Limited New Corn Traits in This Decade
But trait advancements are necessary for enacting a wider systems approach. On the horizon is a third-generation rootworm control seed product that will provide “increased control against rootworms with two distinct modes of action,” Beeghly said. “The products (seeds) on the market today are all Bt products; this new product will contain Bt technology as well as another natural process known as RNAi that will control rootworms.”
In talking about disease tolerance seed developments, Beeghly said, “We have always bred for disease tolerance, but we have really amped it up with advanced breeding. A couple key products within disease tolerance would be Goss’s wilt and gray leaf spot.” He noted that more and more acres are being attacked by these two diseases with limited new seed-bred resistance as choices to counter them.
Herbicide tolerance is where Monsanto is definitely expecting to have new corn hybrids on the market by the end of this decade. Roundup Ready Xtend corn “will contain a higher level of dicamba tolerance than corn has today.”
DroughtGuard is the company’s first-generation stress trait to counter low water availability when growing a crop. It was commercially introduced in 2013. Additional hybrid off erings will come from this biotech trait corn in the next couple years.
“We are working on next-generation yield and stress traits that we think are going to have broader utility and yield protection than the DroughtGuard we have out today,” the corn technology leader said. DroughtGuard is a prime example of how Beeghly explained Monsanto’s systems approach to helping farmers grow corn. Over the years, the company has bred high yielding corn with good genetics. Those hybrids with the best water-use efficiency are the base genetics and layered on top of that base are biotech weed control and insect control components. The last biotech layer is the first drought-tolerant gene discovered by Monsanto. Finally, the company provides answers to farmers on exactly how to plant the seed on what acres.
As DuPont Pioneer looks for new seed solutions for farmers growing corn, Reed Mayberry, DuPont Pioneer, senior marketing manager for corn, said, “We are trying to maximize the ROI on the farm and minimize the complexity of the decision that the customer needs to make. Deciding on what traits they need can be an ugly nightmare for some farmers.”
Optimum AcreMax Xtreme was launched this year. It is a stacked dual mode of action seed product for above and below ground insect protection of the corn. It has two modes of action for corn borer control and two modes of action for rootworm control in a refuge-in-a-bag solution. More hybrids with this protection will be offered in the coming year.