Tailored to seed professionals, Industry News delivers the people, research, business and product news you need to know. Submissions are welcome. Email us at news@issuesink.com.

People News

INCOTEC has appointed Alexander van der Heiden as commercial manager vegetables and ornamentals in Europe. Van der Heiden will be responsible for INCOTEC’s sales and marketing activities in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa in the field of vegetable and flower seed enhancements. For the past seven years, van der Heiden was sales manager at the Dutch-based company Priva.

The International Seed Federation has hired Camilla Perret-Gentil as event manager. Perret-Gentil is already familiar with the ISF Secretariat and related events, as she has worked in collaboration with ISF in the past, including the World Seed Congress 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Product News

New high-yielding pea varieties from LS Plant Breeding add to increased attraction of pulse crops for 2015 sowing. “Campus is a game-changing variety at 3 per cent higher yielding than Prophet in official trials. We can see further evidence of this in the crops we have in the ground now to multiply the acreage for what we believe will be a significant demand for the variety in the coming season,” says Peter Busfield, commercial manager of pulse specialists Dunns (Long Sutton) Ltd., who are the United Kingdom’s exclusive marketing agent. Craig Padley, LSPB’s pulse and oilseeds breeder, adds that the company has further winter and spring peas in the pipeline as breeders work hard to bring new varieties to the UK market.

Nine new first-choice varieties have been added to the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) 2015 Forage Maize Descriptive List. The varieties Asgaard, Alfastar, Emblem and Sunlite from Limagrain, Hobbit from Grainseed, Monty from DLF Trifolium, plus Sergio KWS and Exxtens from KWS and RAGT respectively have been added to the Favourable DL. Sergio KWS, Emblem, Sunlite and Exxtens were also added as First Choice varieties to the Less Favourable DL, aimed at ‘marginal’ growing conditions. In addition to the nine new varieties, five more have been reclassified to the First Choice Favourable DL from the Second Choice list, including Ambrosini, Kontender and Salgado from KWS, plus Marco and Truxx from Grainseed and RAGT respectively.

Certis Europe has signed an agreement with Chemtura AgroSolutions extending its distribution of Chemtura’s seed treatment portfolio. Certis has an established position in the French seed treatment sector through distribution of the Chemtura range of products since the formation of Certis Europe in 2001. Under the new agreement, its position in the sector is strengthened by the addition of Italy, the United Kingdom and Belgium to its territory. The products covered under the agreement will be distributed on an exclusive basis and include Rancona 15ME, Rancona I-Mix and Vitavax Flo NF in Italy, also Rancona 15ME, Rancona I-Mix, Anchor, Signal and Thiraflo in the UK and Langis in Belgium. The addition of the Chemtura seed treatment portfolio in Italy, the UK and Belgium is a significant step to support Certis’ strategic objectives to invest in and expand its seed treatment capabilities across relevant seed treatment markets.

Elsoms and Incotec have launched the innovative new seed treatment, GeniusCoat, alongside a new seed and grain sterilising service, ThermoSeed. In the absence of neonicotinoide seed treatments and the continued reduction in approved agrochemicals, both provide an innovative new way of improving plant performance through improving seed and root quality. GeniusCoat offers a novel blend of specific humic and fulvic acids incorporated in a specially developed film coat formulation for use on cereals. The balanced level of humic substances enhances crop nutrition by influencing the water-retaining capacity of the soil and stimulating root development, which potentially increases yield. ThermoSeed, is an innovative treatment for effective control of seed-borne pathogens by the use of hot humid air. ThermoSeed, treated seed has shown significantly enhanced seed vigour, as well as root and plant development resulting in improved field emergence, crop density and yield. In terms of grain quality the ability to effectively sterlise the grain being treated attracted a lot positive interest.

Business News

Nickerson Zwaan B.V. has changed its company name into Hazera Seeds B.V. and launched its new brand, Hazera, conjoint with its partner company Hazera Genetics. The organizational structure, including management, sales team, customer service, research and development set-up and all supporting departments, will remain unchanged. The new name and brand reflect the important and rapid expansion of the company’s worldwide business since Nickerson-Zwaan and Hazera Genetics were united in 2008 by their parent company, the Limagrain Group. This evolution addresses the need to operate globally under one name and be identified as one company. The name Hazera represents the combined and complementary expertise, experience, heritage and professionalism of both Nickerson-Zwaan and Hazera Genetics. This unification positions Hazera among the leading players in the global vegetable seeds industry, with a vaster international presence, a rich, improved product range and an overall commitment to continuous progress.

Synpromics Limited, a privately held, Scotland — based synthetic biology company has successfully generated several highly effective synthetic promoters for use in plants. “This represents a major step forward for the company and the application of our technology in the AgBio industry. Based on this success we are now moving ahead with important new plant science projects through partnerships, with a view to addressing the major challenges that face the ag industry,” says Michael Roberts, founder and CSO of Synpromics Limited.

Rijk Zwaan South Africa has taken over the sales activities from current Rijk Zwaan distributors Javelin Seeds and Filmflex Plastics. With the establishment of this new sales subsidiary, Rijk Zwaan expects to reach a stronger market position in the region. Rijk Zwaan has been active in South Africa for more than 20 years and is already a well-known brand in the protected cultivation sector, and has grown to being market leader in cucumber and leafy salad crops with a strong position in several other crops, such as sweet pepper, tomato and melon. Rijk Zwaan South Africa build on these foundations and use the structure and systems of Rijk Zwaan to realize the next phase of growth.

The seed companies Momont in France and KWS in Germany have signed an agreement to transfer shares from the Momont family to KWS. With this new agreement, Momont becomes a full member of the KWS Group once all official approvals have been granted. The new entity, to be named KWS Momont, will intensify its activities in the fields of research, production and commercialisation of cereal seeds and rapeseed while pursuing its current activities in peas, corn and fodder beet. This is a substantial step in KWS’ aim to develop its cereals division particularly by reinforcing the wheat breeding activities in France. “The target of this agreement is to reinforce the synergies between the different breeding programs of the group and to gain profit from the expertise and markets know-how of Momont, enhancing the product offering to French farmers, particularly in wheat,” says Thierry Momont.

Limagrain has announced plans to establish a plant in the western town of Bursa, Turkey. Limagrain had initially planned to build a plant in Ukraine but decided to shift the investment to Turkey. This will be Limagrain’s third factory with the other two located in France. The plant to be established in Bursa will process sunflower, corn, wheat, barley and canola seeds. The plant is expected to be operational within the next year.

KeyGene and INCOTEC have intensified their collaboration in order to develop SNP assays in various crops. The assays, UniSNP sets, are used for quality control testing in commercial seed production, such as variety tracing and (hybrid to open pollinated) seed purity testing. The two companies teamed up in 2012 to work on this venture. In the last 2 years UniSNP sets have been developed and commercialised worldwide for tomato, pepper, cucumber, melon, watermelon, lettuce and sunflower. Together, INCOTEC and KeyGene have designed broadly applicable SNP assays for varioius crops and they have been made available to all seed companies. Crops which are currently under assay development are: eggplant, several brassicas, onion, corn and squash with rice and cotton to follow soon.

FMC Corporation has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova A/S, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries A/S. Cheminova is a multinational crop protection company based in Denmark. “Cheminova’s direct market access in Europe, combined with its strong position in Latin America, will help bring greater balance to our business,” says Pierre Brondeau, president, CEO and chairman of FMC Corporation. “Its technology will allow us to expand our position in existing crop segments and provide accelerated access to additional crops, such as cereals. It will also strengthen our offerings to existing customers, especially in sugarcane, soybeans and cotton.” Brondeau added that Cheminova brings complementary technologies in insecticides and herbicides, significantly enhances FMC’s fungicide portfolio and adds a growing micronutrient business. FMC anticipates achieving synergies through production and operating efficiency gains, as well as improved market access. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2015.

Bayer CropScience has inaugurated the first Bayer ForwardFarm in the Belgian town of Huldenberg. The “Hof ten Bosch” farm owned by Jan and Josse Peeters brings together farmers, scientists and academia, technology partners and other players throughout the value chain, politics and regulators, as well as consumers, with the goals of exchanging agricultural know-how and forming partnerships to jointly promote the important role of agriculture in society.

Bayer ForwardFarming is a knowledge platform for sustainable agricultural practices, designed to further stimulate the dialog within the industry and beyond. The initiative applied to Hof ten Bosch is built upon three basic elements: integrated crop solutions – the combination of high value seeds and chemical and biological crop protection; proactive stewardship to ensure the safe and efficient use of crop protection products for both the user and the environment; and partnerships. “Our aim is to bring our Bayer ForwardFarming initiative, with its combination of integrated crop solutions, proactive stewardship and partnerships, to other countries worldwide starting in Europe,” says Birgitt Walz-Tylla, head of sustainability and business stewardship at Bayer CropScience.

Industry News

According to a recent report by Research and Markets the United Kingdom market for seed treatment is estimated at 43.6 million (US$56.3 million) in 2014 and is further anticipated to register a 2013-2020 compound annual growth rate of 5.9 per cent. Accounting for an estimated 94.1 per cent in 2014, chemical agents form the largest application area in the region, though demand for biological agents is poised to post the fastest 2014-2020 growth rate of 7 per cent. By type of crop, corn/maize accounts for the largest share of 31.9 per cent estimated in 2014 in overall seed treatment, though the fastest 2014-2020 growth rate of 6.5 per cent is likely to be registered by seed treatment demand in soybeans. The market for seed treatment gains in significance are due to a number of factors including agronomic trends that comprise development of high quality seeds through the enhanced potential offered by genetically modified organisms (GMOs), changes in climatic conditions, increasing rates of crop rotation, flexibility in sowing approaches and greater pressure from regulatory requirements.

An International consortium of more than 30 research institutes, coordinated by scientists at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the French National Sequencing Centre (CEA-Genoscope) and the University of Evry in France has deciphered the complex genome of the oilseed rape1 (Brassica napus L, known as rapeseed, rape or canola), the most important oilseed crop in Europe, Canada and Australia. This scientific breakthrough paves the way to a fundamental understanding of the origins of crop species through polyploidy and provides a foundational resource for accelerating on-going breeding efforts in the crop. The research has been published in the journal Science.

According to a recent study conducted by Market Reports Online titled, Global Vegetable Seeds Market: Trends and Opportunities (2014-2019) Asia is the largest market for vegetable seeds followed by Europe, North America, South America and Africa. The vegetables market is divided into six main crop groupings and 17 major crops. The Global Vegetable Seeds Market Analysis research report provides an insight into overall vegetable seeds sector over the years with a special focus on solanaceae, cucurbitaceae and root and bulb. Solanaceae is the largest group that consists of tomato, pepper and eggplant. The report includes detailed information on market size, geographical segmentation and import and export trends in the vegetable seeds sector. It also discusses key growth drivers, challenges and trends of the market. According to the authors of the report, “governments of different countries are focusing on vegetable seed industry by investing in biotechnology and related researches. Seed companies are investing more and more in application of biotechnological tools in crop improvement.”

Scientists from Denmark’s Aarhus University have found that bees with roots in the local environment manage much better in the struggle for survival than imported honeybees from foreign environments. Researchers determined this by investigating the interaction between the genetic makeup of honeybees and their environment. Even though a lot is known about the geographical and genetic diversity of honeybees, knowledge of how honeybees adapt to the local environment has been limited until now. “Many beekeepers believe that it is best to buy queens from outside instead of using the queens they have in their own beehives. However, there is increasing evidence that the global honeybee trade has detrimental effects, including the spread of new diseases and pests,” says senior scientist Per Kryger from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University.

The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) published a draft sequence of the bread wheat genome in the journal Science. The draft sequence provides new insight into the structure, organisation and evolution of the world’s most widely grown cereal crop. The consortium has established the first reference sequence for the largest chromosome, 3B, which could serve as a template for sequencing the remaining chromosomes. “With the draft gene sequence for each of the bread wheat chromosomes and the first reference sequence of chromosome 3B, we have reached a great milestone in our roadmap,” says Catherine Feuillet, IWGSC co-chair. “With a chromosome-based full sequence in hand, plant breeders now have high-quality tools at their disposal to speed up breeding programs and identify how genes control complex traits.”

Research carried out by seed physiologists from Wageningen UR and seed experts from the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands, showed that when seeds were stored without oxygen, 98 per cent of them germinated after three weeks. In their scientific article, Wageningen researchers propose that gene banks package seeds in oxygen-poor conditions immediately after harvest and drying, because this will slow the loss of antioxidants. This means that the seeds can be stored for longer periods of time, reducing regeneration costs. The Centre for Genetic Resources is a Dutch gene bank, which is part of Wageningen UR.

Kagome is investing 1.5 million in a new research centre dedicated to the tomato in the region of Rinatejo, Portugal. HIT Portuguese group, who is majority owned by the Japanese multinational Kagome, announced the investment. Kagome is a specialist in tomatoes and tomato products. The country has managed to increase its exports to Japan by 37 per cent in recent years. Portuguese tomato production for 2014 could reach 1.6 million tonnes.

Bayer CropScience is expanding production at its Muttenz site in Switzerland and has also inaugurated a new production facility. The new facility is a reaction to the growing demand for agricultural commodities and will expand Bayer’s production capacities in the area of crop protection. “This investment will make Muttenz a central site from which we will be able to serve the global demand for the Nativo family of crop protection products,” says Bayer CropScience CEO Liam Condon. The production facilities feature state-of-the-art technology in compliance with the latest environmental standards. The site produces various intermediates for the synthesis of trifloxystrobin, an active substance with a broad spectrum of action against fungal diseases in many fruit, vegetable and cereal varieties that is used successfully around the world. Bayer has also announced that the company intends in the future to focus entirely on the Life Science businesses HealthCare and CropScience and float MaterialScience on the stock market as a separate company. In this way Bayer is positioning itself as a world-leading company in the field of human, animal and plant health. Employment levels are expected to remain stable over the next few years, both globally and in Germany.

Web and App News

The Germplasm Resource Information Network-Global (known as GRIN-Global) was created to provide the world’s crop gene banks with a powerful, flexible, easy-to-use global plant genetic resource information management system. GRIN-Global is the platform for an efficient and effective global network of gene banks to permanently safeguard plant genetic resources vital to global food security, and to encourage the use of these resources by researchers, breeders and farmer-producers. The GRIN-Global project now manages a collection of more than 180,000 accessions of maize and wheat genetic resources. GRIN-Global now offers a web application that allows gene bank users (breeders, students and researchers) to search accessions and request seed from the website, go to (http://mgb.cimmyt.org/gringlobal/search.aspx and http://wgb.cimmyt.org/gringlobal/search.aspx).

Those who follow the issue of genetically engineered crops have heard claims that there is little independent research on their safety for consumption or the environment. A new public database of research tells a different story. The resource is the GENetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA). The results show that independent peer-reviewed research on GMOs is common, conducted worldwide and comprises half of the total of all research on risks associated with genetic engineering. GENERA is a searchable database of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the relative risks of genetically engineered crops. Journalists, scientists, public officials and anyone else can use GENERA to search for research on the effectiveness of using genetic engineering to modify the genetics of plants, and can find studies that compare GMOs to non-GMOs to see if they are equivalent. Studies conducted on the safety of consuming genetically engineered foods and their impacts on the environment are also included in the atlas. http://genera.biofortified.org/

Bejo has launched its Cropalyser App, a practical tool to easily identify major pests, diseases and disorders in vegetable crops including red beet, carrots, cabbage and onions. The App provides information about the health and growth of your crop. The search function “Cropalyse” is a handy tool, which guides you by means of answering questions about irregularities, analysing growth developments and recognising symptoms. Cropalyser also contains advice on crop control and prevention of pests and diseases. The Cropalyser provides growers with functional crop information at hand. During growth stages users can search by means of symptoms, pictures and questions as to which disease or pest is hindering the development of the crop.

Scientists from Wageningen UR in the Netherlands are taking part in a project designed to stimulate the development of apps for use in agriculture and horticulture. App developers and users are invited to send in their applications. The SmartAgriFoodII project is part of the European Future Internet Public-Private Partnership programme (FI-PPP), set up as an incentive for the development and implementation of internet technology in Europe. SmartAgriFoodII focuses specifically on apps for the agricultural and horticultural sectors. The apps will be delivered through a platform specially set up for the purpose, known as FISpace. For more information go to www.smartagrifood.com.

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