THE ROUND of farm shows this winter turned up these interesting stories:

Future glyphosate trait

By the year 2009, Pioneer Hi-Bred plans to join other companies offering a proprietary glyphosate trait. DuPont and Pioneer made a joint announcement at Commodity Classic regarding their new glyphosate trait called Optimum GAT. The trait provides glyphosate tolerance through a unique protection system that binds the trait with glyphosate and transforms it into a metabolite that doesn't harm the plant. The GAT trait also offers tolerance to acetolactate synthase (ALS) herbicides, which contain sulfonylurea and imidazolinone. Pioneer says the double protection will make the new trait an important option in the growing field of glyphosate-tolerant traits.

But why announce it three years in advance? Pioneer President Dean Oestreich explained the unusual move by saying that the company had “gone far enough to start rolling it out.” He also reported that it wants to signal to growers that a “new set of choices” will be coming. In addition, the trait will be licensed to other seed companies.

Gene shuffling was used to develop the Optimum GAT trait. This new technology allows researchers to identify a weak trait and then enhance its capabilities to a level that, in this case, will provide strong herbicide resistance. Oestreich says Pioneer is using the technology to enhance other traits.

Multiple brands, one company

Golden Harvest reminds its customers that this year they can buy up to three different brands of soybean seed and two brands of corn seed, all from Golden Harvest. When Golden Harvest was purchased by Syngenta last year, Monsanto pulled the Roundup Ready (RR) licenses from Golden Harvest Seeds. So the company is licensing other brands for the RR trait until Syngenta's AgriSure traits are moved fully into the Golden Harvest lines.

For corn, customers can purchase Golden Harvest genetics as well as Laser brands. In soybeans, customers can buy Golden Harvest, NK and Gutwein brands.

Soybean rust

Although soybean growers were on high alert last year for Asian soybean rust, most are treating it pretty ho-hum this year. But some indicators suggest a bigger risk for rust as the summer unfolds. Marty Wigglesworth with Syngenta Crop Protection says more kudzu (rust's popular host) overwintered, which could mean more rust than last year. He also was not surprised that rust was detected in Texas. He speculated that the rust entered Texas after hurricane Ivan and sat undetected. He advises growers to scout.

Wigglesworth's best advice: Scout your fields for rust.