Valent BioSciences Corporation (VBC) announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted registration approval for BioNik Plant Growth Regulator for use on corn seed. BioNik is a 25% formulation of s-abscisic acid (s-ABA), one of the five classes of plant growth regulators naturally present in plants. Abscisic acid regulates numerous plant processes including dormancy, maturation, growth, and response to stress conditions.

Hybrid corn seed producers will use BioNik to delay germination and better synchronize the flowering of male and female parents, capturing flexibility, efficiency, and reducing risk. Typically, pollen shed from the tassels of the male line plants does not completely overlap the receptivity period of the silks from the female line plants and fertilization is not maximized. To get the most value from their female line plants, seed producers typically make a second planting of the male line to ensure that pollen is available throughout the silking period.

Now, seed producers will have a new tool. When s-ABA is applied to the seed of the male line, germination is delayed. By treating their male line seed with BioNik, seed producers can extend the overall germination period and expand the pollen shed window from a single planting. This provides significant benefits to seed producers in terms of flexibility and cost-savings.

"BioNik is a good example of how a strong research effort can address a very specific market need and deliver value to a production system looking for innovative solutions," said Mike Donaldson, president and CEO of Valent BioSciences. BioNik is the first release from VBC's new Physiological Seed Enhancement business platform, under its plant growth regulator umbrella brand MASSIVO, and is the second release from VBC's new s-ABA franchise. "Our first registered s-ABA product, ProTone Plant Growth Regulator has been extremely successful promoting the development of fruit color on red table grapes. VBC is continuing to expand its research with s-ABA into several more areas within the horticulture, agronomic, and ornamental crop segments," Donaldson said.

BioNik can be applied along with or on top of standard seed treatment products using standard seed treatment equipment. It can be applied months or hours prior to planting, with no effect on performance. In 2012, the product will be available on a semi-commercial basis as use patterns are fine-tuned through large scale trials conducted with key corn seed producers. The first wide scale commercial use is planned for 2013.

VBC is developing BioNik in other regions including Europe, Argentina, and Chile. Research is also ongoing in hybrid seed production for other crops such as sunflower, canola, and sorghum.