Monsanto Counters Criticism Of Low Yields

Monsanto on Sept. 15 said early harvest data showed some of its corn seed products planted on U. S. farms outyielding competition, a bright spot for a company beseiged by a range of competitive and legal pressures.

Monsanto announced the data a day after rival DuPont said it was gaining market share in U. S. corn and soy seed sales as farmers migrated to its products.

Monsanto said harvest data was limited so far, but one corn product – a genetically altered seed for control of earworm called Genuity VT Triple PRO Corn – showed a yield advantage of 8.5 bushels per acre versus competitors in 1,400 comparisons.

“Eight and a half bushels is pretty significant… a really positive outcome,” said Brett Begemann, Monsanto’s executive vice-president of seeds and traits in a presentation to a Credit Suisse chemical and agriculture conference.

Monsanto said there was not enough data to offer yield findings for the larger U. S. central corn belt or the western corn belt.

Begemann also said the company could not yet provide early harvest data for its new generation of Roundup Ready soybeans, dubbed Roundup Ready 2 Yield.

“The feedback we have been hearing… has been nothing short of very positive,” he said. “We simply have to wait until the soybeans mature… for that trial data to come in.”

Monsanto’s marketing of Roundup Ready 2 Yield has been fraught with complaints. Several studies by agricultural experts have alleged that Monsanto’s advertised claims of higher yields for the new soybean seed were not realized last season. There were also widespread complaints about high prices for the seed.

Begemann said a range of changes in marketing and pricing the seed has improved farmer views of the product.

Monsanto’s woes have come as rival DuPont gains. DuPont this month announced seed price increases to its customers, while Monsanto has been lowering prices and unbundling product offerings to counter customer complaints.

Begemann acknowledged Monsanto has lost share in the soybean market and said its share was flat in corn, but he said the company was more focused on volume growth than market share.

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