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Agrimarketing : November December 2008
PROVIDING DIVIDENDS/continued frompage 26 one (Syngenta), the family of HERCULEX traitsmore than dou- bled its sales last year, according to independentmarket research reports. Credit this achievement to themarket research the teamdid in advance of the product’s launch and the imaginative business plan that resulted fromit being executed properly. Normallywhen a newproduct is launched, it is done so through the developer’s regular channel. “The marketingmodel for traits ismuch different though,” Kaehler says. “Research shows thatmost growers first choose a seed brand and then select the trait(s). “Also, seed companieswanted another choice of traits and genetics to offer growers.HERCULEX pro- vides an alternative that has unique differentiated characteristics.” TomWiltrout, Global Seeds Leader for DowAgroSciences, explains, “So, after evaluating the marketplace,we chose to offer HERCULEX XTRAthroughmultiple market access points. “Firstwas through our own Mycogen brand seed corn, and sec- HERCULEXwas one of the first products to come fromthe DowAgroSciences biotech pipeline. The company looks forward to launching other innovative traits over the next decade—and beyond. ondwas through licensing the trait to other seed companies. By licens- ing,we are able toworkwithmore than 150 seed companies to provide the trait to their customers. “Our seed company licensees have access tomany outstanding traits and technologies, sowe needed towork closelywith themto demonstrate the advantages of INVENTION Dr.Kenneth E.Narva, Group Leader ofmolecular genetics, discovery research, for DowAgroSciences is creditedwith assisting in the discovery of the traits thatmake up the family ofHERCULEX traits, including HERCULEX XTRAInsect Protection, and holds several of the patents relat- ing toHERCULEX. “I first startedworking on the Bt gene in 1989 when IwaswithMycogen,while itwas located in the San Diego area, before its acquisition by Dow AgroSciences in 1998,” he reports. “At that time,we knewwe had Bts that controlled themajor insect pests of corn, and corn rootwormwas a primary focus of our research. “Mycogen had several thousand Bt strains for us to experimentwith,whichwas the largest collection in the industry.Everybodywasworking to identify which single Bt genewas themost effective and had the widest spectrumof activity.” He tried something different, though.He thought a combination of Dr.Narva genes should be tried.He began testing and hit upon a combination of two that produced the best results for rootwormcontrol. But thatwas only the beginning of his quest.He also needed to find a way to get the gene into plants in a commercially viableway. “Common technology at the timewas to literally ‘shoot’ genes into the corn plant,”Narva explains. “Iworked closelywith the scientists from Dowand Pioneer,withwhomMycogen had partnered, andwe developed away to express the genes together, precisely as needed. Thatway, the pro- duction of the trait could be ramped upmuchmore quickly.” AM 28 AgriMarketing s November/December 2008 HERCULEX XTRAand the improved performance delivered by its broader insect spectrum.” Convincing seed companies early on thatHERCULEXwas good for themand their customerswas critical to gain- ing adoption with growers. To accomplish it, a dedicated sales teamwas cre- ated thatworked with licensee seed companies to plan the best path to developing hybrids for their lineup. It also helped to have two Wiltrout ag industry powerhouses, Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer, involved in the launch. Kaehler reports, “The companies cooperated in developing a branding plan thatwas consistent, yet flexible enough for each com- pany to position the trait differently if needed. Thiswas key to develop- ing a high level of brand awareness with growers. “Then, once growers started using it, they helped spread the news of the performance ofHERCULEX to themarketplace.” Formore on theHERCULEX team’smarketing and communica- tions activities, see Page 32. LOOKING AHEAD The original positioning of HERCULEX XTRAhas paid signifi-
American Seed Trade Association