Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company, an internationally recognized leader in the development, production and marketing of cotton planting seed, has acquired the Helena cotton research program from Helena Chemical Company.

According to Thomas F. "Bud" Hughes, Stoneville president, the Helena cotton research program gives Stoneville a pipeline of new products already in development, as well as additional cotton breeding stocks with high-quality fiber and crop maturities suited for midseason to full-season production in the Southeast and the lower Mid-South.

"This acquisition is all about broadening the varieties available from Stoneville by giving additional support to mid-to-full season markets like the Southeastern states," Hughes said. "Purchasing the Helena cotton research program adds cotton breeding material that complements the existing Stoneville germplasm base. It also adds a pipeline of value-added transgenic varieties already in development with Roundup Ready and stacked Bollgard/Roundup Ready products. The ultimate goal, of course, is to crossbreed the Helena cotton research germplasm with existing Stoneville germplasm to make new pedigrees of cotton varieties and then to incorporate valuable transgenes into those new products."

Mike McCarty, Helena president/CEO, said, "We feel good about having somebody of Stoneville's caliber taking our germplasm program to the next level. We know the germplasm that we have worked hard to develop will continue in the marketplace and growers will benefit from it."

Don Panter, Stoneville vice president for research and development, expects the germplasm will be developed into transgenic and conventional varieties. "In fact, transgenic versions of some of the products in the program are close to commercial release," Panter said. "Because of this acquisition, coupled with Stoneville's competencies in bringing products to market quickly and confidently, growers can look forward to new transgenic varieties from this program within two to three years."

Milton Allen, Helena vice president of crop protection products and seed, said, "Ever since we started the Helena cotton research program, we have bred specifically for high-quality fiber with competitive yield potential. We have taken the program to that level, and Stoneville will take it to growers' fields."

The Helena germplasm acquisition follows on the heels of Stoneville's purchase of the stripper cotton breeding programs of Brownfield Seed and Delinting Company in early 2000, and Holland Cotton seed in 1997.

"The cotton seed business is about one thing: the future." Hughes said. "We have to invest money into germplasm and research if we want Stoneville and our customers to be competitive in tomorrow's market, and that is exactly what we are doing. Since adding germplasm broadens our breeding capabilities, strategic germplasm acquisitions benefit the future of Stoneville, and ultimately, cotton producers."

Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Co. is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., with research and development sites and seed production facilities located across the United States and internationally. Breeding cotton since 1922, the company provides conventional and transgenic varieties.