, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor
Growers have been anxiously waiting for GAT, the glyphosate and ALS herbicide tolerance corn and soybean technology coming from DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred. They'll have to wait a little longer.
The company recently announced that their Optimum GAT trait will be delayed in both corn and soybeans. Optimum GAT corn, the first up for commercialization, was expected to have controlled releases in 2010 and 2011. "We are not shelving the technology,” says Jerry Harrington, Pioneer communications director. "We will continue to work on the trait within corn hybrids so it will result in products that meet the standards we've set for commercial introduction.”
Pioneer maintains strict performance standards when it comes to performance in yield, disease protection, stress tolerance, as well as many other production related characteristics. A company news release states that based on comprehensive harvest results, the current version of the trait in corn, "does not meet Pioneer's high yield standards. Pioneer will intensify its ongoing research efforts along multiple pathways for the corn trait and work toward commercialization in the middle of the next decade.”
Optimum GAT soybeans are another story. The company maintains that they have shown outstanding glyphosate and ALS herbicide tolerance efficacy and strong multi-year yield results. The Pioneer news release maintains the pre-commercial Optimum GAT soybean varieties repeated a 6% yield advantage on average when compared to current industry leading Pioneer varieties.
The new timeline for Optimum GAT soybeans pegs commercialization expectations around 2013 to 2014, about two to three years later than the anticipated 2011 introduction. The company cites changes in regulatory policy in key import markets and increasing complexity in managing grain stewardship as the main reason behind the soybean delay. Pioneer has already received regulatory approval in the U.S. and Canada for the GAT soybean technology. However, the company is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Monsanto over the glyphosate component of the technology.
"Our continued confidence in the Optimum GAT trait is supported by significant data. Over the past several years, we have gained additional knowledge about the Optimum GAT trait and we keep making progress on a number of fronts,” says Paul E. Schickler, Pioneer President. "Importantly, we already have a full lineup of herbicide tolerant corn and soybean products to meet customer needs now and in the future.”
DuPont was poised to launch four new complimentary ALS herbicides with the new trait. Those products would be helpful as farmers manage resistant weed populations and desire more application flexibility. These introductions continue to move forward toward registration, according to DuPont.
Optimum brand is an umbrella name used by Pioneer to identify their latest input traits for growers. Optimum AcreMax 1, a new insect protection trait that fulfills the rootworm refuge requirement within the bag awaits EPA registration, but remains on track for 2010 release.
For more information about Optimum Brand Innovations go to www.pioneer.com