The recent Terral Seed field day outside Greenville, Miss., drew a large crowd — some from as far away as Texas. And there was big news. At the outset of the tour, a new partnership with Pioneer was announced.
Corn and soybean breeders then explained what access to Pioneer’s vast genetic holdings will mean for Terral customers.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to offer you the traits and technologies you need on your farm, not what we want to sell you,” said Phil Michener, Terral corn breeder. “Also, we’ll give you a broader base of genetics to look at and make sure we’re putting moneymakers on your farm. That way we’ll keep you in business and you’ll keep us in business.”
Terral is a Southern grain company — “only a Southern grain company — and will always be a Southern grain company,” continued Michener. “We’re very excited to bring you a revolution against limited traits and genetic options. This is a big deal. It will mean so much to Southern agriculture in the very near future.”
With the agreement Michener has seen “more genetics in the last couple of years than I ever dreamed would be available to me. I have the largest coffer of genetics to select from for the South that exists. … There are millions and millions of hybrids and inbreds we’re able to evaluate.”
The huge genetic expansion has provided Michener greater research opportunities. In 2009 alone, “I’ve doubled the number of corn research locations throughout the South. We stretch from Texas almost into Alabama; from almost the Bootheel of Missouri to nearly the Gulf (of Mexico). There are about 11 different locations. We’ve tripled the number of plots we’re working to ensure the right products — revolutionary products — for your farm.”
In conjunction with the Terral/Pioneer partnership, the “REV” brand has been introduced.
“All these hybrids come through Greenville and go through our unrivaled, extensive testing to make sure the product coming to you in a REV bag will perform on your farm.”
The first REV corn products Michener points to: 25HR49 and 28HR29.
“For years Terral has been known for tough corn and 28 is one for a high-input, irrigated environment where you’ll really push it. The 28 can just run and run and run.
“Next to it is an all-around, general purpose tough corn. For those who have grown a lot of Terral corn in the past, the 25HR49 has a lot of similarities with the old 25BR23. It handles irrigation or dryland.”
26HR50 is the “first corn I’ve seen that gets better the farther south we push it. Those in central and southern Louisiana might want to check it out.”
25HR39 was the first hybrid identified a few years ago “as one we wanted to make sure to bring to the table. It has a good, nice long ear. It twins exceptionally well.”
At Terral, corn is tested in 30-, 38- and 40-inch environments “as well as 38- and 40-inch twins. Understand that Terral knows how you’re growing crops and we make sure in the development process those agricultural practices” are employed in tests. Dryland, furrow, flood, and pivot irrigation are also studied.
25HR39 is one “we like in the twin-row environment. It has a fairly narrow canopy so it packs in tight. It has good test weight and is widely adapted.”
26R60 is a product designed to be grown best north of I-40. “We don’t want to develop a 116-day hybrid that can work from the Ohio River to the Gulf. We’ve identified no fewer than nine different zones to target hybrids to. There is hybrid overlap in those zones, but we also have hybrids for specific zones.”
Over the last 14 years, Donnie Glover has bred soybeans for Terral Seed. During that time, he said while addressing field day attendees, “I’ve listened to what you want in soybean varieties. I’ve tried to listen to you. That’s what’s brought you this product line-up.
“This is a historic time at Terral Seed and I’m so proud to be here.” Terral’s agreement with Pioneer “is a great synergistic partnership with each bringing things to the table. I’m so excited about getting an infusion of technology, an infusion of germ plasm and traits. It’s like a great, big shot of adrenaline to my system: More! Bigger! Faster! Stronger!”
Glover has “just about gotten sick and tired of the limited choices in traits and limited choices in genetics. I’m not going to take it any longer. Join us! Join the revolution! We’re fighting for your very survival.”
There is “a deep tradition” at Terral Seed where “soybean varieties lap the middles, they’re heat- and drought-tolerant, that they’ll stand flood irrigation. But most of all, we’ve got to make sure they put a lot of quality soybeans in your combine at harvest. That’s the bottom line and where the buck stops. That’s why we spend so much money studying combines, harvest and traveling the Mid-South.”
Glover broke highlighted soybean varieties into three groups: clay soil varieties (including the Gulf Coast region), cotton soil varieties (including fields north of I-40) and “perhaps most important” an all-around category.
There is still large Mid-South soybean acreage in clay soils. Terral Seed has been “breeding clay soil varieties as long, or longer, than anyone else in the Mid-South.”
The first two varieties Glover names are amongst “the most popular in the Mid-South: 55R15 and 49R17. These two are big and bushy. They get tall and have flood tolerance, they stand the heat and have excellent disease resistance.”
Several weeks prior, a grower called Glover “and said, ‘Listen, my (competing company) varieties died when all that water arrived’ earlier in the spring. ‘The Terral 49R17 is still green and growing. It has so much flood tolerance.’ I said, ‘You should’ve planted the whole place in 49R17.’ He said ‘Well, there wasn’t enough.’”
A brand-new clay soil variety is REV50R10, “an outstanding addition. It does really well along the Gulf Coast and I’m very proud of it.”
The following varieties “are all new and we’ve been working on them for many years. The first two are Group 5 STS varieties: REV54R20 and REV55R21. Both are outstanding in true cotton soils. They stand up, don’t lodge and lap the middles. They respond well to irrigation and yet have good drought tolerance. They have good, basic Deep South breeding with nice, round leaves and dominant stem canker resistance and things like that.”
In the early spectrum cotton soil varieties, there is REV46R20. “This variety is a medium-tall variety that grows very well on sandier/cotton soils.”
All the varieties have “excellent nematode resistance and heat tolerance. They really like cotton soils. It’s very important to not just plant (inferior soybean varieties) on expensive cotton ground. You’ve got to plant varieties that’ll take advantage of the great soils we’re blessed with in the Delta.”
Glover posed a question: “How many of y’all plant on, or work with a client where there’s buckshot, mixed dirt and cotton soils all in the same field?” Scanning the crowd, he found the answer was “most everyone.”
Glover pointed out three varieties that fit such environments.
First, 49R19 “stands up like a telephone pole. But it stands the clay soils, the flood irrigation, has great early growth.”
As for REV48R10 and REV49R11 “I don’t think I’ve ever seen soybeans that pod any stronger. They’re very good with yield potential. Seed will be available next year. They’re of medium stature, stand up well and have outstanding yield production. A pod count in the plots shows the yields are over 100 bushels.”
Many of these varieties are either under conversion to Optimum GAT or already have been converted. Optimum GAT is the “only advanced trait we’ll bring to you. We feel it’s very important to have multiple herbicide resistances in one variety. We’ve got to have that to control problem weeds, which are worse than ever. Optimum GAT will really help with that. We have about 20,000 Optimum GAT soybean lines in tests this year. Next year, we’ll double that.”