THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency has granted a federal registration for YieldGard Plus corn — the first biotech product genetically engineered to control both corn borer and corn rootworm pests.

The decision was announced by Monsanto, the company responsible for the development of YieldGard and YieldGard Plus corn, Bollgard and Roundup Ready cotton, and a number of other genetically enhanced crops.

“Monsanto is pleased that the EPA has completed its review and registration of YieldGard Plus,” said Robb Fraley, chief technology officer of Monsanto. “This registration is great news for tens of thousands of U.S. farmers who are seeing the benefits of biotech products.

“YieldGard Plus corn is expected to provide numerous benefits to corn growers, including improved yields, higher on-farm returns and reduced need for insecticides historically used to control these damaging insect pests.”

Because it contains a gene that kills the pests, YieldGard Plus corn allows the corn plant to protect itself against the damaging Western and Northern corn rootworm larvae and the European corn borer. Nicknamed the “billion-dollar bugs,” the corn rootworm and corn borer each are estimated to cost U.S. growers about $1 billion annually.

Following the necessary regulatory clearances on a state-level in the United States and receipt of Japanese import approval, the YieldGard Plus technology will be made available for planting in corn hybrids through Monsanto's branded seed businesses — DeKalb and Asgrow — and licensed, independent seed companies.

Monsanto says all YieldGard Plus corn hybrids will be sold with a seed treatment to offer broad-spectrum control of secondary pests such as wireworm, white grub, early flea beetle and seed corn maggot.

Company representatives said they will also implement an insect resistance management program to delay the potential development of resistance by target pests. As part of its approval process, EPA requires that growers planting the technology follow an insect resistance management program.

The IRM plan for YieldGard Plus corn will be similar to those in use for other Bacillus thuringiensis products such as YieldGard Corn Borer corn and YieldGard Rootworm corn. For YieldGard Plus corn, EPA requires that growers plant a refuge with non-Bt corn.

In most corn-growing areas, the refuge area must include at least 20 percent of the grower's YieldGard Plus corn acres, but, in cotton-growing areas, the corn borer refuge must be at least 50 percent of the YieldGard Plus corn acres.

YieldGard Plus hybrid growers may plant a common refuge for both corn borers and corn rootworms or they may plant separate refuge areas for the two pests.

Once commercialized, YieldGard Plus corn hybrids will be sold as part of Monsanto's Market Choices program. This program identifies those technologies that are fully approved for food and feed use in the United States and Japan, but are currently lacking approval in the European Union.

Growers who plant Market Choices hybrids must “utilize appropriate markets for this grain, including feedlots, feed mills, on-farm feeding and grain handlers who agree to accept the grain,” according to Monsanto representatives. “Growers should contact their local seed dealers or grain handlers for more stewardship details.”


RiceTec offers new payment options

ALVIN, TEXAS-based RiceTec, Inc., will offer producers several payment alternatives for their 2004 hybrid seed purchases, including a “Grain for Seed” deferred payment program, allowing participants to delay payment of their hybrid seed purchases until after the crop is harvested and sold in the fall.

“Many growers are already familiar with the great yield potential RiceTec hybrid rice offers, and with this new deferred payment program, XL7, XL8 and Clearfield XL8 should be even more attractive to producers next spring,” says Jim Thompson, seed sales and marketing manager for RiceTec.

Grain for Seed allows qualified participants to have their hybrid seed payment deferred without interest until the fall, when the crop produced by the hybrid seed is harvested and sold. To qualify, the grain buyer must be identified on the front end and made fully aware that the grain is part of the deferred payment program. Both the seed purchaser and the grain buyer must sign an agreement granting RiceTec a security interest in the harvested grain.

The grain must be delivered to the designated grain merchandiser by Nov. 30, 2004, to maintain interest-free status. If delivery and/or payment are made after this date, interest of 1 percent will be charged for each month a balance remains. If the purchaser intends to apply for a government loan for the harvested grain, payment is due in full prior to implementing the government loan.

RiceTec's new XP710 and the new medium-grain XP712, which will be available in limited quantities in 2004, are eligible for the Grain for Seed program, in addition to XL7, XL8 and Clearfield XL8.

The standard payment terms and conditions for RiceTec seed apply to purchases not entered in the Grain for Seed program. June 30, 2004, is the interest-free payment deadline for purchases not entered in the program.

Another payment option RiceTec will offer in 2004 allows purchasers to pay for their hybrid seed before the end of January to receive a price discount of $10 per acre, based on the RiceTec-recommended seeding rate of 600,000 seeds per acre.

“Growers are telling us this option creates an extremely attractive APR on the seed,” says Thompson. “These creative new payment options offered by RiceTec should give more producers the opportunity to plant high-yielding hybrid rice seed and boost the profit potential of their fields.”

RiceTec's 2004 hybrid rice seed lineup is led by Clearfield XL8, which has demonstrated in both company and independent tests a significant yield advantage over all the leading rice varieties (Clearfield and traditional varieties alike). Clearfield XL8 can be planted in fields with high or low infestations of red rice and still offer a positive economic return. This product has an excellent overall disease package, and, in most cases, should not require a fungicide application. Clearfield XL8 is adapted to all Mid-South- and Coastal-growing regions, and has excellent potential as a ratoon crop in the Coastal area.

For more information about Grain for Seed, early-payment option and hybrid rice products offered in 2004, call 877-580-7423 or visit www.ricetec.com.


Program improves wildlife habitat

THE STATE of Mississippi is funding a new cost-share program that encourages Mississippi pine forest landowners to improve wildlife habitat by applying Arsenal herbicide Applicators Concentrate from BASF Professional Vegetation Management (ProVM).

Known as the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), the cost-share program subsidizes the cost of applying Arsenal AC in pine stands. WHIP was established by Congress as a part of the 1996 farm bill to provide assistance with payments for conservation projects that benefit various wildlife species and habitats, and was included in the 2002 farm bill.

One of ProVM's smart herbicide products, Arsenal AC controls invasive hardwood brush in pine stands, allowing wildlife-preferred food sources, such as legumes and rubus, to flourish on the forest floor.

Smart herbicides target specific plant species such as sweetgum by penetrating and moving all the way through to kill them at their roots. With invasive hardwood brush out of the way, sunlight reaches the forest floor and wildlife-preferred food sources have less competition for nutrients and water.

“By giving land managers the opportunity to improve wildlife habitat through the use of smart herbicides, BASF ProVM is helping to create and enhance the quality of Mississippi forestland,” said Bobby Watkins, BASF professional vegetation management technical specialist.

“Mississippi's support of WHIP is a great advantage for Mississippi's landowners and the environment.” Mississippi is the first state to subsidize the cost of spraying Arsenal AC through WHIP. Though WHIP is available nationwide, Mississippi ranks second in the nation for enrollment.

WHIP participants can also take advantage of state funded technical and silvicultural advice to utilize beneficial land management techniques. Under WHIP, USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service will provide technical assistance and pay 75 percent of the cost of implementing new management practices.

For more information on how smart herbicides can improve your forestland, visit www.forestryfacts.com. Learn more about WHIP at www.wildlifemiss.org.


Harvest Partners coming to close

THE HARVEST PARTNERS preferred customer program, a grower loyalty program launched in 1992, will be discontinued as of Feb. 27, 2004,

BASF has announced. Wendy Smith, manager, business administration for BASF, said the evaluation of the grower loyalty portion of the Harvest Partners program had been taking place over the past year.

“Last fall, BASF made a commitment to continue looking for ways to strengthen our channel focus throughout 2003 and beyond,” said Bill Wisdom, BASF group vice president. “Like our customers, we are focusing on core competencies; delivering a differentiating offer; setting reasonable business expectations; and responsibly managing costs.

“In the context of today's marketplace, the Harvest Partners preferred customer program does not meet the needs of our channel customers or their grower customers.”

Said Smith: “The dynamics in agriculture have changed dramatically since the time the Harvest Partners program was launched 11 years ago. The Harvest Partners preferred customer program, which offered growers Harvest Points award credits that could be redeemed for merchandise and services, is not consistent with our channel-focused strategy today.”

“This decision will strengthen our offering because it allows us to more strategically focus our resources and efforts,” Wisdom said. “Sound, strategic adjustments and a long-term commitment to the industry we serve are critical for the success of any organization.”

As an indicator of the continued BASF commitment to agriculture, the company has, in the past year alone, introduced no fewer than six new crop-protection compounds to the marketplace. In addition, BASF in March 2003 completed its purchase of Regent insecticide from Bayer CropScience.

“We believe these investments act as a clear and tangible expression of our commitment to bring new technologies to agriculture,” Wisdom said.

Smith said efforts soon will be under way to notify all constituent audiences about the program's discontinuation.

“We will be aggressively communicating this to members and giving them every opportunity to redeem their outstanding Harvest Points award credits,” Smith said. “Even members with no existing award credits will be thanked for their participation and alerted to the program's conclusion.”

The deadline for redeeming points is Feb. 27, 2004. Smith noted that members are able to redeem Harvest Points on a wide array of merchandise from the Harvest Partners 2003 Rewards Catalog.


Deere two-celled hilldrop seed disk

ENHANCED TECHNOLOGY and cost efficiency have inspired the development of the new John Deere two-cell hill drop cottonseed disk. The disk optimizes planting accuracy and decreases seed input costs by reducing the amount of seeds planted per hill.

Designed exclusively for John Deere vacuum meter planters, the new two-celled hill drop cottonseed disk reduces seed cost — an increasingly important cost input — by enabling producers to place two seeds per hill instead of four.

“Thanks to improvements in cottonseed genetics, fewer cotton seeds are needed per hill,” says Steve Lloyd, senior product support representative, aftermarket department, seeding group. “Now producers can extend cotton seeds over a broader area. In fact, John Deere's development of the two-celled hill drop can save producers $8 to $16 per acre.”

The disks are sold in packages of two and are available at any John Deere dealership. Find out more about the John Deere two-celled hill drop cotton seed disk by contacting your local John Deere dealer.


Dow honors Jimmy Sanders

FIFTY YEARS is a major milestone for any relationship. In today's agricultural business, it becomes a special success story.

In 1953, Jimmy Sanders, Inc., started its chemical distribution business in Cleveland, Miss., with only two key suppliers. One no longer exists. The other is Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences.

During a recent meeting in Cleveland, Charlie Fischer, president and CEO of Dow AgroSciences, honored those 50 years of business partnership. Fischer presented Mike Sanders, president of Jimmy Sanders, a clock commemorating the milestone.

“It's a small token for all of the years of friendship and partnership,” said Fischer. “It's not the norm these days, but handshakes still mean something between Jimmy Sanders personnel and Dow AgroSciences.”

In addition, Fischer presented a $10,000 contribution on behalf of the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation to Delta State University for The Hazel & Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden to be built adjacent to the university's Bologna Performing Arts Center in Cleveland.

“We do appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the legacy of Jimmy Sanders, who has been a great friend of our company for many years and to help support the cultural quality of life for the citizens of the Cleveland area,” he said.

Jimmy Sanders, Inc., is one of the leading farm supply distributors in the Mid-South, with locations in five states. The company's operations include agricultural chemical distribution, seed production and sales, bulk handling of fertilizer, exporting of grains, variable rate technology and other agronomic services.


Golden Acres new products

GOLDEN ACRES GENETICS, Ltd., has introduced five new corn hybrids and one new grain sorghum hybrid for the 2004 growing season.

The new corn hybrids combine the latest technology traits with the proven performance of Golden Acres' Southern genetics. The new grain sorghum hybrid strengthens the company's lineup of high-yielding, full-season products.

2820Rw — Golden Acres' new 112-day corn hybrid provides YieldGard Rootworm insect protection. 2820Rw delivers excellent yield potential from moderate flex ears and is well adapted at moderate to high plant populations.

2822RR — Golden Acres' new 113-day Roundup Ready corn hybrid delivers consistent performance and improved plant characteristics of 2832IMI. 2822RR displays excellent drought tolerance and standability and performs well across a wide variety of soil types.

2830Bt — Golden Acres' new 115-day corn hybrid combines a large, girthy, flex ear with YieldGard Corn Borer protection. 2830Bt displays excellent plant health and succeeds at low to moderate plant populations.

2844RRB — Golden Acres' new 117-day corn hybrid provides Roundup Ready tolerance and YieldGard Corn Borer resistance. 2844RRB delivers a medium-tall plant with excellent staygreen and a large, flex ear.

2848RRW — Golden Acres' new 117-day corn hybrid combines Roundup Ready tolerance and YieldGard Rootworm resistance. 2848RRW delivers a medium-tall plant with excellent staygreen and a large, flex ear. Plus, 2848RRW will be the latest maturity corn hybrid in 2004 with both Roundup Ready tolerance and rootworm resistance.

3827 — Golden Acres' new medium-late grain sorghum hybrid delivers excellent yields for full-season environments. 3827 displays good head exsertion and semi-open heads of red-colored grain for fast drydown and easy harvest. 3827 is a terrific choice with great standability and tremendous yield potential.

“All of these new products are welcomed additions to our product lineup,” said Lou Buice, Golden Acres Genetics president. “Each one provides a unique set of agronomic and high-yield qualities to succeed in the tough conditions of the Southern United States.”

For more information contact Golden Acres Genetics Ltd. At 800-692-6848 or visit the Web site www.Gaseed.com.