Spectrum Premium Genetics is a new brand of exclusively non-GMO seed corn distributed by Spectrum Seed Solutions, a seed company based near Crawfordsville, Ind. The Spectrum brand is committed to offering choice and product diversity in an era of seed industry consolidation, and redefining hybrid performance, sustainable crop protection, and economic return for farmers. Spectrum Premium Genetics is the result of a thorough, decade-long proprietary research program dedicated to breeding, hybrid evaluation, and on-farm producer trials. The brand is positioned to deliver elite products for U.S. corn producing areas ranging from less than 90 days to over 115 days relative maturity.

Expanding Choices for Farmers

“Several years ago I began to recognize fewer seed options and more restricted access to seed research data necessary for decision making. Along with seed becoming my most expensive input, my underlying concern was an increasing lack of choices for our family farm operation; and my attention consequently shifted to creating quality alternatives to the current seed corn available. As our company formed, I quickly discovered the most profitable options were new non-GMO hybrids,” says company President Scott Odle.

In 2012, Spectrum will expand its product line-up to 16 non-GMO hybrids and use local research data to match products to growing environments. “These genetics are the newest genetic choices available to farmers, and we move aggressively to commercial seed production once the best product for a target environment is identified. This enables farmers to immediately benefit from genetic yield gains. In contrast, transgenic GMO products often require as many as five years for trait conversions, efficacy trials, and regulatory approvals before release. When a GMO product is eventually available to farmers, we’re already on to the next generation of genetic yield potential,” says Product Manager Scott Johnson.

Hybrid Development and Performance

The size and scope of the Spectrum hybrid development and breeding program ranks among the top 10 programs in the United States, and one the largest dedicated solely to making non-GMO products available to farmers today. Each year, thousands of yield trials and pre-commercial strips from Ohio to North Dakota are carried-out to compare possible new non-GMO releases with the most popular commercial products on the market today, with or without traits. In addition to extensive hybrid evaluation and selection, corn breeding activities focused on inbred line development are based in Indiana and Minnesota, as well as Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico. “Our breeding program is very hands-on and comprehensive. The breeders carefully select new strains of genetics in the field, and combine field information with molecular marker data to better understand how the germplasm can be used to enhance yield potential, or other characteristics. These ongoing breeding projects will ensure the availability of premier non-GMO hybrids today and in the future,” says Johnson.

Sustainable Crop Protection

Spectrum Seed Solutions utilizes Durayield technology, a series of proprietary stress tolerance traits, as a tool for managing a wide range of corn production challenges. Unlike a single gene or the few genes used in GMO hybrids for pest control, Durayield non-GMO hybrids use an array of native genes to convey stable tolerance to disease, insects, drought, heat, and conditions of low fertility. There are no IRM (Insect Resistance Management) refuge requirements or market restrictions for Durayield products. “Our non-stop, year-round breeding station in Puerto Rico is an ideal place to strategically induce various stresses and efficiently identify gene combinations for Durayield products. Rapid integration of these stress tolerance mechanisms with simultaneous improvement for genetic yield potential is an incredible market advantage for the farmer,” says Technology Manager Ed Baumgartner. Durayield technology will be offered in the Spectrum Premium Genetics brand for the 2012 growing season.

Economic Return

In 2010, Spectrum initiated PlotPak, an on-farm strip trial program designed to confirm potential economic return of non-GMO hybrids. The program is implemented by farmers to assess non-GMO product performance compared to the dominant GMO products on their farms. “Buying seed is an investment and we understand our seed products must offer additional returns. Last year, based on 120 replications of farmer-generated data, we found non-GMO hybrids out-yielded GMO hybrids by an average of 4.7 bushels per acre,” says Odle. And he adds, “This is why we see our PlotPak program as a critical component of our story. The purpose is to empower farmers and re-engage them in the decision making process.”