Seed World

Benson Hill and Brownseed Genetics Partner to Expand Corn Hybrid Choices

Benson Hill Biosystems has entered into a partnership with Brownseed Genetics, a Wisconsin-based seed breeder of new corn hybrids that are higher in both oil content and essential amino acids.

The new Brownseed hybrids have been developed through conventional breeding methods and offer significant added value for growers, livestock, and ethanol and biodiesel producers. The hybrids yield about 9% corn oil — nearly triple the normal production — and are rich in the amino acids lysine and methionine.

“Brownseed’s focus on varieties with both quality and productivity benefits can generate greater profitability for growers, livestock producers, and the ethanol industry,” says Matt Crisp, CEO and co-founder of Benson Hill. “Together, through this partnership, we will broaden the Brownseed portfolio so these hybrids can be grown across the Corn Belt.”

“For a small, family-owned company like ours to have access to the powerful technologies that Benson Hill offers would have been unthinkable only a few years ago,” says Charles Brown, CEO of Brownseed Genetics. “These advanced capabilities in predictive breeding and gene editing would have been available only to very large players in the seed industry, I’m pleased that Benson Hill is working with partners like us, across the food chain, regardless of size.”

Because of their higher calorie and nutrient content, Brownseed hybrids already enjoy steady growth in the livestock industry, especially for swine and poultry, Brown noted. Now, with its E+ hybrid, the company is taking aim at the corn-to-ethanol industry.

After four encouraging trial runs of E+ corn in research and commercial-scale ethanol plants, he said, the company plans a major planting in 2020. Most ethanol plants require only limited modifications in their line process to accommodate the hybrid, he added.

Corn oil, used for cooking and biodiesel fuel, and distillers grains, used for animal feed, are both by-products of the corn-to-ethanol process. A hybrid that yields more oil and more nutritious distillers grains stands to offer significant financial benefit to the corn-to-ethanol industry with positive ramifications up and down the supply chain.

Benson Hill’s CropOS enables researchers to quickly predict, select and secure desirable traits, bypassing generations of experimentation to bring crop and ingredient improvements to market faster. The technology dramatically shrinks both timelines and costs.