Archive for the ‘Syngenta’ 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


Monsanto Buys Westbred LLC

July 16, 2009

With this weeks announcement that Monsanto is buying Westbred LLC it is very clear that the biotech industry will have a say in the future direction of the wheat breeding business. As I have mentioned on this site before, pull type traits like drought and nitrogen use efficiency will be big components of the Monsanto breeding program in all crop types and not just wheat. 

Click Here to see the comments to me from @MonsantoCo regarding the focus

With the recent push for biotech wheat by the biotech wheat coalition and this announcement, you can ultimately expect all of the biotech industry to heavily invest in wheat breeding over the next twenty years. With Syngenta, Dow Agro, and Monsanto all involved in wheat breeding the objective will be increased value creation for the whole value chain. After attending the CSTA summer meeting this past week in Whistler, it is quite clear that the industry must invest more in wheat breeding if we are going to see some of the benefits found in other crop types.

Based on the fact biotech wheat is not accepted globally it will be interesting to see what moves these breeding programs make in the meantime in the conventional plant breeding areas. One thing is for sure the world of wheat genetics is getting very interesting and this story is not quite over yet. More to come definitely.

Richard Phillips – Executive Director of the Grain Growers of Canada on Biotech Wheat

June 2, 2009

This afternoon I talked to Richard Phillips, Executive Director of the Grain Growers of Canada about the possible introduction of biotech wheat to the agricultural system. The Grain Growers of Canada were members of the Biotech Wheat Coalition that is trying to push the international community to support biotech wheat.

Shaun: Why is the Grain Growers of Canada supporting the idea of biotech wheat?

Phillips: A major reason is the concern that we have over the slow rate of research development in conventional wheat vareties. If you look at the other crop types that have biotech traits, they are developing nutritional, agronomic and yield benefits. If wheat stays conventional the result could be that wheat becomes a rotation filler in between cash crops for most wheat farmers.

Shaun: What are the possible resulting benefits of biotech wheat?

Phillips: We need to send a strong message to public breeding institutions, Syngenta, and small biotech firms to bring new innovations forward to the market. These innovations could include nitrogen efficiency, heat tolerance, fusarium resistance, or cold tolerance. Non-agronomic benefits are in improvements to the milling process and further benefits to the consumer. Consumer benefits include things like health traits.

I would like to thank Richard Phillips of the Grain Growers of Canada for his time and comments. Find out more about the Grain Growers of Canada.

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

Part 4 of 4 Jay Bradshaw President of Syngenta Canada – How Public Perception is Threatening Agriculture with Bill 64

March 20, 2009

In this final segment of the four part series, Jay Bradshaw discusses how the public perception of agriculture is one of Syngenta’s and farmers greatest threats. Whether you are Syngenta, Crop Life or a farmer it can be difficult to manage against the eyes of public perception. This is especially true in Ontario with Bill 64 (urban pesticide use) as people will not be able to use pesticides for home and garden use as of April 2009. The reality is that what is next? Many of these same products are used on farms and this truly feels like the “thin edge of the wedge,” as Jay describes it.
 

Part 3 of 4 Jay Bradshaw, President of Syngenta Canada – The Canadian Variety Registration System and Transgenic Wheat

March 18, 2009

This is part 3 of 4 of my interview with Syngenta Canada President, Jay Bradshaw.  In this segment Jay talks about how the variety registration system in Canada needs to be improved and how transgenic wheat will bring benefits to farmers and consumers.  Transgenic wheat is an issue that will have to eventually be dealt with.  Transgenic wheat is not all about Round up Ready or the terminator gene.  It is about being able to access technology like the fusarium resistant trait or end use traits that allow for tastier bread.

Part 2: Jay Bradshaw – Syngenta – How the Farm Customer Base is Changing and the Commodity Price Outlook

February 20, 2009

This is part two of my interview with Jay Bradshaw from Syngenta Canada. In this interview Jay discusses Syngenta’s strategy in Canada and how the decreasing amount of farmers is changing Canadian agriculture. Jay also talks about commodity prices over the last two years and what he thinks farmers can expect in the future.

Part 1 – Jay Bradshaw – Syngenta Canada – Optimism in Canadian Agriculture and Who is the Canadian Farmer

February 3, 2009

Today I had a chance to talk to Jay Bradshaw, President of Syngenta Canada in his office in Guelph, Ontario. This is part 1 of several clips that I will be posting from my interview with Jay. In this clip, I asked Jay if there was reason for Canadian farmers to be optimistic in 2009 based on what is in the news regarding the economy and the volatility of 2008. We also discussed the characteristics of the Canadian farmer and what advantages that provides Canadian agriculture in general.

Jay has been in the leadership position at Syngenta Canada for 7 years and has increased the Canadian business significantly over that period of time. The full interview will be posted in two weeks when I return from Chile.