Two years after Syngenta’s acquisition of Abbott & Cobb, promising new varieties are on the horizon.
Nearly two years after leading agriculture company Syngenta acquired Abbott & Cobb, a 100-year-old company specializing in vegetable breeding, some benefits of the purchase are emerging. By bringing the Abbott & Cobb (A&C) germplasm into the Syngenta fold, breeders have been able to combine A&C’s exceptional eating quality traits and early maturity with the strengths of the Syngenta portfolio.
Glenn McKay, Regional Portfolio Manager Americas for Syngenta, says growers will see the first new variety resulting from crossing A&C and Syngenta technologies in November of 2020.
“A new bicolor corn developed for the southeast shipper market will be available for the 2021 growing season,” McKay says. “The variety will be named BSS2542, and it has all the important attributes necessary for a market-leading variety, including strong stable yields, great ear size and shape for crating, excellent disease resistance, and a longer harvest window. It’s an exciting new variety, and we’re confident growers will realize significant value as it becomes established in the market.”
Focus Is on Grower- and Consumer-Friendly Qualities
McKay says the focus in the new varieties resulting from the A&C-Syngenta breeding is improving seed quality, shelf life, yield, eating quality, kernel color, and disease resistance.
“There are several of our advanced experimental varieties that have those traits combined with the industry-leading Attribute II trait package for strong above-ground lepidopteran control and broad-spectrum herbicide tolerance for the fresh market,” McKay says. “Overall, these traits will increase yield, lower production costs for the grower, and improve consumer demand.”
Syngenta is committed to providing tools to growers to help them produce more food on fewer acres as fertile farmland is lost to urbanization, McKay says. The traits in the new varieties will be able to do that.
Javier Martinez-Cabrera, Syngenta Head of Vegetables Seeds North America agrees.
“These past two years the Syngenta team has worked diligently to integrate the A&C product portfolio, with full integration targeted for 2020,” he says. “Merging the germplasms has led to the development of promising new hybrids for multiple worldwide markets. The new hybrids feature improved benefits such as: good disease resistance, stronger plants, high eating quality, visual appearance and overall marketability.”
Committed to Grower Success
Having such a plethora of genetic riches, which includes pumpkins, peppers and other squash in addition to corn, does come with a problem, however.
“The only challenge is how to identify and prioritize so many good varieties that have resulted from the crosses of the two programs,” McKay says. “Frankly, it’s a bit overwhelming!”
It can be a challenge sometimes to ask a portfolio manager what his favorite varieties are, but McKay answers without hesitation, saying his favorite A&C variety “without a doubt” is Glacial.
“Glacial is an innovative 79-day white sh2 variety that is performing very well globally in most temperate growing locations in different markets, including processing, fresh market, and the shipper market,” McKay says. “Specifically I really appreciate the beautiful pure-white color and the tenderness and sweetness of Glacial. There are several new versions of Glacial in bicolor and yellow that are quickly being advanced in our breeding program. Those types will hit the market toward the end of 2021.”
Martinez-Cabrera says Syngenta takes its committment to growers seriously.
“We’re committed to providing excellent sales support and production expertise to facilitate grower success,” he says. “Syngenta continues to stay true to its founding principles by producing superior vegetable seeds and investing in research and development to continually offer the highest quality products in the industry.”