BASF Plant Science and Germany-based KWS SAAT AG announced today a collaboration in plant biotechnology. The objectives for the long-term project are developing sugar beet varieties for the global market with higher sugar and energy yields as well as greater drought tolerance. The partners aim to bring the new varieties with 15 % higher yields to the market from 2020 onwards.
"Within this cooperation, KWS and BASF will bundle their breeding and biotechnology skills to develop genetically enhanced sugar beet. This shows our company's clear commitment to the sugar beet crop and is a meaningful addition to our classic plant breeding work," said Dr. Günter Strittmatter, Head of Research at KWS SAAT AG.
"This step will help strengthen our position on the global market. We are aiming for increased yields of 15 %, which will make the cultivation of sugar beet considerably more competitive and enable farmers to enjoy further cost benefits. As a result, yields of 20 tons of sugar per hectare will become standard," added Dr. Peter Hofmann, Head of the Sugar Beet Division at KWS.
"We are very happy to enter into this partnership with KWS, the market leader in sugar beet and a global seed company," said Marc Ehrhardt, Group Vice President at BASF Plant Science. "This agreement is another example of BASF's strategy in plant biotechnology. As a technology partner to the seed industry, we want to combine the best genetic traits with the best germplasm in each crop. This will allow farmers around the world to benefit from high-yielding varieties and thus gain efficiency," he added.
Through the agreement, BASF Plant Science is expanding its biotechnology work into the sugar beet industry. KWS is a leading global player in plant breeding and world market leader in sugar beet seed. Last year, the company achieved a market share of 70% in North America with genetically improved herbicide resistant sugar beet varieties.
While BASF is bringing validated yield genes and plant biotechnology know-how to the table, KWS is contributing experience in sugar beet breeding through conventional and biotechnological methods and is transferring the selected genes into the best varieties. Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed.