Seed World

Industry News – January 2012



People News

S&W Seed Company has announced that Matthew Szot has been elected as the company’s senior vice president and full-time chief financial officer effective immediately. Previously, Szot served as S&W Seed’s part-time chief executive officer. Szot has over 15 years of experience in corporate accounting and finance and operational management. Since 2007, Szot has been the chief financial officer for Cardiff Partners LLC, a financial and business advisory firm that provides executive financial services to various publicly-traded and private firms.

Agronomist Brad Erker has joined the growing North American team for Limagrain Cereal Seeds, a U.S. subsidiary of the largest seed company in Europe. Erker will oversee nationwide commercial management of Limagrain Cereal Seeds wheat varieties in his role as product development manager. Erker has worked in the private and public sectors for the past 18 years, gaining experience in various agricultural areas ranging from plant genetics to seed production to sales.

Texas-based seed company Golden Acres Genetics Ltd. has hired Ramon Alvarez as seed specialist for South Texas. Alvarez will work closely with existing and prospective Golden Acres customers and resellers, providing custom seed solutions that cultivate independence and success. Ramon comes to Golden Acres from Brazos Bottom Crop Care Inc., where he spent 10 years as liquid feed manager, and seed and fertilizer sales associate.

Product News

Syngenta has announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registration of CruiserMaxx Advanced insecticide/fungicide seed treatment for use on soybeans. “CruiserMaxx Plus gave retailers in areas with high pythium and phytophthora a convenient all-in-one product that contained additional mefenoxam. CruiserMaxx Advanced goes one step further,” says Marc George, brand asset lead for Syngenta. “The additional technology in CruiserMaxx Advanced helps ensure more precise application and even better coverage of the seed to further maximize early-season insect and disease protection.” CruiserMaxx Advanced will be available for the 2012 planting season.

Seed companies can now have a postcard, or a series of postcards designed once, posted to the Ag Printers online store, and then in one function modify the text on the card for each event or offer, upload mailing lists, proof the cards and get them into the postal system. The design is customized to each seed company. There are also four postcard size options to choose from. Ag Printers has also created an alliance with Farm Market ID, a source for ag-related mailing and phone lists. Seed companies who need a prospect mailing list can simply give the geography, crop type and acreage size details to their Ag Printers salesperson, and the list will be generated through Farm Market ID and uploaded into the software.

Business News

Bayer CropScience has completed the acquisition of the oilseed rape business of the seed company Raps GbR, headquartered in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The acquisition mainly includes varieties that are already on the market, as well as the company’s breeding material, and will strengthen the oilseed rape breeding activities of Bayer CropScience. “The agreement with Raps GbR—which has more than 20 years of breeding experience, a broad portfolio of varieties and an experienced workforce—is an important step for our oilseed rape strategy,” says Bayer CropScience chief executive officer Sandra Peterson. “It will further accelerate Bayer CropScience’s entry into the European oilseed rape market.”

Eurofins MWG Operon and Integrated Genomics have announced a cooperation agreement to combine their expertise in sequencing and analysis services for microbial, fungal and algal organisms. Integrated Genomics, based in Mount Prospect, Ill., is a commercial provider of microbial bioinformatics tools and services based on the ERGO genome sequence analysis platform. Eurofins MWG Operon, based in Ebersberg, Germany, is a global provider of DNA sequencing services, DNA synthesis products and bioinformatics services for academic and industrial research. The goal of the cooperation is to provide customers with “one-stop-shopping” for complete genomics projects that deliver analysis results from the raw extracted DNA.

Makhteshim Agan Group has announced that 60 percent of its shares have been acquired by China National Agrochemical Corporation, a full subsidiary of China National Chemical Corporation. MAI has become a private company, 60 percent of which is owned by ChemChina, and 40 percent by Koor Industries Ltd., part of the largest Israeli holding company, IDB Group.

Bayer CropScience and the National Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Fundulea, Romania have signed a license agreement. With this agreement, Bayer gains access to winter wheat germplasm of NARDI. Its germplasm pool is renowned world-wide for its winter hardiness, high tolerance against drought, broad disease resistance and good milling and baking quality.

Vilmorin and KWS have joined efforts in developing genetically modified corn traits. Both parties have reached an agreement to organize this research collaboration in a 50/50 joint venture company, subject to approval by the antitrust authorities. Vilmorin and KWS will focus on gatekeeper traits that are already under development, such as herbicide and insect resistance, as well as focusing on other innovative traits that will allow each partner to commercialize proprietary GM corn seed to satisfy demands in specific key markets.

Precision Soya of Belle Plaine, Iowa broke ground in October on a new double pass reversing seed corn dryer which will increase the site’s drying capacity by 40 percent. This will allow the location to expand its seed production acres. The dryer expansion is scheduled for completion in summer 2012 to accommodate the company’s increased production for 2012 and beyond. This new expansion comes on the heels of the company’s addition of refuge-in-a-bag capabilities to its corn packaging line in September. The ability to blend RIB hybrids allows the company to continue meeting the needs of its customers in an ever-changing industry.

Industry News

Through a genome-wide association mapping of defense genes, University of California—Davis scientists have found that complex traits for plant adaption to environmental challenges are influenced by variations in thousands of genes, which are in turn affected by the plant’s growth as well as the external environment. Lead author Daniel Kliebenstein and colleagues measured glucosinolates, plant-produced insect and disease protectants, in different developmental stages of Arabidopsis thaliana and treated with or without silver nitrate to mimic environmental stress. “We showed that both external and internal environments altered the identified genes so significantly that using plant tissues from different developmental stages, or that were treated with the silver nitrate, led to the identification of very different gene sets for particular traits,” explains Kliebenstein.

DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred plans to expand its presence in central Iowa with a new research facility in Dallas Center. The new 50,000 square foot facility will help support corn breeding and product development, as well as corn and soybean product testing and characterization for farmers
in western and central Iowa, eastern Nebraska and northwest Missouri. Occupancy of the new facility is anticipated in late spring 2012.

Identification of genes responsible for key soybean traits such as nitrogen fixation and seed quality could be possible by stimulating mutation through insertion of bases. The relatively low efficiency of transformation in soybean requires the use of a transposon-tagging strategy wherein a single transformational event leads to several mutations over a number of generations. Scientist Wayne Parrott and colleagues at the University of Georgia transferred a transposon from rice to soybean, together with (mPing) the other genes needed for its transportation. Soybean plants with stable transformation were then tested for mPing transposition. Further analysis of the insertion sites revealed that the features present in rice were maintained, including transposition to unlinked sites and preference for insertion in a specific location of a gene. Therefore, mPing is an effective tool in transposon-tagging strategies for soybean.

University of California researchers will receive more than USD$6 million in funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2011 Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which is intended to enhance agricultural markets, address environmental concerns, protect plant health, provide farmers with scientifically tested production techniques and increase food safety. The California Department of Food and Agriculture identified 72 projects in the state for funding, including 30 projects led by University of California agricultural researchers. “Funding for specialty crop research is critical to California’s $37.5 billion agricultural industry, because many of the crops grown in California are considered specialty crops,” says Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.


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