Syngenta Seeds enters 2011 with its largest portfolio of seed products, which includes two big firsts: the first drought-related hybrids called Agrisure Artesian and a new mode of action against corn pests called Viptera. All of this comes five years after Syngenta purchased Golden Harvest and Garst seed companies to combine with its NK brand.

“We’ve been in a huge transformation since 2005 . . .[when we] started a dive into a deep pool of genetic diversity,” explains David Morgan, Syngenta Seeds president. “We said it would take five to six years to get products [from these purchases] to the market . . . and 2011 is the year for us to express the new genetics.”

Morgan adds that Syngenta Seeds has “pulled even with the big competitors and moved ahead in some areas.” Plus, its quarterly income results show growth.

On top of this, the company moved into its new headquarters in Minnetonka, MN, last fall. The headquarters boasts the latest in “green” design and earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

With all these factors coming together, Syngenta Seeds wants the industry to know that it is a major player in the corn and soybean seed markets.

Agrisure Artesian technology

Its new Agrisure Artesian technology will be available in what the company calls its water-optimized hybrids. Grant Ozipko, trait marketing manager, explains that the hybrids are not drought tolerant. Instead, the hybrids use multiple native genes to help the plant mitigate moisture stress throughout the growing season. Some of the genes help the plant maintain a robust root system, its plant and leaf sizes, and cell functions. Other genes delay how quickly the plant shuts down growth when under moisture stress. As a result, the water-optimized hybrids will provide 15% yield preservation compared to what the hybrid will do without the Artesian technology.

“The genes are inserted into our elite hybrids for testing and evaluated in managed stress environments,” reports Bruce Battles, agronomy research manager. The hybrids must maintain yields under full water conditions, too.

The initial markets for Agrisure Artesian hybrids are in areas with a greater than 30% chance of drought stress. “It will not enable us to turn Nevada into Iowa,” states Tracy Mader, product marketing. “It will help stabilize yields on dryland and limited irrigation acres. We also believe it will help hold yield in sand.”

Agrisure Viptera trait

The company’s new Agrisure Viptera trait offers a new mode of action against lepidopteran corn pests like black cutworm, corn earworm, fall armyworm and stalk borer. Roger Kemble, head of technology, explains, “A whole class of Vip [vegetative insecticidal proteins] is initiated during the vegetative growth stage of Bt. [The proteins] can then be used for other modes of action. . . . Even though we started with the same thing, we now have a new mode of action.”

The company reports that the Agrisure Viptera trait also can reduce the development of molds and mycotoxins.

Pooling genetics from three seed companies has allowed Syngenta Seeds to develop hybrids across many different maturities and geographies.

"The need for very localized hybrids has really come forward," Morgan says. “We make sure we have the right hybrid for the right locale.” As a result, 140 new hybrids will be on the market in 2011.

About 80% of the new hybrids are triple stacks, and many will have the Viptera trait, according to Morgan. He reports that, in early 2010 field trials, many Syngenta Seeds triple stacks were outperforming larger stacks sold by competitors.