Ceres, Inc. announced that its seed product offerings in the U.S. will include three new forage sorghum hybrids, following positive results from commercial evaluations last season as well as new university results released last week that highlighted a number of performance advantages, including the highest milk yield per acre, which is a key metric for dairy operations.

The company's expansion into the forage market is expected to bring innovative new products to growers and producers, including hybrids with higher yields, greater disease resistance and improved nutrition. 

Walter Nelson, Ceres Vice President of Product Development, says that forage is a natural extension of the company's work in energy crop development. Since 2007, Ceres has made substantial investments in developing hybrids from new sources of breeding lines, including many from challenging growing environments, to increase biomass yields and optimize the conversion of plant material into energy. 

"The forage market is highly complementary to our existing technology and hybrid development programs. Based on results from our pipeline, we believe we can substantially improve the nutritional quality and digestibility of forage sorghum," said Nelson.

Last season, the company's Blade brand hybrids performed well in large-scale evaluations with livestock and dairy producers, out-yielding current sorghum hybrids and comparing favorably to other forage crops, such as corn silage, which is planted for its high nutritional value. 

Ceres' products also performed well in numerous multi-hybrid trials.  For example, the University of Florida reported that one of the company's forage sorghum hybrids, EJ 7281, was the highest yielding commercial hybrid in both their spring and summer trials in 2014. In spring trials, EJ 7281 yields were calculated at 43,000 pounds of milk per acre, or 40% higher than the nearest entry. Results from summer plantings released last week by the university showed milk yields per acre approximately 20% higher than other commercially planted hybrids.  The company's Blade brand hybrids also scored well for standability and plant health.

Ceres is currently accepting seed bookings for its Blade brand hybrids EJ 7281, EJ 7282 and DS 7853 for spring and summer plantings. Blade forage hybrids automatically include common seed treatment for no additional charge. The company will also be testing pre-commercial products with dairies and livestock producers. 

"Improved sorghum can be a particularly attractive crop for livestock producers in water-deficit geographies as well as producers facing high input costs for feed," said Ceres Sales Agronomist Bud Wylie. "We believe that we have a pipeline of products that can fill this role."

In addition to its direct sales efforts, Ceres has completed a distribution agreement with Helena Chemical Company, a leading distributor of crop protection and crop production inputs and services with more than 450 locations in the U.S. Helena will provide sales and customer support for the company's forage sorghum in the southeastern U.S. "Helena approached us last season after seeing how well our hybrids performed, and we believe their local staff and resources will be a helpful complement to our own activities," said Wylie. "We are pleased to be working with such a well-regarded supplier."