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Syngenta Enters U.S. Sunflower Seed Market

Sunday, November 1, 2009
filed under: Hybrid Selection/Planting

A prominent new player has entered the U.S. sunflower seed business: Syngenta.

In August, Syngenta AG, the world’s largest manufacturer of agricultural chemicals, announced it was purchasing Monsanto’s hybrid sunflower seed business, adding it to the Syngenta Seeds division of the company. Syngenta accounted for more than $200 million in worldwide sunflower seed sales during 2008, making it the global leader. Until the recent purchase, however, Syngenta did not have a direct U.S. sunflower presence.

With this fall’s launch of the Syngenta sunflower brand, hybrids that previously were sold under the DEKALB and Garst designations will now be marketed under the Syngenta brand. Although previous brand designations will be dropped, the hybrid numbers (e.g., 3731 NS) will be maintained. “We believe the hybrid numbers are the most familiar to producers, and it is our intention to preserve these designations during this launch year,” says Jim Johnson, Syngenta Seeds’ Fargo, N.D.-based sunflower marketing/product manager. “All new hybrids will be named using the Syngenta naming method, however.”

Syngenta is adding three sunflower-dedicated sales agronomists — one based in North Dakota, another in South Dakota and the third in the High Plains. “They will work with the Syngenta corn and soybean selling teams to make sure our dealer network is fully up to speed with the most up-to-date data and information about our products,” says Johnson, who previously served as sunflower product manager for Monsanto.

Johnson says discussions have begun with Syngenta’s global research and development group to determine the best way to breed and develop new sunflower hybrids for North America. “By combining the Syngenta and Monsanto germplasm pools in our breeding program, we believe new top-yielding products with traits needed for our market will be developed,” he states. “It truly is an exciting time for Syngenta and for the sunflower industry as we find ways to compete and expand sunflower acreage and market share.”

Dave Sippell is head of the Oilseeds NAFTA group within Syngenta and leads the new sunflower team. Bill Gilbert is serving as sunflower sales manager for Syngenta Seeds.

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