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Spray-on drought-deterring technology on the way

Farmers should have a new drought-fighting tool to use by early next decade.

Syngenta and AgroFresh, a subsidiary of Rohm and Haas, have signed a letter of intent to develop and commercialize Invinsa technology. AgroFresh now uses the active ingredient in this technology -- 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) -- in its SmartFresh Quality System. In this system, 1-MCP preserves the nutritional quality and freshness of apples over long-term storage.

The companies plan to introduce Invinsa technology in field crops to protect yields during periods of high temperatures, mild-to-moderate drought, and other crop stressors.

The companies aim to use Invinsa technology that contains the 1-MCP active ingredient in field crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, sunflowers, rice, and canola. Applicators would spray a formulation containing 1-MCP on field crops ideally before hot and droughty conditions start.

Syngenta is working with AgroFresh to refine recommendations for factors like application timing and dosage. "The best performance has been where crops actually realized some type of stress," says Travis Dickinson, head of marketing for Syngenta Crop Protection.

Pricing will coincide around the time of the product launch that is slated in two years.

One effect 1-MCP has on apples is inhibition of ethylene, a ripening agent. 1-MCP has been shown to suppress ethylene response and extend the postharvest shelf life and quality of apples and other fruits and vegetables.

Ethylene suppression has also been one of the yield-enhancing physiological benefits that can occur in some cases when farmers apply fungicides on corn and soybeans. Dickinson says the Invinsa technology, a growth regulator, works differently than a fungicide, which is a pesticide. "We believe it will be complementary to fungicide use rather than conflictive," he says.

Syngenta is among several seed companies using biotechnology to develop drought-resistant hybrids and varieties. Dickinson says the Invinsa technology could complement drought-resistant hybrids and varieties, or be used by itself as another drought-fighting option. It would provide growers a drought-tolerant option for grain shipped to areas that critically view transgenic technology, such as the European Union.

Farmers should have a new drought-fighting tool to use by early next decade.

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