Upcoming Offerings from the Largest Seed and Trait Suppliers

Pipelines of Promise

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
Connect with Pamela:
(Jim Patrico)

Each tiny seed holds a promise of more. Major seed and trait providers have pipelines full of built-in protections to help deliver on that promise.

Here's a snapshot of the offerings coming from some of the largest seed and trait suppliers in the industry. Companies are listed in alphabetical order, and the lightly edited information comes from the companies. Keep in mind that other seed companies license technologies from these trait providers, too.

BASF

The BASF seed business is celebrating major milestones this year. Stoneville cotton celebrates 100 years, and FiberMax cotton and InVigor hybrid canola both celebrate 25 years in business.

-- Cotton Innovation. BASF knows how important it is for growers to protect their fields from resistant weeds and is excited to introduce Axant Flex herbicide trait technology -- cotton's first quad-stacked herbicide trait package available in both Stoneville and FiberMax cotton brands.

Powered by a new HPPD-resistant trait, Axant Flex technology delivers a new site of action to deal with troublesome broadleaf weeds when coupled with the pre- or early post use of Alite 27 herbicide. The 2023 growing season will be a demonstration year to highlight overall yield and quality. Availability is anticipated for the 2024 growing season, pending regulatory approval.

-- Soybean Innovation. BASF will continue to introduce new Xitavo soybean seed varieties each year, building to a target of approximately 20 new varieties per year by 2027 and beyond. Xitavo soybean seed is owned by MS Technologies and exclusively distributed by BASF.

These soybeans will focus on breeding varieties exclusive to BASF that will help raise overall average yields for growers while also providing germplasm differentiation that will help growers reduce risk by having more genetic diversity on-farm. New varieties will start to be introduced for the 2025 planting season.

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is one of the leading causes of soybean yield loss in the U.S. and contributes to an estimated $1.5 billion in economic losses for soybean fields each year. To answer that need, BASF is developing the first transgenic trait to control SCN.

The nematode-resistant-soybean (NRS) trait provides control of soybean cyst nematode leading to incremental yield protection above and beyond the current industry standard of native SCN resistance plus seed-applied nematode control.

This trait will also be the first highly effective product for SCN control and the first plant-incorporated mode of action for SCN control in more than 20 years. It provides effective SCN control without any negative agronomic effects in a single trait for ease of breeding.

The NRS trait is an early-stage research project, and BASF intends to launch the trait in the latter half of the decade.

-- Canola Innovations. BASF plans to focus on breeding to ensure top yields and trait performance are maintained with the InVigor brand -- via strong hybrids with pod shatter and clubroot traits.

The company continues to develop new InVigor Health hybrids to strengthen its position in the specialty oil market and is evaluating innovations that will enhance heat and drought stress tolerance, as well as allow for overall market expansion and growth of canola acres in the United States.

BAYER

Bayer's robust pipeline demonstrates its commitment to delivering innovative products to farmers ranging from seed genetics and traits through crop protection and management. Its grower-centric approach to research focuses on weeds, pests and even the harshest weather Mother Nature can deliver. Bayer delivers these solutions through a more-than-$2-billion annual research and development (R&D) investment.

One example of Bayer providing new solutions is its Smart Corn System, a production system centered around short-stature corn hybrids and designed to help farmers mitigate risk from adverse weather and proactively manage inputs. This system protects against crop yield loss from lodging and greensnap, while also providing increased access with standard field equipment for precision applications of nitrogen and crop-protection products. The Smart Corn System helps farmers explore increased yield potential by providing opportunities to optimize inputs, planting densities and field placement.

-- Rootworm Advances. Protection against the billion-dollar bug, corn rootworm (CRW), and other yield-robbing pests is another area where Bayer focuses research. The company's seeds-and-traits pipeline tackles a number of corn pests through the introduction of SmartStax PRO Technology, available beginning of 2022, and VT4PRO with RNAi (RNA interference) Technology, expected to launch as early as 2024. With an industry-first RNAi mode of action found in SmartStax PRO with RNAi Technology, the product layers three modes of action for corn rootworm within the same corn package.

VT4PRO Technology will provide options for farmers looking to add protection against above- and belowground pests. It delivers three proven aboveground modes of action found in Trecepta Technology to manage against pests including European corn borer, fall armyworm and western bean cutworm. And, thanks to the belowground technology, it will perform well in low to moderate corn-rootworm-pressure conditions. The built-in insect protection out of the bag and herbicide-tolerance trait packages will combine proven defenses to protect corn yields, providing corn growers the widest spectrum of insect defense from Bayer.

-- Soybean Advances. On the soybean front, the launch of HT4 Soybeans is expected within the decade. HT4, when approved, will add 2,4-D and HPPD to the already approved glyphosate, dicamba and glufosinate package found in XtendFlex soybeans. HT4 is set to be the industry's first five-tolerance trait stack in soybeans, giving farmers even greater flexibility in management.

Bayer's pipeline extends the company's track record of converting R&D into value-added solutions for growers -- supporting their need to meet growing global demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel while advancing a climate-smart future for the industry.

CORTEVA AGRISCIENCE

In the coming years, Corteva Agriscience's robust pipeline is poised to deliver innovative solutions to farmer challenges across its broad portfolio of seed and crop-protection products. Among the most anticipated are the next generation of seed products with Enlist weed-control-system technology.

-- Corn Products. When commercially available, Vorceed Enlist corn will be Corteva's next generation of CRW protection, with the flexibility and durability farmers need to help maximize return on investment on their corn rootworm acres. With a novel RNAi mode of action to help manage trait durability, control feeding and suppress reproduction numbers, Vorceed Enlist corn offers full-season control of CRW larvae at all stages of development. Three modes of action against susceptible belowground pests and three modes of action against key lepidopteran pests combine with the Enlist corn trait stack, which offers tolerance to 2,4-D choline and "FOP" herbicides -- plus tolerance to glufosinate and glyphosate herbicides.

While Corteva is finalizing its commercial plans, there will be expanded access of Vorceed Enlist corn products for U.S. farmers in the 2023 growing season, with a ramp-up in a broader set of genetic backgrounds in the coming years.

-- Soybean Products. Next generation Enlist E3 soybeans are also on the horizon following the recent announcement that Corteva, BASF and MS Technologies are collaborating to bring to market the first commercially available biotech trait to control nematodes in Enlist E3 soybeans.

The nematode-resistant soybean trait from BASF, which provides new protection against the billion-dollar soybean cyst nematode pest, brings an additional layer of yield protection to Enlist E3 soybeans, whose transgenic soybean event is jointly developed and owned by Corteva Agriscience and MS Technologies. In addition to the choice and expanded flexibility enabled by the Enlist weed-control system, farmers can continue to expect the elite germplasm, local agronomic support, digital tools, trusted advisers and more from Corteva Agriscience's Enlist E3 soybeans with the new trait technology. Look for Enlist E3 soybeans with the new NRS trait to launch in North America in the late 2020s, pending applicable regulatory reviews and completion of field testing.

SYNGENTA

Syngenta Seeds scientists are as comfortable in the field as they are in a lab, with its R&D teams keeping farmers' needs central to its pipeline development. This is put into practice at a 152-acre Farm of the Future, a testing ground for agricultural technologies and methods located in north-central Illinois. In addition to trialing new traits and varieties at the Farm of the Future, the company tests the latest sensors for disease detection and prediction, and drones for precise weed control. This helps Syngenta more quickly understand what technologies work best, continuously applying real-world conditions.

Working hand in hand with customers keeps Syngenta focused on delivering what they need now and in the future. This is evident through unique, proprietary technologies like HI-Edit, which combines haploid induction and genome editing into one step. This significantly accelerates the product-development timeline, getting hybrids in farmers' hands faster.

Syngenta has also made several recent investments in its physical footprint, including one of the industry's largest trait introgression facilities, located in Nampa, Idaho. In the coming year, Syngenta is opening a new, world-class innovation center in Malta, Illinois, right in the heart of the U.S. Corn Belt, making it even easier to cocreate solutions with partners.

-- Soybean Strides. New tech and new infrastructure only matter if the core business is at its best. A more than 50-year legacy of soybean breeding provides diversity in Syngenta's portfolio. The company will continue delivering new traits to the market while owning the unique position of providing trait choice through proprietary genetics for both major herbicide trait platforms (Enlist E3 and XtendFlex soybeans).

-- Corn Investments. Continued investments in R&D, including a new breeding discovery group, have paid off in the field. The company is sampling twice as many corn varieties, leading to better analytics and a 40% increase in precommercial hybrids -- which means the corn seed portfolio is delivering more trait choice on higher-performing genetics because of more testing and evaluation that ensures more consistency in the field. Syngenta's current trait stack, DuracadeViptera, offers comprehensive insect protection, controlling 16 above- and belowground pests.

A recently launched new, farmer-focused business model called GHX by Golden Harvest provides farmers a new way to buy seed that makes the experience easier with one straight-up, flat, per-acre price.

To keep the food supply nimble and resilient, farmers expect (and deserve) more choices from a suite of better products -- which Syngenta Seeds is focused on delivering for them.

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