Seed companies add capabilities

10/13/2011 04:28:00 PM
Chris Koger

Seed breeder-producers don’t just sell seeds anymore.

Many seed companies, in an effort to become more vertically-integrated and expand their economies of scope, have added disease and plant management, growing capabilities and even marketing capabilities to their lineups.

“As the seed companies have developed adaptive business models, we’ve stepped out of only just supplying seeds,” said Andreas Steiner, director of marketing for Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta.

Some seed companies now grow and sell transplants, especially for commodities like watermelon.

“Traditionally, we would sell the seed to a greenhouse grower to grow the transplant, but now we sell the transplant directly from the seed producer,” said Wayne Gale, president and co-owner of Stokes Seeds Ltd., a Thorold, Ontario-based seed distributor. “That’s been around for a few years, but it’s still growing.”

Syngenta offers transplants in commodities that require them, including watermelon. By purchasing transplants instead of seed, growers don’t have to worry about working propagating varieties into their fields, and can use 100% of their growing space for fruit or vegetables they can sell.

Syngenta takes it a stage further, and also works with Dulcinea Farms as its marketing agent. Dulcinea markets a few select Syngenta melon varieties, including the Pure Heart seedless watermelon, the Ruby Bliss mid-size watermelon, and a Tuscan-style cantaloupe. Ruby Bliss was piloted last year, and was bred to have firm flesh.

“We created Dulcinea Farms as another business model for Syngenta focused on delivering very unique varieties focused on taste,” Steiner said.

For San Diego-based Ahern International, its new Integrated Solutions program opens new doors for the company in grower support.

“We’re currently working with growers in Northern Baja and Central Mexico offering them seed varieties along with specialists on plant pathology, plant nutrition and introduction to root stock,” said Ana Maria Cota, sales representative for West Mexico and Arizona. “This includes mini (expositions) where we give presentations and plant evaluations.”

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