Crop Tech: More Seed Shifts

October 28, 2010 04:55 AM

More Seed Shifts

Dow AgroSciences is acquiring the assets of Grand Valley Hybrids, a Colorado-based company with a strong presence in the silage industry. The company will continue to operate under the Grand Valley brand while gaining access to Dow’s Silage-Specific BMR and TMF corn hybrids, as well as SmartStax and Herculex insect protection.

Grand Valley Hybrids has been growing hybrid seed corn since 1946. The company currently markets corn hybrids, alfalfa seed, forage sorghums, sudangrasses and silage and alfalfa inoculants in 12 Western states.

DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred has purchased a majority share of South Africa–based Pannar Seed Ltd., with operations throughout Africa, research and commercial activities in the U.S. and Argentina and a genetics licensing business in Europe.

Biotech rival Monsanto Company also has a major presence in South Africa, the continent’s largest pro-ducer of corn. With 75 million acres available for maize production, Africa represents both a challenge and an opportunity. Pioneer says current yields are only one-fifth of those realized in developing countries.

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Much of the green covering fields this fall is volunteer corn and winter is the only control option you need to control it.

Fall Back Fast

The early harvest may make it tempting to tackle furry fields now, but weed specialists urge you to wait a bit.

“You’ve got quite a bit of time,” says Aaron Hager, University of Illinois weed specialist. “Waiting until late October into mid-November won’t hurt a thing.”

Treat warm-season perennials before a frost. Herbicides are more effective on cool-season
perennials like dandelions after a light frost. Waiting will also allow more time for winter annuals to fully germinate and to see if treatment is really necessary.

“Check the labels: Most fall-applied herbicides have application restrictions based on calendar and soil temperature,” he adds.

“Fall application can be a useful tool, but it’s unrealistic to think you can apply all your residual herbicide in the fall with the goal of a total post program next spring. You may do a good job of controlling winter annuals like chickweed, but as a result you may open fields up to earlier emergence of summer annuals, like lambsquarters.”

Much of the green emerging across the Corn Belt is actually volunteer corn. “Frost will take care of it,” Hager says. “Every kernel germinated is one we don’t have to worry about next spring.”

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Recent progress on the effort to decode cotton’s complex genome could put the bloom back in the South’s favorite crop.

Cotton Gets Undressed

Monsanto Company and Illumina, Inc., have genetically sequenced a wild Peruvian cotton species, Gossypium raimondii. The findings may put the industry a step closer to sequencing the more elusive domesticated cotton, G. hirsutum.

The genome of American upland cotton is roughly the size of the human genome, but with four sets of chromosomes. Most organisms, including humans, have only two.

“Imagine you have four puzzles to put together in order,” says Ty Vaughn, Monsanto global cotton technology lead. “On top of that, many of the pieces are identical.”

David Stelly, a genomicist at Texas A&M University, is expected to lead the effort to utilize the
information, which will then be donated to the public. “The lack of a good public reference genome for cotton has been a serious constraint on development of cotton genomics,” Stelly says.

The goal is higher yields, better fiber quality, greater resistance to diseases and pests and meeting future needs with fewer resources.

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