Brilliant Beans

December 21, 2008 06:00 PM

Pam Smith, Farm Journal Crops & Issues Editor
At first, I thought it might be the lights—or my aging eyes. But it's hard to brush off the brilliance of billions of orange colored soybeans.
I'm touring the latest in seed conditioning and bagging plants—Monsanto's Mason City, Ill., soybean processing facility. The plant is dedicated to handling the new Asgrow brand Roundup Ready 2 Yield (RR2Y) soybean products.
I watch as plump, yellow soybeans pass through screen cleaners and color sorters. They wiggle over gravity tables and get primped like they are going to prom. The finishing touch is a coating of Monsanto's new Acceleron brand seed treatment—which contains an orange pigment. The beans head to the bagger sporting an orange shine that clearly marks them as RR2Y soybeans.
Treated seed is required to have a colorant so it doesn't get mixed in with commodity grain, says John Endsley, Mason City Seed Plant Manager. "Orange was a color that wasn't being used for any other coating,” he explains. "When launching Acceleron with RR2Y, the orange was a unique color that matched the Roundup logo and ultimately lets the grower know what he/she is getting when opening the bag of seed.” RR2Y soybeans have received regulatory approval in the U.S. and key export markets like China, but is still awaiting full acceptance by the European Union and Korea.
Of course the soybeans produced from this seed won't be orange—it is just a coating. But the Acceleron brand seed treatment will be applied to every RR2Y soybean in 2009, says Betsy Hill, Germplasm Technology Development Manager. For the coming year, it is a fungicide-based treatment only—containing the active ingredients pyraclostrobin and metalaxyl. It's designed to provide early season protection against diseases like pythium, Phytophthora, rhizoctonia and fusarium.
Acceleron seed treatment will eventually be available on soybean, corn and cotton products to protect against early season diseases, insects, nematodes and other environmental stresses.
Six new Asgrow RR2Y varieties are expected to be planted on 1 to 2 million acres next spring. The trait has been licensed to other companies, so total planted acreage may be more. For 2009, the Asgrow varieties will be available mainly in late Group II to mid-Group III varieties. A full commercial launch on 5-6 million acres nationwide is planned in 2010.
If that weren't enough excitement for one season, the RR2Y Asgrow line will feature a new packaging system for the company. Each bag of RR2Y seed, regardless of variety or seed size, will contain 140,000 orange seeds. Seed counting technology is amazingly accurate, says Endsley. "The physical size of the bag may vary, but the seed count will remain consistent,” he says. Mini-bulk units will contain the equivalent of 40 bags or a consistent 5.6 million seed.
Now that's bean counting.
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