Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back from Ag Progress Days.

Talked to some seed company reps, and it looks like the avalanche of new seed traits may have slowed down - nothing really outrageous or novel in the works for 2007. For the years 1999-2006, it seemed like every year we'd get a new cluster of genetic modifications - first Yieldgard (Bt cornborer insecticidal) & Roundup Ready (herbicide product-specific resistant), then Liberty Link (another class of herbicide resistance), Clearfield (yet another class of herbicide-resistance), then Yieldgard-RW (Bt rootworm insecticidal), Herculex I (the next generation of Bt-like insecticidal, cornborer), Yieldgard Plus (Bt stacked both cornborer & rootworm), Herculex RW (see above, for rootworm), Herculex Extra (Herculex equivalent of Yieldgard Plus), and then more triple- and quadruple-stack varieties than you could keep track of in spreadsheet format.

It's getting increasingly hard to keep track of which varieties are trait-stacked with which varieties, as every company has its own nomenclature. But it seems to definitely be slowing down. No new traits, and the companies with Herculex are starting to retire their Yieldgard varieties. But that barely makes up for the confusion which is Garst. They started out with a slate of generic sort-of traits which mimicked the trademarked, IP-protected traits from Monsanto - Roundup Ready became GT, or Glyphosate Tolerant, Agrisure CB was synonymous with YG1, both of them being Yieldgard (Cornborer), etc. Then a bunch of company mergers brought the two lines of IP into corporate contact, and suddenly Garst is selling seeds for both sets of IP side-by-side. It's enough to give one a headache.

There was a stand selling Ribeye sandwiches and steak-and-egg sandwiches. The steak-and-cheese-and-egg was great, especially after an hour standing under the noon sun in a cornfield listening to a presentation on no-till & methods for measuring crop residue & soil field quality.

The corn and soybeans are doing insanely well here in Pennsylvania. I literally did not recognize the soybean fields at first - I've never seen them this high, this perfect-looking. Not only are the corn stands running between eight and ten feet, they're doing so uniformly. We didn't get all that much rain - Spring Creek is alarmingly low - but it all hit at exactly the right time for really, really pretty fields. Gorgeous.

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