SYNGENTA: THE VALUE OF GENETIC PURITY WHEN SELECTING WHEAT VARIETIES
Jun. 25, 2012
Source: Syngenta news release
By 2050, the world population is expected to exceed 9 billion people, and the global demand for food is projected to be 70 percent higher than it is today, involving an additional consumption of nearly 1 billion tons of cereals for food and feed1. Growers around the world and the ag industry as a whole have taken great strides in the quest to decrease the gap between food supply and demand by producing higher-yielding crops with fewer resources and shrinking acreage. Syngenta has played a fundamental role in fulfilling this mission by providing growers with integrated, total crop solutions, beginning with top-quality, high-yielding, certified wheat varieties.
"Syngenta has committed years of extensive research and millions of dollars, as well as established collaborative public and private partnerships, to ensure we are addressing food security challenges and increasing supply demands," said Rollie Sears, Senior Science and Technology Fellow, Syngenta. "We've worked to establish North America's leading cereals genetic research program, where the production of high-quality, certified wheat seed is a top priority. Through investments in wheat innovation, including top-notch variety development programs, germplasm and breeding expertise, Syngenta is creating technology platforms that will increase wheat productivity for growers worldwide, and help ensure wheat remains an important stable crop."
To help fulfill this mission, Syngenta wheat breeders work closely with a broad network of seed associates, the AgriPro® Associate Network, throughout the U.S. to develop quality, certified wheat seed varieties that address an array of local weather-, pest- and other stress-related challenges that could impact wheat development. Still, bin-run seed, or seed that has not been cleaned and/or left untreated, is often saved for replanting. So, what exactly are the advantages of planting certified wheat seed varieties as opposed to bin-run, saved seed, and why should growers pay close attention to the differences?
The Value of Genetic Purity
Research has shown that certified seed varieties consistently outperform saved seed in yield, quality and test weight. However, many farmers purchase certified seed for planting, and then save harvested seed for two or more consecutive years before buying fresh seed. The challenge with this method is that the further removed saved seed is from the original certified seed variety, the greater the risks of varietal impurity, poor seed germination, diseased seed, as well as volunteer crops and weeds. Addressing these added challenges in-season could easily offset economies gained from planting saved seed.
"Certified seed provides a source to growers that has gone through the rigors of the certification process, clean production fields, inspections for varietal purity and germination viability, and is free of weeds and other contaminants," said John Moffatt, Pacific Northwest (PNW) wheat breeder, Syngenta. "Usually, seed houses run their harvested seed crop over cleaners and gravity tables selecting for the largest, heaviest kernels, which typically contribute to more vigorous plants that can emerge faster and better handle early-season stresses," Moffatt added. "All AgriPro brand wheat varieties are protected under the Plant Variety Protection Act [gives plant breeders the right to protect their non-hybrid varieties] and are Title V, which means they can only be legally sold as certified seed."
With AgriPro brand certified wheat seed, growers know what they're getting - new and improved varieties that offer high yield potential, good test weights, superior grain via advanced breeding technologies and consistency in quality under a wide range of growing conditions.
"When a grower purchases certified seed, it comes with the guarantee that the seed is true to type, as opposed to bin-run seed, which can perpetuate volunteer crops, noxious weeds and various diseases," said Arron Carter, assistant professor and scientist of winter wheat breeding at Washington State University. "Growers who make the decision to purchase and plant certified seed should know they are supporting a healthy seed industry, while planting the best seed available."
Producers who invest in certified seed not only take advantage of new advancements in seed technology, but they also guarantee themselves less risk of seedborne and soilborne disease infections and low germination rates. The resulting investment helps increase yield and profit potential, and more and more growers are beginning to recognize that enhancement. "Approximately 85 to 90 percent of wheat growers in the PNW invest in certified seed. At the end of the day, it's only about an extra dollar per acre and considered a strategic part of their overall business plan," Carter added.
Commitment to Cereals
Syngenta believes in using the tools of modern biotechnology to develop native - and eventually - GM traits to sustainably increase wheat productivity. An intensive process from start to finish, variety development and improvement takes years to perfect. "There is typically about an 8 to 10 year period before a variety is completed and released," explained Carter. The results, however, dramatically change farming and increase crop efficiency and output, especially in comparison to saved seed, which loses vigor and dependability with each passing season.
"As wheat breeders and researchers, our goal is to work on combining the best genetics to ensure a profitable and sustainable crop for wheat growers," Carter said. "That includes developing varieties that have high protein content and yield potential, as well as meet certified seed standards."
In addition to developing top-performing wheat varieties, Syngenta works to ensure they are providing growers with total crop solutions. "It's important for wheat growers to realize the differences between certified seed and saved seed, as well as ensure they are implementing an integrated approach to crop management," said Jon Rich, High Plains wheat breeder, Syngenta. "For example, the frequency at which fields are scouted, tillage practices and seed treatment products used all have an impact on yield potential. Syngenta offers seed treatments that are applied on farm like CruiserMaxx® Cereals insecticide/fungicide combination, or commercially-applied like Cruiser® insecticide and Dividend Extreme® fungicide to help protect the crop from seedborne and soilborne diseases and insects, and these products are complementary to the disease and insect resistance packages offered by AgriPro brand certified wheat seed varieties."
Through breeding top-performing varieties and offering growers integrated crop solutions that further increase productivity, Syngenta has solidified its position as an innovator in the cereals industry. Syngenta wheat breeders have been working to perfect the doubled haploid process, which has been around more than 20 years, enabling our experts to make specific combinations in seed technology and select for those combinations in far less time than used in conventional methods. The more efficient use of this technology, in conjunction with marker-assisted selection, has resulted in single plants with multiple traits and greater vigor. And that means great advancements in the wheat market and industry. SY Ovation, available for planting in 2012, will be the first commercially available wheat variety in the Pacific Northwest developed using doubled-haploid technology.
"By using genetic markers to understand the versions of specific genes in plants, our wheat breeders can better predict trait performance during the early stages of development," explained Simon Phillips, crop product lead, cereals genetics, Syngenta. "This allows Syngenta to release the specific product with desired native traits and to significantly enhance the productivity of all our breeding efforts at a faster pace. The advantages of new seed technologies not only help with changing climates and disease and insect resistance, but will ultimately help in overcoming global wheat-growing challenges."