Archive for the ‘Bayer’ Category

Why is Everyone Interested in Wheat Breeding?

September 26, 2009

As I have noted before on this site, this summer has been very interesting in terms of the changing landscape in wheat research and breeding. Monsanto, Bayer, and Syngenta are all engaged in the wheat breeding game. I have received, many emails from readers, asking the same question.

“What will this mean for my farm in the future?”

This is a great question. One can only speculate at this point but from a genetics standpoint it does really provide some interesting potential outcomes. Higher yields and lower environmental impacts are the most discussed by breeders and stakeholders. The other side of this discussion is the questions around saved seed and the possibilities of technology use agreements. In my mind if the product has benefits to the farmer, the farmer will pay for the technology. If there is no advantage then the farmer will not pay. This is simple economics and applicable in any market segment and not just agriculture. I think that it is silly for people to suggest that farmers are forced to buy hybrid seed. In my experience, farmers that have the right land and environmental conditions, demand hybrid seed. If you don’t have the proper land or conditions use choose other options.

The following video was produced by Monsanto but shows why wheat is such an important crop to farmers and seed companies.

The reality is that the future really is wide open for global wheat production. With large biotech companies now engaged the next ten years will prove to be interesting at the very least. On top of this is the huge contribution that conventional breeders will provide. Wheat is the global staple crop. There is a wheat harvest happening every month of the year somewhere in the world.

The following video with Jay Bradshaw, President of Syngenta Canada discusses why biotech wheat will have benefits and why the variety registration system is too slow to enable innovation. It was filmed in February 2009.

Please let me know what you think about the future of wheat. What kind of improvements would you like to see in wheat vareties?

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ILC 2009: Earl Geddes – VP at CWB – Wheat Breeding and the Future of Biotech Wheat

July 22, 2009

In case you have not been following the story very closely, the debate over biotech wheat is about to restart again. Cereal breeding in North America has been on the downtrend. The past three months have brought wheat breeding investments by Dow Agro, Monsanto and Bayer. These strategic moves are quite obviously being executed so that beneficial proprietary traits can be inserted into wheat genetics. As mentioned before on this site, many possibilities open up to the consumer and not just the farmer if biotech wheat is introduced. At the International Livestock Congress at the Calgary Stampede, Earl Geddes and I discussed the future direction of wheat breeding and how biotech wheat may lead us there.


Check out more International Livestock Congress content


Do You Know What Is In Your Ground?

May 15, 2009

Will spring ever come? That was definitely the question I had to ask everyone today. With the cool weather I figured it was a good day to get my agronomy staff get ready for the scouting season so we went checking some fields for weeds and we found a little bit more that what we bargained for. As far as the weeds go, they have been very slow due to the cold temperatures but underneath the ground was a different story. In the one field we found some pale western cut worms which we don’t normally see but can do a lot of damage to the crop. But the main pest we found today was wire worms. Now a lot of growers tell me that they can never find wire worms but there is a trick when looking for them. They are usually located very close to the soil surface so you don’t want to be digging, more like flicking the dirt away. They will move up and down through the soil but this time of the year I tend to find them at the soil surface. Now the adults are a creamy yellow to orange in color an around a inch long. These are the easy ones to find but the very young wire worms are the tough ones to see. They are a clear to white in color and move very quickly in the soil. Today we found 3 adults and 2 infants in a 6 inch by 6 inch square. There is no real firm threshold for wire worms but the number that is in the industry seems to be 1 worm per bait ball (most bait balls are made from oatmeal which the wire worms seem to like to eat).

So what does this all mean? Well we would normally just say that we had seed rot or disease that caused us to have a lower plant population than normal. But without taking a look we could have wire worm damage and not even realize it. Now for all of you with seed in the ground there is no option for controlling wire worms unless you used Cruiser Maxx Cereals for cereals. Cruiser Maxx Cereals is the only seed treatment registered in cereals for control of wire worms as of today. Bayer Crop Science is working on having their product Raxil W/W registered but it looks like it will not be available until next year. You are probably saying to yourself “this is great information but a little to late to help me.” With scouting for underground pest and understanding the levels we can make a sound decision for the next year. In agriculture we are famous in just saying”Well if I found them in one field they will be in all of my fields so we might as well just treat everything!” This statement can be true but with proper scouting we can identify the fields that have a problem and treat them instead of the whole farm.

Those are my thoughts,
Garth Donald C.C.A

There Will Not Be 17 Million Canola Acres In Western Canada in 2009

March 21, 2009

There is much speculation around canola acres for 2009 in Western Canada. Farmers are hesitant to order canola seed, retailers are hesitant to speculate on inventory, distributors are cautious, and seed companies will not treat on speculation just to make sure seed is available for spring. What we have here is a system that is so built on just in time inventory management that with every day that passes the opportunity for the industry to supply 16 to 17 million acres of seed becomes impossible.

What makes this year different than others is that the industry has the bare seed available to supply these records acres. The challenge is that orders are very slow as farmers have shown hesitation across the prairies in ordering canola seed. This wait and see strategy is applicable in cereals but in canola it could cause forced seed shortages to the marketplace. Canterra Seeds, Brett Young, Monsanto (Dekalb) and Pioneer do not treat their entire inventory and wait for the farmer to make up his mind. All bare canola seed is not treated until the order has been placed by the distributor who has an order from the retailer who has an order from the farmer.  The reason that no one in the chain is willing to spec on inventory to ensure that there is in season supply is because the inventory carry over penalties are very punitive. Probably the only company that treats all of its inventory every year regardless of orders is Bayer (Invigor) because they are always sold out with the exception of this year.  The only companies rumored to be up in sales versus last year at this point are Dow (Nexera) and Cargill (Victory).  

My suggestion is that if you are planning to plant canola this spring book your seed now to ensure that you have supply.  If there is going to be demand for 16 to 17 million acres it will be a good idea to have your canola seed variety ordered.  Based on the just in time system that we have created to manage inventory costs, everyday that passes without canola orders will raise the probability that canola acres will not reach 16 or 17 million acres this year because there will not be enough seed on the retailers warehouse floor.  The big variable is whether or not one of the companies places a  big bet and treats a bunch of spec seed to ensure they will be able to supply the short market in the spring.  It should be interesting.