Monsanto Co. has opened its newest corn breeding facility today in Othello, WA, reinforcing the company’s commitment to bring better corn technology to farmers.
The new 15,000 square-foot facility, which employs five full-time and approximately 100 part-time and seasonal workers, is the first of its kind for Monsanto in the United States. The breeding station will be devoted exclusively to using double haploid advanced breeding technology to help Monsanto’s breeders provide better corn seeds for farmers. Within the next 10 years, about 50 percent of new corn lines in North America will have gone through Othello.
“Monsanto researchers strive to bring farmers the best possible product for their fields and help improve on-farm productivity,” said Eathington. “The Othello corn breeding station is an integral part of the mission, complementing Monsanto’s global breeding program and joining a network of more than 50 corn breeding stations located around the world.”
In corn breeding, top-performing hybrid corn seed is developed by crossing – or breeding together – two genetically pure corn plants, which are called inbreds. The double haploid process is used to improve plant-breeding effectiveness by generating instant inbred lines. Using double haploids helps Monsanto advance its corn breeding pipeline by decreasing the number of developmental generations required to produce inbred lines. This gives desired results in about two breeding generations, where it typically would take six to eight generations.
“The double haploid technology at this site accelerates corn breeding significantly by reducing the process time to about a third or a fourth of what it took us previously,” said Sam Eathington, Monsanto vice president of global plant breeding. “As a company focused solely on agriculture, Monsanto is excited to reinvest in an important site like Othello with this advanced breeding capability.”
Monsanto corn breeding has had a presence in Othello since 2006, and the permanent structure further solidifies the company’s commitment to the Othello community.
Monsanto also has a corn manufacturing site in Othello. In addition to the two Othello sites, Monsanto also has three other sites in the state of Washington – Warden, Mount Vernon and LaConner – focused on vegetable seed manufacturing.