Seed Companies Pursue ‘Reduced Refuge’ Corn Market

by DAN PILLER, DesMoinesRegister.com

After the big seed companies like Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto take down their tents and displays at the Farm Progress Show, their marketing and agronomy people will fan out throughout the Corn Belt to begin a hotly contested battle for the “reduced refuge” corn seed market.

Monsanto — through its DeKalb, Kruger’s, Holden’s, and Fontanelle subsidiaries — was in the market last growing season with its new SmartStax corn.

The product allowed farmers to reduce the government-required refuge for pests from the 20 percent of a field’s acreage that has been standard since the dawn of the biotech era in the mid-1990s, to 5 percent.

Pioneer is taking the battle a step forward with its new Acremax, a “refuge in a bag” seed that will allow farmers to do away with refuge entirely for rootworm. They’ll still need a 20 percent refuge for corn borers, but since borers can fly the refuge can be up to one-half mile away.

The idea is to enable farmers to break what is an irritating necessity to climb down from the tractor at planting time and change from biotech to non-biotech seeds for certain parts of their fields. Refuges are required so that pests can migrate to the refuges rather than mutate into new forms that resist insecticides and pest-resistance genetic traits in seeds.

“This gets to the heart of the argument about why we need to have refuges and protect against new strains of pests,” says Brent Wilson, who oversees sales for Pioneer in Iowa and Missouri.

While the advertising hits the airwaves, Web sites and printed pages beginning later this week, the big question will be what resistance farmers may put up to spending more money for the next generation of seeds at a time when corn yields are at an all-time high.

Monsanto hopes to have its own refuge in a bag ready for next year’s seed-selling season, pending federal regulatory approval.

Monsanto learned a hard lesson last year when it put SmartStax on the market priced about $60 per bag above its previous best lines of hybrid seed.

That put the prices of some bags at more than $400.

Sales were disappointing, and Monsanto was obliged to cut prices on SmartStax.

“We got some tough feedback from growers,” says Monsanto vice president Robert Fraley. “SmartStax was the largest single launch in seed history. It didn’t quite turn out the way we’d hoped.”

But Fraley added: “We aren’t giving up. SmartStax is a tremendous product. The price premiums will be lower this year, and we will put more agronomists on the ground to help growers.”

Pioneer lost its longtime market share lead in corn sales to Monsanto when that company took the lead in biotech in the 1990s. Pioneer officials didn’t crow about Monsanto’s problems last spring but carefully took note of what happened in the marketplace.

“Our premium pricing for Acremax definitely will be small, probably in the single digits,” says Pioneer vice president Bill Belzer, who has overseen the development of Acremax.

In the past two years, Pioneer has reversed a decade of declining market share, and at the end of the last sales season, the Johnston company was able to boast that it had moved to within 2 percentage points of Monsanto’s industry-leading 36 percent share.

“This is an exciting time for seed sales,” Belzer says. “Every acre is up for grabs every year.”

(Source: DesMoinesRegister.com)

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic Analysis Technology
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Advances New Microbial Solutions For Agriculture
January 5, 2017
The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto’s and Novozymes’ collaboration to improve crop harvests through products containing naturally-occurring microbes, has announced results from Read More
Seedling Closeup
Seed/BiotechExceed The Seed Symposium Lauded For Engaging Speakers, New Seed Technology Insight
December 21, 2016
The 2016 Exceed the Seed Symposium offered attendees exclusive knowledge of developing trends in seed treatment and novel technologies to Read More
Soybeans closeup
Seed/BiotechUnderstanding Inoculation Techniques For Legumes
December 20, 2016
Inoculum is not magic dust — it contains bacteria that must be kept alive. According to Penn State Extension, all packages Read More
Trending Articles
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
Latest News
Young Corn Plants
ManagementTimac Agro USA Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
January 20, 2017
Timac Agro USA, an agriculture supply company specializing in high-efficiency plant and animal nutrition products, has acquired St. Louis,MI-based A&E Ag, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsNufarm Teams Up With John Deere Financial
January 19, 2017
Nufarm and John Deere Financial have teamed up to help farmers grow a better tomorrow. This program helps make purchases Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationTrump Formally Picks Perdue As Agriculture Secretary
January 19, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump officially announced Sonny Perdue as his choice for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, selecting a former Read More
ManagementPresident Trump, Wisconsin Review, and a Dow-DuPont Upd…
January 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj reflect on a new administration, a recent winter show, and crop protection company mergers. Read More
Industry NewsBayer, MS Technologies Get China Approval For Balance G…
January 18, 2017
MS Technologies and Bayer have received import approval from China for Balance GT soybeans. The new Balance GT Soybean Performance Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Industry NewsReport: Monsanto, Bayer CEOs Among Latest to Make Trump…
January 18, 2017
The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto, Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesStudy: Focusing On Weed Seedbank Can Help Manage Herbic…
January 18, 2017
Researchers writing in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science provide important insights on the control of herbicide-resistant giant Read More
Management3 Financial Trends To Watch In Agriculture
January 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of credit managers for Midwest ag supply and input companies, in part Read More
Andersons Retail Store
CropLife 100The Andersons To Close All Retail Stores; Shutdown Does…
January 16, 2017
In a stunning announcement to the Toledo area, The Andersons Inc. said on Sunday that it would close its two Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 16, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More
AGCO Custom applicator
SprayersAGCO, Asmark Institute To Offer Training For Beginning …
January 11, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute are collaborating to offer a new training program dedicated to educating and developing custom Read More