Seed World

Why a Long Legacy of Corn Breeding Makes a Difference

Corn is one of the most critical crops globally. From humans, to animals, the calories provided by these golden kernels make life-changing differences around the world. MAS Seeds¬® has researched this crop for more than six decades and this means they’re poised to bring new, better products to market today faster than ever before.

In 1949, farmers in southwest France, through their cooperative, started producing corn seeds to have more control over the seed options coming to their farm and wanted eventually create solutions tailored to their field and soil needs. For a little over a decade, the group mastered seed production and finally in 1962 broke ground on its first Research and Development and started breeding corn hybrids.

Over the past 60 years, the company has continued to develop its research capabilities by adding sunflower research, expanding to nearly every continent and expanding their corn genetics and breeding programs. In 2018 the company rebranded to MAS Seeds to better address the global nature of their offering and the variety of programs it provides.

Today, MAS Seeds¨ is operating in Europe, West Africa, Asia and the Americas with the same focus today as it had before: Help farmers maximize their output, sustainably. Their long history in corn breeding sets them apart globally to help provide farmers with products suited for their fields

“MAS Seeds¬® will continue to be an important player in the Corn seed industry,” Benoèt Pétiard, head of R&D at MAS Seeds¬® “To do so, we will have to take new challenges, to pick up our battles but always keeping our farmer centricity to develop the best R&D strategy.”


Sixty years of research and germplasm improvement in one crop has created efficiencies, understanding and expertise for breeders, ultimately benefitting farmers.

“The goals we have might be similar to 60 years ago, but the work has completely changed,” says Colin Guillaume, MAS Seeds¬® head of corn breeding. “We went from entirely phenotypic selection to a more technological selection. We have so much more data than we did in the past, genotype and environment data, that helps breeders as they make decisions that help farmers.”

For breeders, the overall job remains the same: select the best parent lines and hybrids to move through the program and into farmer fields. Look for higher yields, better defense packages and improve nutrient and water efficiency to bolster overall production.

In the early 2000s, MAS Seeds¨ expanded greatly into eastern and central Europe, adding research centers in Romania, Poland, Ukraine and Russia at that time. In April 2019, a short three years ago, the company bought a tropical breeding program and expanded its breeding capabilities into South America, Asia and West Africa.

The company continues to invest in research, too. Since 2000 to today, MAS has tripled the number of employees working in research and development.


After gathering six decades of data on a single crop, MAS Seeds¨ knows a lot about the genetic potential of this crop. Combine the 60 years of data with thousands of annual research trials, and the data behind each corn hybrid the team brings to market is incredible.

Sixty years is a lot of information and a lot of genetic gain and genetic diversity to review. “This genetic diversity we have created is huge and provides us with a gemplasm pool unlike any other,” Guillaume says. “It really helps us to design and develop products that fit the need of the final users”.

“Our breeding programs shorten the time to deliver Genetic Gain, shorten the time means making decisions based on stronger data acquisition and integration, in much bigger quantity and much better accuracy, says Pétiard. “With this larger dataset, it will allow us to develop more resilient products and then contributing actively to the collective effort to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.”

Because of the long history of corn breeding at MAS Seeds¨, the team can use data to predict outcomes in the crop to help bring solutions to farmers. This creates improved decision making at each step in the breeding process, which ultimately means farmers gain access to better products, faster.

“Whether it’s addressing the challenge of Climate Change, input optimization, a troubling disease or any other problem farmers face, the key message is this: MAS Seeds¬® really wants to support the farmer and find solutions that support farmers,” Guillaume says. Today, developing WATERLOCK and GREEN+ corn hybrids are the best examples of genetic innovations MAS Seeds¬® can bring to farmers to tackle the climate challenges.