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It Starts With Seed - 7       09/17 05:00

   Seed Company Leadership Profiles

   The following are profiles of leadership within the four companies that 
dominate the sales of agricultural seeds in the United States: BASF, Bayer, 
Corteva and Syngenta.

Pamela Smith
Crops Technology Editor

   They are often called "The Big Four." BASF, Bayer, Corteva and Syngenta now 
dominate the sales of agricultural seeds in the United States. Other firms, 
including at least 100 independent seed companies, also play a vital role in 
the industry.

   DTN/Progressive Farmer has been running a special series called It Starts 
With Seed to help farmers start thinking about their seed purchases and 
preparing for next year.

   In this, the seventh and last story of the series, we present the following 
Q&A profiles put faces to leadership within the megaplayers and sort through 
the brands they sell.



   Garth Hodges has more than 35 years of experience in agricultural business 
across several countries. Born and educated in South Africa, Hodges began his 
career in field research and development of crop-protection products. He joined 
BASF through the acquisition of Bayer's Seeds and Traits business. In January 
2020, he became vice president of the North American Seed and Trait business 
for BASF, leading the field crops seed business.

   Seed brands: Credenz, Xitavo, InVigor, FiberMax, Stoneville, Ideltis, Nunhems

   Q: What makes seed unique within your company portfolio?

   A: Almost three years ago, BASF made a significant decision and commitment 
to seeds with the acquisition of a multicrop seed business from Bayer. It was a 
unique purchase because it was focused entirely on seed. The company continues 
to invest in these seed assets, and the brands are growing in value across 
North America. More important is the ability to provide solutions for growers 
and the ability to connect crop protection, seed treatment, seeds and traits, 
digital, sustainability and agronomic advice to provide a partnership with our 

   Q: Considering the consolidation within the seed industry in recent years, 
what questions do you want farmers asking of you?

   A: Growers need to know that seed companies are continuing to invest in 
innovation and keeping up with the ever-changing challenges growers face for 
profitability and sustainability. They need to be certain this innovation is 
conducted safely and with care for the environment. Proactively thinking and 
acting with solutions in mind, and connecting all the elements will ensure the 
very best outcome for the grower.

   Q: What new seed products are you bringing to market?

   This year, 2021, BASF successfully launched Xitavo, a new soybean brand, 
with the Enlist E3 trait alongside its traditional Credenz brand. Hybrid wheat 
finally has a name -- Ideltis -- and we hope for introduction in mid-century. 
We continue to make significant investments and advancements in germplasm 
enhancement and hybrid wheat breeding. Our focus now is on hybrid wheat seed 
production and tackling each of the challenges, breaking new ground and 
innovating along the journey. InVigor canola market share grows with continued 
focus on hybrid performance, adaptation, yield, disease management and unique 
pod shatter tolerance features. Both our cotton brands, FiberMax and Stoneville 
cotton, are growing market share by delivering value to growers with new 
varieties and improved performance. We plan to launch new traits for more 
options in weed management soon.

   Q: What is the biggest challenge the seed industry faces today?

   A: On a macro level, we face societal challenges to innovation and new 
technologies -- growing food, fiber and fuel sustainably is vital -- yet as an 
industry we remain rather fragmented. The challenge is how to partner within 
the industry and with growers, plus consumers to build confidence and trust so 
we can face the challenges and responsibly harness the advancements in 
innovation. Mother Nature poses many unique challenges of environment, weed, 
disease and insect resistance. The quest to solve them is the fuel that drives 
our insatiable hunger for solutions and innovation.



   Jackie Applegate is responsible for the commercial performance of Bayer Crop 
Science in the United States and Canada. Applegate, who holds a Ph.D. in 
organic chemistry, began her career in 1992 as a chemist at Bayer, has held a 
variety of leadership positions and is now president of Crop Science North 
America and Environmental Science Divisions. She grew up in Union, Ohio.

   Seed brands: DEKALB, Asgrow, Deltapine, Channel, Fontanelle, Gold Country 
Seed, Jung, Hubner, Kruger, Lewis, Rea Hybrids, Specialty, Stewart, Stone, 
WestBred Seminis, De Ruiter

   Q: What makes seed unique within your company portfolio?

   A: We think beyond the seed to a more holistic approach to help growers 
maximize their return on investment. Through FieldView, our leading digital 
platform, we're connecting growers to data-based recommendations that can help 
them select the most productive hybrid seeds.

   Our goal is to combine seed, crop-protection products and other inputs to 
work together to deliver greater value to our dealer partners and growers in 
their operations. As a market leader in seeds and traits, we offer a germplasm 
library that provides options growers need to make the most of every acre.

   Q: What attributes do you think your customer should be considering, and how 
does that influence your go-to-market?

   A: Since taking this role earlier this year, one of my top priorities has 
been to listen to our farmer-customers and seed dealers to better understand 
what's on their minds and the challenges they face. And, I'm grateful for their 
candor and honest feedback.

   Farmers want strong partners that provide farmer-centric solutions. We know 
that agriculture is facing more challenges than ever, and more tools and 
flexibility are needed to help growers maximize the opportunities on their 
farms. Our role is making sure we have the right product for our customers at 
the right place, at the right time with the agronomic support they need to back 
it up.

   Q: What new seed products are you bringing to market? Why are they important?

   A: We launched XtendFlex soybeans this year with strong grower adoption, 
providing more flexibility and greater weed control. We also announced key 
approvals on SmartStax PRO for corn and ThryvOn Technology for cotton, both 
providing unique modes of action addressing key pests for growers.

   Looking ahead, we're excited about our fourth- and fifth-generation soy 
technologies, which will provide even greater weed control and flexibility to 
growers. We also believe that our short-stature corn will be a game-changing 
technology, providing numerous benefits to growers, including more precise 
in-season management and the ability to withstand more severe weather.

   Q: What will the seed company look like in five years? 10 years?

   A: By leveraging the data pool of FieldView, Bayer is uniquely positioned to 
unlock untapped potential for growers by analyzing more information faster and 
generating insights through tools utilizing artificial intelligence to develop 
a "tailored solutions" approach. These outcome-based recommendations help 
simplify the decision-making process for the grower, driving better outcomes 
and benefiting farmers' bottom line.

   We are also working to create opportunities for growers to tap into new 
revenue streams through initiatives like our Bayer Carbon Program, paying 
growers for implementing climate-smart farming practices that help sequester 



   Judd O'Connor grew up in northeast Kansas. His career has been spent in 
various aspects of crop chemical and seeds business in the U.S. and Latin 
America. He was instrumental in bringing Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and DuPont 
together into what is now Corteva Agriscience. He is now president of the U.S. 
Commercial business for Corteva.

   Seed brands: Pioneer, Brevant Seeds, AgVenture, Alforex Seeds, Dairyland 
Seed, Hoegemeyer Hybrids, NuTech Seed, PhytoGen, Seed Consultants

   Q: As a company, how do you keep in touch with what is happening in the 
field and make sure you are delivering to farmers?

   A: Our teams are in boots on the ground, belly-to-belly conversations with 
the grower. We are an ag company, and we put the farmer at the center of 
everything we do. For us, the industry is still 100% about making sure we're 
doing a better job bringing innovative solutions and doing it in a way that we 
meet our farmer-customers where they want to be met. That means doing business 
with them in the ways they prefer.

   Q: Where does seed fit within the Corteva portfolio? How important is it?

   A: It's critical. It is the biggest piece of our business, particularly in 
the U.S., which takes nothing away from our rich crop-production portfolio. 
Seed is foundational. We are investing heavily to continue to develop germplasm 
to bring more yield and more economic and defensive traits.

   Pioneer, our flagship seed brand, offers high service and the 
highest-performing products in the marketplace with unique genetics. We also 
launched Brevant as a retail brand to serve customers who want to make all 
their input purchases from one full-service location. We also have regional 
brands that are local and focused on specific geographies.

   Q: What new products are coming from Corteva?

   A: On the corn side, we will be fully ramped up with Qrome products in 2022. 
We'll continue to bring those in a broader portfolio of improved genetics with 
a balance of insect protection and agronomic performance. We will be bringing 
several new trait platforms to our corn lineup over the next few years that 
will help manage pests, control weeds and add flexibility, while continuing to 
bring improved yields and agronomic traits. In soybeans, we had a big launch 
this year with Enlist E3 soybeans, and we expect to see continued adoption, as 
we have an even broader portfolio that offers weed control and crop safety. 
This year, we also launched Inzen technology, a nontransgenic, ALS-tolerant 
trait in Pioneer brand grain sorghum.

   Q: What is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

   A: Farmers are experiencing some commodity markets right now that they've 
not had in some time, and we should be proud about the progress the industry 
has made during the past decades in driving productivity. But, if I had to pick 
one challenge, it is the need to make sure new technologies are accessible, 
both at the farm gate, as well as in export markets around the world. The 
challenge for the industry to keep innovation science-based rather than 
politicized is real.



   Justin Wolfe was raised on a wheat farm in northern Montana and brings 
nearly 30 years of U.S. and international agriculture industry experience. He 
was appointed North America Regional Director for Syngenta Seeds in June 2020. 
Currently located in Chicago, he is responsible for overall leadership and 
operations of the seeds business for the region.

   Seed brands: Golden Harvest Seeds, NK Seeds, Enogen Fuel and Feed, AgriPro 

   Vegetable seeds portfolio consists of 30 vegetable species and more than 
2,500 varieties.

   Q: What makes seed unique within your company portfolio?

   A: In the U.S., Syngenta Seeds offers two corn and soybean brands, NK and 
Golden Harvest, with different go-to-market strategies. Golden Harvest works 
through Seed Advisors, which provides a close partnership and service to 
farmers. NK works with ag retail partners, who provide whole farmer service 
options for seed, crop protection and fertilizer. We also have a strong 
licensing seed business with Greenleaf Genetics, which services independent 
seed companies. AgriPro wheat offers farmers leading cereal genetics.

   Q: What Syngenta seed products do farmers need to know about?

   A: For farmers looking to diversify their operation, NK and Golden Harvest 
offer exclusive soybean genetics with a broad trait choice. Golden Harvest is 
also offering Gold Series soybeans, providing farmers proven performance with 
broad herbicide trait choice options. Our corn business has benefited from a 
revamped portfolio with new genetics featuring elite traits. We have introduced 
60% more hybrids per year, increasing the number of new, high-performing corn 
products for precision placement with increased testing and trialing efforts in 
recent years.

   This year, NK launched its Field Forged Series, which features several 
proven hybrids and varieties, as well as the latest portfolio additions, now 
available for the 2022 growing season to provide farmers clarity and 
confidence. Enogen corn for feed delivers a potential 5% increase in feed 
efficiency, which offers significant opportunity for farmers to reduce their 
environmental footprint of livestock production through reduced emissions and 
natural resource usage.

   Q: What is the biggest challenge the seed industry faces today?

   A: Climate change certainly poses a major challenge, not only in the seed 
industry but across the global agricultural landscape. Farmers are dealing with 
volatile weather conditions every season that require innovative solutions to 
help protect their crops. The products we're developing are focused on helping 
farmers sustain their operations against these changing conditions. For 
example, our Agrisure Artesian corn hybrids contain multiple genes for 
seasonlong drought protection that provide water optimization to help maximize 
yield in water stress situations.


   Editor's Note: This is the seventh and final story in our special It Starts 
With Seed series.

   Here are links to the previous six stories:

   It Starts With Seed - 1

   Crop Breeding Efforts for Climate Extremes

   It Starts With Seed - 2

   Seed E-Commerce is a Growing Business

   It Starts With Seed - 3

   Chart Identifies Seed Treatment Products, Active Ingredients

   It Starts With Seed - 4

   Bt Trait Table for Corn Production Clarifies Insect Traits

   It Starts With Seed - 5

   Growing Seed Offers Farmers Financial Opportunities

   It Starts With Seed - 6

   Seed Tags List Important Information

   Pam Smith can be reached at

   Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

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