Ceres, Inc., an agricultural biotechnology company focused on forage crops, has been awarded two patents related to crop traits that can increase and protect crop yields under less-than-optimal environmental conditions. The traits have potential application in numerous food, feed and fiber crops, such as corn, soybean, forage sorghum and cotton.

Ceres said that it plans to advance traits protected by these patents in its own crops of interest as well as offer other seed companies a license to the technology, including the option for exclusivity in certain crops. The company indicated that experimental results of plants with these traits have demonstrated significant advantages, such as plants that can be sown more densely together or that could be more productive on marginal farmland.

"There is a continuing need for crops that can thrive under dense populations and less than optimal environmental conditions," said Ceres President and CEO Richard Hamilton. He explained that densely planted crops tend to direct their energy toward lifting their leaves into the sunlight rather than putting energy into storage or grain production. This negatively impacts yields. "Traits that direct the plant to continue to focus on grain development or store energy in its stems and leaves could have a significant impact on increasing crop yields and farm income as well as revitalize low-value cropland."

The new patents announced today by Ceres were issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as U.S. Patent No. 9,303,268  and U.S. Patent No. 9,309,573. Ceres owns or maintains exclusive licensed rights to approximately 90 issued patents and numerous pending patent applications in the United States and in various foreign jurisdictions.