The Need for Seed

October 23, 2015

Seed Companies Focus on Technology, Farmer Options

When it comes to picking the right soybean seed for their land, farmers have a seemingly endless array of choices. It’s an annual process to match soybean varieties to farmers’ management style and the weed and disease pressures they face without sacrificing yields.

Soybean Seed South Dakota Soybean

Photo: United Soybean Board

Because conditions vary widely across South Dakota, seed companies also have their hands full doing research on high-performing varieties that meet farmer needs. New technologies and seed traits expand the list of offerings, but the overall goal remains the same.

“There isn’t a technology out there, other than bottom-line genetics, that adds yield,” says Alan Scott, technical product manager for DuPont Pioneer. “Everything else that we do is about protecting yields. We put these technologies in to help farmers manage their acres.”

Scott says DuPont Pioneer advanced 10 new products last year for South Dakota farmers. For 2016, DuPont Pioneer will offer glyphosate-tolerant varieties, as well as Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans. Pending Chinese trait approval, DuPont Pioneer will also offer Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in group 0 to group 3 maturities.

“Whether it’s for this year or three to five years out, we plan on offering options for farmers,” Scott adds. “From glyphosate resistance, Roundup Ready 2 Yield, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend or non-GMO varieties, we plan to offer options for whatever is best for their farms.”

Joe Schefers, regional agronomy lead for Monsanto, says the company’s leading new product for 2016, pending regulatory and export approvals, is Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans. This new technology provides tolerance to both dicamba and glyphosate herbicides and gives farmers options for difficult and resistant weeds. Once approved, it will be the first biotech soybean product with tolerance to both glyphosate and dicamba herbicides.

“The introductory launch will be the largest launch of any soybean trait in the history of our company,” Schefers says. “It has the potential to be a widely successful tool for soybean farmers.”

Schefers says because not all the approvals necessary to launch the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend trait have been obtained, efforts this summer and fall are dedicated to education. Seed is being grown this summer to ensure a supply is ready for farmers to plant in 2016 if approvals are granted in time.

“We hope to launch Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans at some point later this fall,” Schefers says. “We are positioned to provide leading genetics to growers throughout all major soybean maturity groups in our region. Monsanto has licensed this new technology to most of the major soybean brands sold throughout our area.”

Madison, S.D., based Mustang Seeds features a broad range of soybean options. The company is adding three new trait offerings for 2016, the most ever. Varieties include those with strong tolerance to diseases like phytophthora and soybean cyst nematode, as well as the Roundup Ready 2 Yield and Liberty Link varieties in a range of maturities. Mustang Seeds will also have Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans available once the trait is approved.

“Offering growers many choices of trait options and non-GMO varieties is very important to our company,” says Mustang Seeds product manager Dale Nelson. “With the current commodity prices, growers are looking for other management practices and seed options.”

Nelson says many farmers have changed their chemical practices to avoid weed resistance and are putting down pre- and post-emergence herbicides to fight tough weed species. Some farmers are moving to conventional soybeans to reduce seed costs, but they’re also finding markets that pay premiums for conventional soybeans.

Because so many seed options and technologies exist, farmers are encouraged to work with their seed dealers to determine the best options.