Monsanto’s drought-tolerant corn technology has moved one step closer to commercial launch. The company has announced that the product has moved into what it calls Phase IV (pre-launch), which includes regulatory submission, seed increase and premarketing activities.

“The advancement of our drought-tolerant corn into Phase 4 is one of our most significant research and development milestones,” says Steve Padgette, biotechnology lead for Monsanto.

Monsanto also has submitted the product to the Food and Drug Administration for regulatory clearance. The company expects the product to be available to producers in 2012.

The drought-tolerant corn technology under development is the result of a collaborative effort between Monsanto and BASF to commercialize plant biotech products.

Officials say that tests conducted in the Western Great Plains in 2008 met or exceeded the company’s 6 to 10% target yield enhancement. In some of the drought-prone areas in the tests, yields were 7 to 10 bu./acre over the average yield of 70 to 130 bu./acre.

Monsanto showcased the drought-tolerant corn at major farm shows last year, so growers can expect to see additional field trials this year.