Seed Genetics Provide the Building Blocks of Yield

Seed is the first decision you make each year, and it has a ripple effect on every other input decision. ( Sonja Begemann )

The basis of yield starts with genetics. Scientists use advanced systems to improve genetics rapidly and target specific defenses for the changing agricultural landscape.

 ”Our product development pipeline is heavily based on leveraging all relevant data using the power of advanced analytics and decision sciences to solve the key production challenges,” says Trevor Hohls, Syngenta head of global seeds product development. Previously, plant breeding has been more of a descriptive approach. With data, researchers are moving toward predictive and next will be prescriptive approaches.

Here's a brief overview of some of the various breeding techniques.

  • Descriptive: researchers relied on their eyes to visually see trait expression and to search for desirable traits.
  • Predictive: researchers use data to determine how a trait will be expressed based on genetic data.
  • Prescriptive: researchers will be able to match genetics to fields based on data to help maximize yield potential considering disease tolerances, insects and weeds.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of gene editing technology — but what is it really? With advanced data collection, plant breeders can pick what specific genes they want to see expressed in crops, and they can quickly determine if the trait is meeting the desired outcome.

Prescriptive breeding has the potential to improve yields. Through this process, researchers fit genetics to each field using environment and weather data.

“We can run crop-growing models out for farmers and based on our understanding of the right germplasm, long-term weather forecasts and farm management practices, recommend a package of hybrids,” says Geoff Graham, Corteva Agriscience global breeding lead. “It starts with the right experiments in the field and measuring germplasm and environment to get large-scale data so we can position those hybrids.”

This is the first of a multi-part series "Seed Empowers Every Input Decision." Check out for more over the next week.

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