Syngenta announced the opening of an international research facility focused on combating broomrape, a parasitic weed that has a devastating impact on sunflower.

The Broomrape Center of Excellence will create solutions with multiple modes of action by bringing together the best seed and crop protection research capabilities at Syngenta's R&D facility in Stein, Switzerland.

The opening commenced with a series of grower workshops which highlighted the capabilities of the research facility and included the sharing of challenges relating to the management of broomrape today and in the future.

More than 50 percent of total European sunflower acreage suffers from broomrape infestation of varying degrees, and due to the evolution of new races each year growers risk having fewer options to control this damaging parasitic weed. Broomrape grows on sunflower roots, depleting the plant of key nutrients; its seeds spread quickly and persist in the soil for up to 20 years, making it a major challenge for sunflower growers. Left untreated, broomrape causes severe yield loss, including complete crop failure.

Ioana Tudor, Syngenta Global Head of Diverse Field Crops, said: "We're committed to address this critical grower challenge. The Broomrape Center of Excellence will enable us to continue bringing to market new high yielding hybrids that are broomrape resistant as well as to identify chemistries that can be effective against broomrape.

"By providing integrated solutions with multiple modes of action supported by good resistance management practices, we can help sunflower growers to maximize yields and ensure their long-term competitiveness."

Syngenta is the world leader in high-quality sunflower solutions. Significant investments and acquisitions over the past ten years have helped build a best-in-class hybrid portfolio as well as a leading seed care and crop protection offer.

Syngenta native traits for disease resistance and drought/heat tolerance are delivered in high yielding hybrids and are tailored to suit local grower needs. The high oleic hybrid portfolio is addressing a key consumer requirement for healthier oils.