The Growmark Inc. board of directors has named Jeff Solberg as chief executive officer of Growmark effective January 3, 2011. Solberg will replace current chief executive officer Bill Davisson, who announced his retirement for the same date. Solberg has held the positions of financial analyst, cash manager, assistant treasurer, treasurer, vice president of finance and senior vice president of finance for Growmark.
Alejandro Sevilla, a veteran of the U.S. nursery industry with broad agribusiness experience in Latin America, has joined AgriCapital Advisors. He will serve the special needs of nursery companies and will support AgriCapital’s activities in Latin America. Sevilla has over 30 years’ experience in the agribusiness industry.
The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center has announced that James Carrington, a leading plant researcher who directs the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University, will take the helm of the center. Carrington is a top plant researcher, noted for his work showing how small RNA controls plant characteristics. Carrington will begin the job May 1, 2011, for a five-year contract.
Becker Underwood Inc. has hired Philip Thornton and Barry Skipper as territory managers for seed enhancement and inoculant products. Skipper will manage sales and customer service support efforts for the Missouri Bootheel area, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Thornton will manage sales of seed enhancement and inoculant products in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.
The International Seed Testing Association has announced that John Hampton has resigned as president of ISTA. The vice president of ISTA, Joel Lechappe, has taken over the duties of the president from 2010–13 and will continue as president of ISTA from 2013–16. Until a new vice president can be elected at the ISTA Congress 2013, the executive committee appointed committee member Fracisco Krzyzanowski to serve as an officer of ISTA.
Monsanto Company has announced that Carl Casale, executive vice president and chief financial officer, has left his position to become president and chief executive officer of CHS Inc., a diversified energy, grains and foods company. Casale began his position at CHS on January 1, 2011.
Ronnie De La Cruz has joined the Context Network and will serve the firm’s clientele as a senior associate. Having worked more than 20 years in the fresh produce industry, De La Cruz is actively engaged in consulting, speaking and educational/training endeavors. De La Cruz has worked closely with a full range of the fresh produce supply channel from seed companies to growers/shippers to consumers in North, Central and South America, the European Union, and Africa.
Germains Seed Technology has appointed Dan Reighn as the head of sales for North America Horticulture. Reighn brings 20 years of sales and marketing experience, working with notable brands such as Kraft, Fresh Express and Dole. Reighn will work with Germains customers, ensuring their needs are met, working together to deliver industry-leading seed technologies to the seed industry.
Betaseed Inc., headquartered in Shakopee, Minn. and specializing in sugar beet seed research and development, has hired a new sales agent and plant breeder. Betaseed has named Brian Specht as the new independent sales agent for the Alliance, Hemingford and Mirage Flats areas of Nebraska. Specht has been a member of the Nebraska Beet Growers Association for the past 10 years. Betaseed has also named Hans-Henning Voss as plant breeder at its Western Sugar beet Research Center in Kimberly, Idaho. Since March 2010, Voss has been a participant of the KWS SAAT AG’s Breeders Academy program at the Kimberly station.
Becker Underwood has introduced Polymer 1172–O, an Organic Materials Review Institute-certified, water-soluble seed polymer designed to bind organic seed treatments onto seed and control dust-off. “Polymer 1172–O provides seed conditioners a convenient way to bind various natural biological performance enhancers and seed protectants onto seed in organic production systems,” says Stephanie Zumbach, Becker Underwood product manager for seed enhancements.
Bio-Forge is a plant performance technology that delivers yield-enhancing results on corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and most crops. To meet the increasing demand, StollerUSA has introduced Bio-Forge ST—specially formulated to be used only as a seed treatment. It is designed to ensure ample and even seed coverage, ease of application through the seed treater, and enhanced compatibility with other standard seed treatment chemicals. Bio-Forge ST provides growers a cost-effective, university-tested treatment that will enhance seed germination; ensure strong, early root growth and offset the effects of stress; and increase yields.
Legend Seeds has announced that QuickRoots, a microbial seed treatment from TJ Technologies, can be ordered on all Legend Seeds corn hybrids and soybean varieties for the 2011 planting season. According to the company, the addition of QuickRoots microbial seed treatment to Legend Seeds’ corn hybrids is adding extra yields of six to eight bushels per acre. Matt Hubsh, Legend Sales agronomist, says: “the yield increase far outweighs the cost.”
Syngenta Seedcare has introduced Avicta Complete Beans, a combination of separately registered products, which contains the first seed treatment nematicide available for use on soybeans. Avicta 500 FS seed treatment nematicide is combined with CruiserMaxx Beans insecticide/fungicide seed treatment combination to provide triple protection against damaging nematodes, insects and diseases, helping increase plant stand, improve vigor and ensure each seedling reaches its full genetic yield potential. “With Avicta Complete Beans, the interaction of a nematicide, an insecticide and fungicides delivers superior early-season pest protection and even better results,” says David Long, technical crop manager for Syngenta Seedcare. “We are excited that soybean growers now can rely on the proven performance of Avicta and experience convenient, consistent and reliable protection from day one.”
Plant Bioscience Limited and Dow AgroSciences have entered into an exclusive commercial license agreement for technology that enhances the root systems of plants. The technology, developed by Liam Dolan and his colleagues at the John Innes Centre, clones and characterizes genes that may play vital roles in anchorage, water use and nutrient uptake in plants. The genes are highly conserved among land plants and the technology has shown to be effective in enhancing root systems in transgenic plants of major crops around the world.
Syngenta and DuPont have announced that Syngenta has assumed full ownership of GreenLeaf Genetics LLC. The transaction dissolves a joint venture between Syngenta Seeds and DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred. It enables Syngenta and Pioneer to pursue independent licensing strategies for their respective proprietary corn and soybean genetics and biotechnology traits. “With full control of GreenLeaf, we can move more quickly in broadening access to our expanding portfolio of innovative traits and germplasm,” says Davor Pisk, chief operating officer of Syngenta. GreenLeaf will now operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds.
FBSciences Inc. has launched a new Plant Protection Division to advance the development of seed treatments and crop protection products with its proprietary plant growth regulator technology. The new division will concentrate on the commercialization of products utilizing proprietary, naturally-occurring plant growth regulator technology. FBS anticipates registration of this new PGR technology by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the second quarter of 2011. The EPA has already assigned the PGR technology as a new class of biopesticide chemistry.
Incotec and Tradecorp have agreed to join forces to design and market unique, new seed technologies. An agreement has been signed formalizing this mutually exclusive cooperation. Tradecorp actives will be combined with Incotec seed coating and application technology which is specially designed for this purpose. Incotec will be responsible for marketing these products to the global seed industry.
Group Limagrain has opened a subsidiary operation in Fort Collins, Colo., that will serve as the company’s national U.S. cereal seeds base. The subsidiary, Limagrain Cereal Seeds, is Group Limagrain’s first American office for cereal breeding. The company will focus on wheat research and market its seeds under the LG brand. The company expects to launch up to 100 products in the next two years. Although Fort Collins will be the North American headquarters, regional operations will be located in Washington, Indiana, Minnesota and Kansas.
DuPont has acquired Seed Consultants, Inc., of Washington C.H., Ohio, and Terral Seed of Lake Providence, La., as part of its Pioneer Hi-Bred PROaccess business strategy. Terms were not disclosed. These two seed companies have been distributing products under the Pioneer-owned trademarks:
- Supreme EX brand corn hybrids and soybean varieties, distributed by Seed Consultants
- REV brand corn hybrids and soybean varieties, distributed by Terral Seed
Genetically modified plants can come about by natural means. A research group at Lund University in Sweden has described the details of such an event among higher plants. It is likely gene transfer was mediated by a parasite or a pathogen. Research in Lund shows genetic modification can take place naturally among wild plants. “In our research group we have suspected this for some time and now my colleague Pernilla Vallenback has used DNA analysis to show that this is indeed the case,” says Bengt Bengtsson, professor at LU’s Department of Biology. The research has been published in the scientific journal PLoS One.
Virginia Tech and Monsanto have announced a public-private collaborative agreement that will allow both parties to improve their wheat breeding programs. Both parties are free to form additional collaborative arrangements with other public or private entities. “VT will have access to the latest technologies for trait and line selection using marker-assisted breeding and timely access to unique value-added traits, both of which will make wheat production more competitive and profitable,” says Carl Griffey, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences at VT.
Clemson University extension vegetable specialist J. Powell Smith, United States Department of Agriculture research geneticist Mark Farnham and North Carolina State University extension specialist Jeanine Davis are part of a team of industry and academic researchers working to develop a $100 million broccoli industry on the East Coast in the next 10 years. The effort is backed by a $3.2 million grant from the USDA, with an additional $1.7 million in matching contributions from companies that will help develop broccoli varieties to suit conditions in the eastern United States, recruit farmers, and organize networks for growers and distributors. Scientists will continue to work with seed companies and test sites to develop hybrids to suit regional conditions.
Simplified Software has released a new FileMaker Pro-based software product called Produce Advantage complimenting its Advantage series of products for the produce industry. Produce Advantage was developed in response to client requests for a hybrid product that bridges the gap between a shipper, broker and distributor product. “You get all the simplicity of Broker Advantage plus grower accounting and inventory control,” says developer Greg Mainis. According to the company, people will like the flexibility Produce Advantage allows them to change pricing, quantities and terms up to the time a grower statement is finalized.
University of Illinois research has resulted in the development of a novel and widely applicable molecular tool that can serve as a road map for making plant breeding easier to understand. Researchers developed a unified nomenclature for male fertility restorer proteins in higher plants that can make rapid advancements in plant breeding.“Understanding the mechanism by which RF genes suppress the male sterile phenotype and restore fertility to plants is critical for continued improvements in hybrid technology,” says Manfredo Seufferheld, U of I assistant professor of crop sciences. To reach this goal, Seufferheld teamed up with researchers at Purdue University and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas in Granada, Spain, to develop a simplified genetic-based nomenclature that automatically catalogues the entire RF gene products into families and subfamilies.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute is rolling its sleeves to implement its medium and long-term corporate plans after its Board of Trustees approved the Institute’s programs for 2011-2016. Following a series of stakeholder’s consultation-workshops, the country’s lead agency in rice science and development will be in full swing executing projects that will enable rice to adapt to climate change, increase yield in the irrigated lowland, develop nutraceutical rice products and package location-specific technologies. A program focusing on determining the complex interrelationship between the development of rice industry and national economy is also in place.
Patrick Masson, professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, grows seedlings of the Arabidopsis plant in Petri dishes set at a sharp incline, deliberately jumbling the natural cues plants use to figure out how to grow. The setup causes the plants’ roots to skew down the surface of the plate in tiny waves, as if they didn’t know which way to turn. From the plants’ confusion, Masson finds clarity. The root growth patterns are helping him study the molecular mechanisms plants use to sense important information about their environment, such as which way is up and the location of rocks or other obtrusions that might hinder root development. In the process, Masson is contributing to an overlooked field of study that may be poised to revolutionize agriculture. Roots, largely ignored by plant breeders in their attempts to boost crop yields, are gaining attention as a potential target for new efforts to optimize plants.