto will market around 1 million acres of its VT product YieldGard VT Triple. This contains This contains Yield Gard VT Rootworm and Corn Borer traits along with the Roundup Ready2 technology. Quantities of the Yield Gard VT Triple will be marketed in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, and other states in 2007, with much more expansion occurring in 2008, says McBay.

FMC has launched Hero insecticide.
In field corn, Hero is aimed at foliar use, such as when corn rootworm beetles clip corn silks. Hero results in quick insect knockdown and provides several weeks of residual protection.

Syngenta Crop Protection plans to gain registration in 2009 for Avicta nematicide in corn.
This nematicide is currently used in cotton. However, Avicta could be a fit in some states like Illinois, where farmers are battling corn nematodes.

On the seeds side, Syngenta plans to build upon its triple stack offerings of 2007 by offering a quad stack in 2008.
In January, the Environmental Protection Agency Syngenta granted registration approval for Syngenta's triple stack of resistance to European corn borer, Liberty Link herbicide, and corn rootworm. (Agrisure CB/LL/RW).

The approval allowed Syngenta to offer a quad stick in 2008, with its glyphosate-resistant trait (Agrisure GT) joining the triple trait mix. The quad stack will be known as Agrisure GT/CB/LL/RW.

The mix between Agrisure GT and Agrisure LL could serve as a complementary weed control in 2007 and 2008. Farmers could follow Liberty Link in corn in 2007 could be followed by controlling weeds via Agrisure GT in 2008, says Jack Bernens, business unit head, Agrisure traits.

"You could go up to thirds of your rotation on corn, and still have a way to control volunteer corn," he adds.

In 2009, Syngenta plans to roll out its Vegetative Insecticidal Protein/broad lepitopteran trait. This event, MIR 162, will feature broad lepidoptera control of pests like black cutworm, corn earworm, western bean cutworm, and fall armyworm.

Syngenta Seeds also plans to introduce a corn amylase trait in 2008. This trait is design to help improve ethanol manufacturing efficiency. Syngenta also plans to introduce its ultra-low linolenic soybean trait (one percent or less of linolenic acid) in 2009.

DuPont Crop Protection has received federal registration for DuPont Express herbicide (with TotalSol soluble granules) on sunflowers with the ExpressSun trait.
It is now submitting state registrations. Sunflowers with the ExpressSun trait have built-in tolerance to tribenuron methyl, the active ingredient in Express herbicide. ExpressSun trait seed will be marketed in Pioneer Hi-Bred International sunflower hybrids. Company officials say this will increase postemergence control options for broadleaf weeds in sunflowers. The technology was approved for use in Europe last year.

There's no shortage of conversation when you ask an agricultural sales representative at a farm show what's new.

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