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Agrimarketing : November December 2012
This past year 's severe drought proved to be a worthy challenge ... and an opportunity ... for DuPont Pioneer's Optimum AQUAmax corn hybrids, winner of Agri Marketing's 2012 NEW Product of the Year award. Specifically developed for drought conditions, Optimum AQUmax hybrids were able to shine, verifying their value by not only out yielding competitive products in water-limited areas, but also by holding their own in areas with normal rainfall. Initially launched in 2011 with eight hybrids, Optimum AQUAmax hybrids featured another 14 of the 154 new Pioneer brand hybrids and integrated refuge products introduced in 2012. Offering hybrids in the 96 to 116 comparative relative maturity (CRM) range, Optimum AQUAmax was the first broad launch of any natural-trait or transgenic drought resistance corn across commercial acres. DEVELOPMENT Of course, hybrid development doesn't happen overnight. "We've been conducting drought tolerance research for almost 60 years, beginning with the opening of our York, NE, research facility in the 1950s," says Josh St. Peters of DuPont Pioneer. "And that research has been done in facilities throughout the U.S. and internationally, as well, to give us a wide view of varying weather, soils and other cropping conditions." St. Peters managed the expansion of the Optimum AQUAmax product line, serving as Corn Marketing Manager. He knows what it takes to develop and bring a new hybrid to market. A native of Greenville, IL, and a 2003 University of Illinois ag communications graduate, St. Peters has been with DuPont Pioneer for over three years and has also worked for GROWMARK, Illinois Farm Bureau and Brownfield Ag News. In his role with DuPont Pioneer, he was responsible for leading the North American development of near-term marketing strategies and tactics, working with all the company's business units to launch the product. The Pioneer research network includes eight managed stress testing locations across the U.S. and Chile and over 12,500 on-farm comparisons, product advancement tests and research trials. One of the key research centers was the Pioneer Woodland, CA, research center which is located in a region that gets virtually no rainfall during the year, making it a prime location to test hybrids in water-limited environments. Others included Garden City, KS; LaSalle, CO; Manhattan, KS; Plainview, TX; Kinston, NC, and Viluco, Chile. As with all their new hybrids, Pioneer used a proprietary Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT) system to develop Optimum AQUAmax. "AYT is a powerful tool that allows researchers to look at the whole genome," reports St. Peters. "It was a key process to identify native traits for drought tolerance for Optimum AQUAmax." The AYT system mines Pioneer 's extensive collection of corn germplasm to select for and advance the best genetic traits to meet particular product needs. In the case of Optimum AQUAmax product development, the system helps researchers select for traits that help hybrids better succeed in water- limited environments, including building greater root mass, better coordinating pollination with silking and improving staygreen. Through a combination of precision phenotyping, molecular breeding and integrated data management, Pioneer breeders are able to advance products to field testing with improved efficiency and more targeted trait advancement. That was the research route taken for the Optimum AQUAmax hybrids. "We have a substantial history in understanding drought tolerance," says St. Peters. "We could score every hybrid for its unique responses to environmental conditions. With the AYT system, we were able to advance the best products faster, bringing them to market in just two years." STRONG PERFORMANCE In 2011, farm trials in the western U.S. indicated that Optimum AQUAmax corn hybrids were strong performers, offering real yield advantages for growers, especially in water-limited environments. These were actually more than trials, they were product introductions. Speaking at a press briefing at the 2012 Commodity Classic, Dr. Jeff Schussler, Pioneer Senior Research Manager, said the research results showed that Pioneer breeders had selected positive native traits to develop Optimum AQUAmax hybrids. "It's very rewarding to see large- scale, on-farm field testing validate the performance of Optimum AQUAmax hybrids," says 26 Agri Marketing November/December 2012 2012 NEW Product Of The Year TACKLING WATER-LIMITED CONDITIONS by Mike Gustafson, Deer's Landing (more on page 28)
Marketing Services Guide 2013