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People News

Bill McCutchen, associate director of Texas AgriLife Research, has been named chair of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council for 2010/11. McCutchen will lead the non-profit organization, which serves a consortium of 36 agricultural research and teaching governmental agencies, institutions and universities across the United States and Canada.

Paul Bennett has joined Verdant Partners LLC as a director. Bennett’s primary focus will be the development of new business in the fresh produce industry. In addition, Anthony (Tony) Padgett has also joined Verdant as a director and will focus on developing and executing business relationships with clients in Asia and other international locations.

The Context Network has announced two of the organization’s senior associates have become partners with the firm. Mark Nelson, who joined Context in 2001, has led and directed numerous efforts and has originated several multi-client reports. In addition, Nelson now spearheads initiatives in the fresh produce market segment. Mark Holland, who joined Context in 2006, is engaged in strategic business management directives in seed and biotechnology industries. Holland’s work includes creation and analysis of business plans and financial forecasts, debt and equity financing and contract negotiation and mediation services. Meanwhile, Ken Rinkenberger has joined the company as a senior associate. Rinkenberger has more than 35 years of experience in commercial management in the seed and agricultural chemical industries. Rinkenberger will focus his consulting efforts on commercial strategy development, people and team leadership, strategic and marketing planning and business and product management.

Legacy Seeds has appointed Jim Dassow as soybean and wheat product manager. Dassow has been in the seed industry for 40 years with various positions at Northrup King Seeds, Stauffer Seed and Kaltenberg Seed Farms, and offers a wealth of knowledge in corn, wheat and soybean genetics. Dassow will assist with Legacy’s product selections and will also assist the district sales managers with sales and marketing efforts.

GreenLeaf Genetics LLC has hired Eric Ford as director of marketing. Ford will be responsible for developing and implementing strategic marketing initiatives for the company. He will also manage marketing and promotional efforts for traits offered through GreenLeaf Genetics.

Valent U.S.A. Corporation has hired Matt Plitt as senior director of sales for its growing agricultural business unit. In his new role, Plitt will oversee the national sales direction and efforts for the company’s full portfolio of traditional and biorational agricultural crop protection products.

Advanced Biological Marketing has hired Scott Nelson as regional sales manager for the southern half of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. Nelson has extensive seed treatment knowledge from his prior experience with Bayer CropScience.

Wyffels Hybrids has added a third region to its sales structure in Illinois, further expanding the reach of its resources. This region is located in the central part of the state, serving 22 counties and 3.6 million corn acres. Stan Tarr has been named regional sales manager for this new region, supervising six of the company’s district sales managers.

The National Association of Plant Breeders has inaugurated Todd Wehner as its first president. Over 190 public and private plant breeders, government representatives and graduate students from across the United States were hosted by Pioneer Hi-Bred at the annual meeting of the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee in conjunction with the NAPB. The meeting covered research topics in plant breeding and concluded with a field tour and visit to the USDA Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa.

Richard Horsley has been appointed chair of North Dakota State University’s Plant Sciences Department. Horsley has been the NDSU six-rowed barley breeder in the Plant Sciences Department since July 1988. He also took over the two-rowed barley breeding program in 2006 after the retirement of Jerry Franckowiak. Horsley will serve as chair of the Plant Sciences Department for a term of 12 to 18 months.

Product News

New bean germplasm lines containing heat, drought and disease tolerance are being released by Agricultural Research Service scientists and cooperators. ARS geneticist Tim Porch, with the agency’s research station in Puerto Rico, has released two new kidney bean germplasm lines, TARS HT-1 and TARS HT-2, which are tolerant to high temperatures. The new germplasm lines can improve yields under hot summer conditions for farmers in regions prone to high temperature stress. They can also be used to improve heat tolerance in other large-seeded beans through breeding and selection.

Syngenta Seeds Inc. has unveiled its Agrisure Artesian technology of water-optimized hybrids and the newest addition to the Agrisure family of trait products. Agrisure Artesian technology enables corn plants to use available moisture more efficiently, resulting in higher yields on drought-stressed acres including dryland and limited-irrigation farms in the western Corn Belt. Growers on rain-fed acres in the central and eastern Corn Belt likewise can use Agrisure Artesian technology to help stabilize yields in years of inconsistent rainfall or in fields with variable soil types and moisture-holding capacity. Syngenta is also developing a complimentary water-optimized hybrid product utilizing a genetically modified trait. These hybrids are anticipated to be available post-2015, pending receipt of all regulatory and key import market approvals.

Syngenta Seedcare has announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Avicta 500 FS nematicide for use on soybeans. Avicta will be available to soybean growers in combination with separately-registered Cruiser seed treatment insecticide and an ApronMaxxseed treatment fungicide as Avicta Complete Beans. Avicta seed treatment nematicide provides immediate protection against all major non-cyst forming nematode species, including root-knot, reniform, stubby-root, lance, stunt and sting nematodes.

Chemtura AgroSolutions has introduced an innovative line of Rancona seed treatments to winter wheat growers. The recent registration of Rancona in the United States gives growers access to the most advanced generation of seed treatment technology and one of the broadest-spectrum fungicide seed protectants available. Rancona ready-to-use products are field-proven to promote uniform emergence, stan
d establishment, overall plant health and maximum yields.

Syngenta has unveiled its refuge-reduction strategy that will deliver growers a single bag, multiple mode-of-action refuge solution that provides convenience and increased insect resistance management while recapturing lost yield from refuge acres. The insect control and refuge solutions are based on Vip3A, the breakthrough new mode of action which powers the new Agrisure Viptera trait. Vip3A is the industry‘s first Vegetative Insecticidal Protein in corn, and is the biggest development to positively affect insect control and resistance management since the introduction of the European corn borer insect control trait. Thanks to Vip3A, the Agrisure Viptera trait provides the broadest spectrum of above-ground insect control available. Both the Agrisure Viptera 3111 trait stack and the Agrisure Viptera 3110 trait stack have received Environmental Protection Agency approval for a 20 percent nationwide refuge. This is a reduction from the 50 percent refuge traditionally required in Southern cotton growing areas.

Business News

Incotec has acquired the remaining 51 percent of SeedGard shares from the Lantmannen Group. In doing so, Incotec has gained full ownership of SeedGard and the company’s patented seed disinfection method ThermoSeed. The technology uses hot humid air to disinfect seeds and to free seeds from all kinds of seed-transmitted diseases. With the full acquisition, Incotec will pursue a global role for the ThermoSeed disinfection technology, which is a valuable tool in achieving sustainable agriculture. 

BASF and Monsanto Company are expanding their joint efforts to develop higher-yielding and stress-tolerant crops to include wheat. The original collaboration established in 2007 included corn, soy, cotton and canola, with a joint dedicated budget of potentially US$1.5 billion. The new agreement will result in a potential additional investment of more than $1 billion over the life of the collaboration. The partners will focus on developing biotech products for the North American and Australian markets. The first enhanced-yielding wheat product is expected to reach the market after 2020. Around 2012, the companies expect to introduce the world’s first genetically modified drought-tolerant corn, pending regulatory approvals.

Syngenta and Bayer CropScience have entered into a long-term business agreement relating to a key plant biotechnology trait. Under the agreement, Syngenta has granted Bayer a worldwide, non-exclusive license for use of VIPCOT insect control technology in cotton. The VIPCOT technology expresses two insecticidal proteins that are highly effective against a number of important cotton pests, including cotton bollworm and tobacco budworm.

Blackstreet Capital, a company in Maryland that focuses on underperforming companies, has agreed to pay $12.8 million to buy South Carolina’s Park Seed Company. Blackstreet has promised to keep the company’s roughly 200 permanent employees on the payroll for at least three years—if it doesn’t, it will have to pay $1.5 million in penalties split between the estate of company founder George W. Park, the state and the county.

Miller Hybrids Inc. is currently building a new headquarters one mile west of Kalona, Iowa. This new building is set to be completed sometime this month. It includes offices, sales meeting space, a research work area, climate-controlled storage and a warehouse capable of storing 270 pallets or boxes of corn. According to the company, due to customer satisfaction with its unique corn product line and personal service, the company has experienced double-digit percentage growth in retail sales units each year since opening in 2005.

Novozymes A/S has acquired Turfal, a Brazilian producer of micro-organisms and supplier of sustainable solutions to the agriculture industry. Turfal’s inoculant products are microbes that stimulate the growth of crops, especially soybean, by fixating nitrogen. In this way, they enable farmers to reduce their use of fertilizers and save money while benefiting the environment.

Bayer CropScience LP and Monsanto Company have entered into an exclusive agreement on the use of Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment. Offered exclusively with Acceleron seed treatment products for corn, Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment from Bayer combines the corn seed-applied insecticide with a new living-barrier approach to nematode protection. New Poncho/VOTiVO provides a biological mode of action that introduces a revolutionary way to protect corn seedlings and roots against nematodes. It contains bacteria that live and grow with young corn roots, protecting against a broad range of nematodes that feed on corn.

Ensign-Bickford Industries Inc. subsidiary, EB Analytics Inc., has acquired EnviroLogix Inc., a developer and manufacturer of rapid QuickStix and QuickScan agricultural test kits and readers. “The combination of EBI’s capital strength, long history of operational excellence and tradition of dedicated customer focus, coupled with the outstanding talent and technologies we see in EnviroLogix, makes this a very compelling platform for profitable growth,” says Caleb White, chief executive officer of EBI.

Industry News

New research by UC Davis wheat geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky and his colleagues could lead to new strategies for improving freezing tolerance in wheat. The new findings, published in the online journal Plant Physiology, shed light on the connection between flowering and freezing tolerance in wheat. In winter wheat and barley varieties, long exposures to non-freezing cold temperatures accelerate flowering time in a process known as vernalization. These exposures also prepare the wheat to better tolerate freezing, a process known as cold acclimation. The new study demonstrated when the main vernalization gene, VRN1, is expressed in the leaves,initiating a process that leads to decreased expression of the freezing tolerance genes.

Scientists at the University of Arkansas and their colleagues have found populations of wild plants with genes from genetically modified canola in the United States. These findings raise questions about the regulation of herbicide resistant weeds and how these plants might compete with others in the wild. “We really don’t know the consequences of the gene escape,” says graduate student Meredith Schafer. The research originated when Schafer and Cynthia Sagers, professor of biological sciences at the U of A, spotted some yellow flowers in a ditch in North Dakota. They found wild canola in about 46% of the sites along the highway. About 83% of the weedy canola they tested contained transgenic material, that is, they contained herbicide resistance genes from genetically modified canola. Further, some of the plants contained resistance to both herbicides, a combination of transgenic traits that had not been developed in canola crops.

The discovery by scientists at the University of York of a vital feature of a plant’s temperature sensing and growth mechanism could help to increa
se yields from crops. Researchers in the university’s Centre for Novel Agricultural Products have found a gene that plays a significant role in the growth rate of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The study published in the latest issue of Current Biology reveals that plants without the SPT gene grow at a faster rate at lower temperatures, but have the same tolerance to freezing as plants that have the gene. The research also shows that daytime temperatures have a particular influence on plant growth and that the SPT gene allows plants to measure temperature in the morning.

The Association of Official Seed Certifying Agenciesheld its 92nd annual meeting in August 2010. Representatives of seed certifying agencies from the United States, Canada, Argentina and Chile attended the meeting. The meeting consisted of general sessions for delegates, commodity committee meetings and seminars featuring speakers dealing with innovative approaches to seed industry programs and new testing technologies. The AOSCA board of directors met during the event and elected Robert Stewart of the California Crop Improvement Association as president and Robert Tarrant of the Texas Department of Agriculture as vice president for the coming year. The AOSCA Certifications Requirements and Standards Council met to consider a number of changes to AOSCA standards. Mike Moore of the Wyoming Seed Certification Service was elected to serve as the chairman of the council for the coming year. The Missouri Crop Improvement Association will serve as the host of the 2011 annual meeting in St. Louis, Mo.

A new Iowa State University study has found that corn bred to contain increased levels of beta-carotene is a good source of vitamin A. The discovery gives added support to the promise of biofortified corn being developed through conventional plant breeding as an effective tool to combat vitamin A deficiency in developing countries. Beta-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A. The researchers found that the beta-carotene in the corn was converted to vitamin A at a higher rate than what’s predicted for corn, and higher than the rate for beta-carotene in vegetables, including spinach and carrots, among others. Wendy White, an ISU associate professor of food science and human nutrition, led the six-week study conducted at Iowa State’s Nutrition and Wellness Research Center. The results validate the promise of “orange” maize that will soon be released to combat vitamin A deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a 2009 World health Organization estimate, vitamin A is deficient in more than half of the world’s countries.

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