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

ABM sign
Crop InputsAdvanced Biological Marketing Awarded Competitive Grant from the National Science Foundation
July 13, 2017
Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to conduct Read More
Corn Field
Seed/BiotechCorn Insect Bt Technologies Offer Cost-effective, Proactive Protection
June 26, 2017
When farm economics are challenging, farmers look for ways to bolster profit margins, including reducing input costs. Some may think Read More
Seed/BiotechDow AgroSciences Announces Launch of Enlist Corn for 2018 Planting
June 14, 2017
Enlist corn will be commercially available in the U.S. for the 2018 growing season. Dow AgroSciences announced the launch today Read More
Soybean Closeup
Seed/BiotechEAG Laboratories Licensing Dow AgroSciences’ Plextein Technology
June 7, 2017
Time is money in the highly regulated world of agricultural biotechnology, and the ability to quickly quantitate endogenous allergens is Read More
Trending Articles
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an American Pastime
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application Parameters
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Responds to Arkansas, Missouri Dicamba Bans
July 10, 2017
Monsanto, provider of the dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready Xtend crop system for soybeans and cotton, issued the following statement on Friday, Read More
Retail FacilitiesPCS-Hammond Meets Fertilizer Storage Needs with New Dome Facility
July 8, 2017
The new barrel dome facility at the PCS-Hammond Regional Distribution Center in Hammond, IN, can hold more than 100,000 tons Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Latest News
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Proble…
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application…
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More