Oilseeds and Sugar beet
Vegetable oils made from sunflower and oilseed rape are preferred by consumers because they are relatively high in unsaturated fats. High consumer demand makes these plants attractive for growers, as does their yield stability under adverse growing conditions and benefits to the entire production system, particularly in rotation with cereals.
Oilseeds: Improving yield and oil content
In recent years, cultivation of sunflower has flourished – these markets now account for 75 percent of global output. Often, growers’ first impulse is to expand acreage. But to maximize the sustainability of the crop, they need to focus on the type and quality of seed used. Syngenta has made significant emerging market investments in this crop over the last decade. We are driving the shift towards high performing hybrid varieties through the introduction of best-in-class genetics adapted to local conditions. Superior germplasm leads to enhanced stability under stress and to yield increases that are further accelerated by applying our leading Seed Care products. In addition, we regularly launch varieties with specific native traits such as herbicide tolerance, high oleic acid composition and disease resistance.
Selected acquisitions have augmented our world leadership in sunflower. Acquired in 2008, SPS has broadened our reach by establishing our presence in the mid-value segment in Argentina. Our acquisition of Monsanto’s global sunflower business was concluded at the end of 2010 and complements our existing germplasm strength in a number of markets. Syngenta operates a global network of sunflower breeding stations that target all aspects of yield improvement, as well as traits to address stress tolerance or fatty acid composition.
In northern Europe, oilseed rape is grown to serve both the edible oil and biodiesel markets. Hybridization is driving growth in value, and Syngenta is providing high-performing hybrids with Seed Care combinations for strong crop establishment. In Canada, where oilseed rape is grown as canola, Syngenta sells a range of crop protection chemicals for application throughout the season.
Sugar beet: Capturing value for growers
Sugar beet is an industrial crop used in food processing, as well as in biogas and ethanol production. For growers in Western and Central Europe, it is already a high value crop. But in Eastern Europe, while acreage and volumes are high, there is substantial scope to increase seed quality. In 2010, Syngenta consolidated its European business through the acquisition of the Maribo® brand, sold in 35 countries, together with its seed production and sales activities.
The size of the sugar beet market in the USA has doubled in value since 2008, following the introduction of glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet and the expansion of seed treatment. Growers’ rapid adoption of glyphosate tolerance, which in 2010 represented 95 percent of the market, demonstrates the ability of biotechnology to transform the economics of growing a crop. The threatened curtailment of biotech sugar beet planting on legal procedural grounds would halve the supply of sugar in the USA.