Bayer CropScience, KWS SAAT To Co-Develop Herbicide-Tolerant Sugarbeet

Bayer CropScience and plant breeding company KWS SAAT AG will jointly develop and commercialize a sugarbeet that can tolerate herbicides for the global market.

The technology is based on the breeding of sugarbeet varieties that are tolerant to herbicides in the ALS-inhibitor-class with broad-spectrum weed control. Bayer says the system will be available to farmers in “some years.”

“Bayer CropScience has contributed to reliable weed control in sugarbeet with its regularly improved Betanal products for more than 40 years. But no fundamentally new herbicide active ingredient in sugar beet has come onto the market for many years, unlike in crops like wheat or corn,” says Christophe Dumont, who oversees the company’s business in soy, corn, cotton, sugarcane and sugarbeet and its herbicide portfolio. “The new system will make it possible in future to use new active ingredients in sugarbeet and control major weeds with low dose rates of product and reduced number of applications.”

Joint research on developing the system began in 2001. The new sugarbeet plants have a naturally occuring change in an enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of essential amino acids. During the development, sugarbeets with this spontaneously changed enzyme were specifically selected and used for further breeding. As such, these varieties are not a product of genetic modification, Bayer says.

“KWS has been using state-of-the-art methods to breed high-yielding varieties for a sustainable agriculture for more than 150 years. With the development of these new sugarbeet varieties, we continue our success of the last decades. We started work on this innovative system 11 years ago and it will finally be available for farmers in some years. The new technology will significantly improve the competitiveness of sugar beet and enable our customers to cultivate sugarbeets more successfully in future,” explains Dr. Peter Hofmann, head of KWS’ sugarbeet division.

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