An innovation for every farm." Like a chicken in every pot, Asgrow is stepping out front promising farmers nothing short of tailor-made crops.

"That means we will provide innovations to enable every farmer to play a role in delivering higher quality, innovative crops to meet ever-changing world needs and demands," says John Schillinger, co-president of Asgrow Seed, formerly based in Kalamazoo, MI.

Schillinger shared Asgrow's new strategic vision at a media event staged to show off its new office digs in Des Moines, IA, now headquarters to the longtime Michigan company. Des Moines is part of the plan too. It falls in line with current fashion of other agricultural giants feeling a need to be closer to their core customer.

Over the next two years, Asgrow plans to invest heavily in producing seed with high oil, high protein, herbicide resistance and other value-added traits. These trait products accounted for 80% of the company's growth in 1997, Schillinger says, and will play a key role in its announced plans.

Moving its headquarters to Des Moines will help expedite those plans because the bulk of its production and research facilities and customer base are already housed in the state. "Our investment here in Iowa and at our facilities in Puerto Rico, Chili, Argentina and Mexico will allow us to bring corn and soybean products to market much faster - from what normally takes eight to ten years down to five or six years," Schillinger says.

Asgrow has been known as a preeminent soybean company and was one of the first to market Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996. "We have a good thing going in soybeans and want to build on that," Schillinger adds. "We also have exciting things going on in corn, sorghum and sunflowers, and those efforts will become evident in the next two years."

And just as the scissors were about to cut the ribbon, Asgrow received word that the USDA approved the use of Roundup Ready corn, finding "no significant impact on the environment" from the cultivation and agricultural use of the product.

Roundup Ready corn, jointly developed by Monsanto and DeKalb, is genetically enhanced to withstand applications of Roundup Ultra herbicide. DeKalb will offer Roundup Ready corn in five elite hybrids in 1998, and the technology will be broadly licensed to the seed industry. Asgrow, owned by Monsanto, will be producing the product next winter and plans to market it in 1999.