DuPont announces that Inzen is under development and could reach farmers’ fields as early as 2016.
The first-ever native trait for sorghum is under development by the DuPont Company and could reach North American farmers’ fields as early as 2016, according to Wayne Schumacher, new technology launch manager for the company.
The trait, branded as Inzen, was first identified by sorghum breeders at Kansas State University (K-State). Inzen is a non-genetically modified (GMO) trait, meaning it will not be subject to the regulations imposed on transgenic products by USDA and unaccepted by some international communities. That presents international marketing opportunity for sorghum crops that will be grown from hybrids containing the trait.
"We expect to be able to expand our sorghum exports around the world because it contains no GMOs," Schumacher says.
Sorghum hybrids containing the trait will be commercialized by DuPont Pioneer and Advanta US.
DuPont is developing a nicosulfuron-based herbicide formulation that it is branding as Zest that farmers will use in conjunction with the Inzen-based sorghum hybrids. Nicosulfuron is an active ingredient many farmers are familiar with as it has been marketed as Accent for postemergence weed control in corn.
Schumacher says market research K-State scientists conducted indicates that the ability to control grass weeds is a significant concern that farmers have as they manage sorghum for maximum yield.
"We find that grass causes about a 20% yield loss, or 13 bushels per acre, on average in sorghum," he notes. The percentage loss is calculated based on an average U.S. sorghum yield of about 65 bu. per acre.
In addition to Zest, DuPont plans to introduce a rimsulfuron-based herbicide, LeadOff, into the sorghum market as a burndown treatment.
"Our thought is that farmers can use LeadOff as a burndown, then plant their sorghum and if grass comes up, they’ll be able to use Zest over the top," Schumacher explains.
"The other nice thing is that in sorghum country, where corn and soybeans are grown, and glyphosate is being used, moving to Zest in sorghum will help address the resistant weed issue as well," he adds.
The Inzen trait offers the potential for use in hybrids anywhere sorghum is grown.
"Our core focus is in that Nebraska-down-to-Texas corridor, and we also have done research in the Delta. The trait is adaptable to sorghum in those geographies," Schumacher says.
DuPont plans to have field trials this summer as it ramps up for commercial use, which could happen as early as 2016.
He notes that farmers might be encouraged to grow more sorghum, given its current price relative to corn.
"The basis for sorghum is 20 cents to 30 cents above corn at a number of the ports, so it’s a very viable, economic-positive crop," he says.
"We originally thought sorghum production would be around 5 million acres. But now, with the recent work of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program and the recent farm bill that’s passed, there’s a lot of great things that have happened with sorghum. Will we get back up to the 12 million acres that we once grew? We don’t know but there’s no reason we can’t."