Seed World

Innovating for the Future: How MAS Seeds’ Designed its New Maize and Sunflower Seed Portfolio

Seed companies face a myriad of challenges and opportunities. From adapting to climate change to meeting market demands, their journey is one of constant innovation and dedication to sustainable solutions. 

For MAS Seeds, understanding the needs of the market is paramount. With a diverse range of challenges, including climate change adaptation and disease resistance, the company’s business units work tirelessly to ensure their portfolio remains competitive and aligned with market demands.

Florence Delattre, head of the MAS Seeds maize portfolio, emphasizes the importance of consistency in the MAS Seeds 2024 offerings. 

“We are consistent in maintaining our portfolio to adapt to the latest challenges growers face,” she explains. “Our goal is to provide reliable maize hybrids with the best quality seeds, ensuring consistent yield regardless of environmental factors.”

Gabriel Magaddino, sunflower portfolio manager for MAS Seeds, highlights the importance of market specifications in their selection process for sunflower hybrids. By conducting agronomic and clinical trials tailored to specific market segments, MAS Seeds ensures their products meet the diverse needs of farmers across Europe.

“It’s imperative that our portfolio aligns with market needs. This entails a thorough understanding of existing products and their efficacy, as well as identifying areas for improvement. We strive to enhance our portfolio by introducing new, market-relevant products, and developing new innovations,” Magaddino says.

What’s Coming in Sunflower

Magaddino shares one of MAS Seeds’ recent breakthroughs: the introduction of sunflower hybrids with new traits to combat disease pressure (including black rust and broomrape). These innovations mark a significant step forward in addressing challenges faced by sunflower growers, offering them greater resilience, and reducing reliance on chemical solutions. 

Gabriel Magaddino is sunflower portfolio manager for MAS Seeds.

“One of the major hurdles in sunflower market is combating various diseases while simultaneously striving to boost farm yield. Currently, there’s a substantial disparity between the genetic potential of sunflower hybrids and the actual yield achieved on farms. In Europe, for instance, the average yield stands at 2.5 tonnes per hectare, whereas we know it’s feasible to surpass five tonnes per hectare. Bridging this gap is crucial, and we’ve been actively seeking solutions,” he says.

One such solution involves enhancing disease resistance, particularly against prevalent threats like sclerotinia and downy mildew. 

“We’ve embarked on a journey to improve the genetic potential of our sunflower hybrids while fortifying their resistance to these key diseases. This initiative led to the development of the HelioSMART portfolio, which integrates two essential elements: maximizing genetic potential under varying conditions and bolstering resistance to diseases.”

By implementing genetic solutions, MAS Seeds aims to minimize reliance on chemical treatments for disease control. This not only reduces costs for farmers but also enhances overall profitability while promoting environmentally sustainable farming practices, he adds.

“In parallel, we’re constantly exploring new avenues for innovation through our recently established R&D department. This department focuses on diversification and innovation, seeking novel cultivation methods to optimize sunflower yield. We’re experimenting with crop associations, alternative sowing dates, and innovative weed control methods to adapt to changing climate conditions and maximize crop productivity.”

What’s Coming in Corn

MAS Seeds employs a rigorous selection process for introducing new products into their portfolio. Delattre discusses how their maize advancements are based on extensive data collection, including climate data, plant morphology and genotype analysis. This data-driven approach allows them to identify the best candidates for their portfolio, ensuring resilience to stress factors like drought.

In the corn portfolio, Delattre discusses the launch of MDM 3313, a double-use hybrid with exceptional yield in both grain and silage. This innovation provides farmers with flexibility in harvesting based on weather conditions, ultimately enhancing their profitability and resilience to climate variability.

Firstly, this hybrid is what they call a “double use” hybrid. It serves two purposes — it can be used both as silage and as grain.

Florence Delattre is head of the MAS Seeds maize portfolio.

“What I find particularly appealing about this hybrid is the flexibility it offers to farmers. Imagine this: when the summer weather is on our side, we can decide to harvest the crop as grain, and that can fetch us a good price in the market,” she says. “However, if the weather turns against us, and it looks like we might face a shortage of feed for our cattle during winter, we can quickly switch gears and harvest it as silage. It’s like having a backup plan ready in case things don’t go as expected.”

This flexibility not only provides a sense of security but also opens new business opportunities. Depending on grower needs and the market conditions, they can choose to sell surplus grain or silage, maximizing profits.

“And let’s not forget about the adaptability of this hybrid to extreme weather conditions. With climate change bringing about unpredictable weather patterns, having a crop that can handle both extreme heat and dryness or optimal conditions is a real asset.”

Moreover, building a competitive portfolio involves considering hybrid reproducibility to ensure consistent seeds availability year after year, thus avoiding shortages, Delattre adds. “We also assess the potential risks and opportunities that we see coming down the road, like adapting to evolving market conditions and climate change.”

Contributing to Sustainable Agriculture

Both Delattre and Magaddino emphasize MAS Seeds’ commitment to sustainable agriculture. By developing hybrids with tolerance to stress factors like drought and disease, the company plays a crucial role in helping farmers adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Furthermore, MAS Seeds’ focus on innovation extends to cover crops and diversification strategies. Delattre explains how their portfolio includes maize hybrids optimized for early planting, allowing farmers to maximize soil fertility and improve overall crop resilience.

As MAS Seeds continues to innovate, they remain focused on anticipating future challenges and opportunities. Delattre emphasizes the importance of addressing climate change and evolving disease pressures through ongoing research and collaboration with partners.

“In 2019, we introduced WATERLOCK hybrids to highlight maize products with the best resilience to Water stress. We realized the importance of focusing on drought stress tolerance due to the frequent limitation of water supplies in real-world agricultural settings,” she says.

The introduction of sunflower hybrids with new traits to combat disease pressure (including black rust and broomrape) is a recent MAS Seeds breakthrough.

Second trait is GREEN+, to highlight silage maize varieties that provide farmers with a wider window for harvesting at the optimal time. For farmers raising cattle, timing is crucial for maximizing the potential yield and quality of forage.

“Upon identifying these resilient varieties, we developed corresponding hybrids for silage and suitable options for grain production. These hybrids showcased resilience not only to water stress but also to heat.”

MAS Seeds’ success in identifying such resilient hybrids can be attributed to the establishment of breeding stations in eastern and southern Europe over the past 15 years. This early focus allowed them to address stress tolerance criteria promptly, leading to the innovations you’ll find in the MAS Seed 2024 portfolio.

“We’ve been consistently focused on refining our portfolio to cater to the needs of our clients, particularly cattle and corn growers. Our aim is to provide reliable hybrids with the highest quality seeds, offering consistency and stability in yield regardless of changing environmental conditions. This long-term commitment to portfolio refinement has been ongoing for several years,” Delattre says.

“When selecting new candidates for the portfolio, we rely on a robust data collection process, analyzing various factors such as environmental conditions, plant phenotypes, and genotypes. Collaborating with our R&D teams and utilizing our extensive trial network allows us to identify the most promising products that meet market specifications and align with our strategic vision.”  Adds Magaddino, highlighting MAS Seeds’ efforts to expand its genetic pool and develop hybrids tailored to future climate scenarios. By staying ahead of the curve, MAS Seeds aims to empower farmers with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in an ever-changing agricultural landscape.

“We’re actively preparing for future challenges, including climate change, by expanding our research efforts and collaborating with partners to develop resilient genetic solutions,” Delattre adds.

To view the new MAS Seeds 2024 portfolio download it from the MAS Seeds website.