PROSPER, N.D. - Those attending Syngenta's Agri-Pro field day near Prosper last month, were brought up to date on the latest research being done by Syngenta in terms of wheat production and product design to aid in wheat production. In addition, they were also able to view test plots of the genetic work being done by their chief wheat breeder, Joe Smith.
Outlining the wheat research efforts of Syngenta, Rollie Sears, head of the North American wheat breeding program, cited how the Syngenta wheat breeding program is developing varieties that can adapt to changes in growing environments, needs of the wheat producer and the end users. Some of this is the result of being able to bring together genetic material from such diverse places as the former Soviet Union, southern France, Argentina and Australia.
Syngenta has also made big investments in equipment ranging from greenhouses to plot-sized equipment, such as planters and combines, which has enabled them to grow more plots, larger plots and better plots.
"Plant breeding is still a numbers game," he said, "and the more plots you can plant and evaluate them effectively and efficiently, the more progress you are going to make."
And due to the fact that Syngenta is a global company, they have been able to tap into their corn and soybean programs and the facilities they have in South America and Africa, so they are able to move material back and forth between the different seasons. That has been a big advantage in speeding up the breeding process.
Part of Syngenta's wheat breeding program is focused on hybrid wheat and this year they were able to view some of the plots seeded to hybrid varieties.
'"Hybrids have been a difficult nut to crack-and we haven't had a real commercial success yet," he said. "But we have had commercial success with hybrid barley in Europe and we have learned a whole lot about how to work hybrid programs, based on that experience.
"Not only will growers see higher yields with hybrids, they'll also see better stability of performance so there will be fewer dramatic peaks and valleys from year to year," he continued. "When growing conditions cause conventional varieties to yield dramatically lower, hybrids will show a minimal yield difference."
Syngenta's cereal grain research efforts aren't limited to breeding new varieties, he noted. They are also working on growth regulators, fungicides, seed treatments and agronomy practices.
"Syngenta truly wants to be a complete program that makes a complete offer that not only includes outstanding crop protection products, but also outstanding seed products and a full integrated knowledge package that allows you to really make a good judgment and assessment about the opportunity and product performance."
In response to a question on if we will see increased winter wheat acres in this region; Sears said that depends on whether the bakers will start using the enzymes in wheat flour to improve dough performance. Up to now, they have usually relied on the protein in the wheat for good dough characteristics. However, it's hard to have really good yields and high protein levels at the same time; if the bakers start using more enzymes to improve dough quality that will lower the need for high protein wheat.
"Spring wheat typically delivers protein, but winter wheat holds the key to enzymes," he said. "This could lead to more winter wheat grown further north, particularly as our winter hardiness in these lines improves."
Syngenta sales representative Chad Ringdahl discussed two products that have been developed to help growers better manage cereal crops. The first was Vibrance, a seed treat fungicide that will be marketed as a component of CruiserMaxx Vibrance Cereals insecticide/fungicide seed treatment. This product will eventually replace the current CruiseMaxx Cereals formulation. This new seed treatment formulation will offer the best-in-class Rhizoctonia activity combined with protection against a broad range of insects and diseases. It's also designed to boost Rooting Power through longer-lasting disease protection that leads to more powerful roots and improved crop performance.
Ringdahl also highlighted Palisade 2EC plant growth regulator, which shortens internodes to reduce crop height and lower the crop's center of gravity to help prevent lodging. This product improves standability of the crop and mitigates risk from adverse weather and increased fertility rates, ultimately maximizing yield and profit potential.
Finally, field day attendees had the opportunity to view the seed production nursery plots under the direction of chief wheat breeder Joe Smith and Northern Plains wheat breeder Mory Rugg.