WE COULD look back to 2010 as a time when the market had relatively few stacked products.

“Five years ago we thought stacking two or three genes was exciting,” says Jonathan Bryant, vice president at BASF Plant Science. “Now the industry leaders can track 20 or more genes, and there’s really no limit to what we can stack.”

“As the market gets new traits and technology, it will start to segment,” says Tracy Mader, head of product marketing for Syngenta Seeds. “In parts of the southeast we could see an emphasis on grain quality and insect control; the western Corn Belt would put an emphasis on water management traits; and in the central Corn Belt the key driver would be insect management and long-term stewardship.”

With all of this promise also comes the challenge of how to price these products. It could become difficult to show the value of some agronomic traits. Take the drought gene, for example. In dryer years, it certainly would be valuable. But growers are asking how much it will help in wet seasons.

David Fischhoff, technology strategy and development strategy lead for Monsanto, says, “Yield and stress traits will be the next big steps. If we compare where we are today in crop breeding to the computer industry, breeding would be at the mainframe computer stage.”