Competition comes to a cottonseed market largely held by one company when Bayer CropScience brings GlyTol to the market in 2010.
Bayer announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted approval for GlyTol cotton technology, a trait with resistance to glyphosate, the herbicide to which Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready trait is tolerant.
"I do think there will be interest, how much I don't think we'll know," Georgia Peanut Commission Executive Director Richey Seaton says. "But the more traits and the more varieties we have will give farmers the opportunity to choose what's best for their farms."
"Hopefully it brings more competition to the market," said Monty Christian, Bayer's director of Global Cotton Marketing.
Christian pointed to the company's 3.4 billion euro commitment to research and development between 2008 and 2012. That a significant chunk of that money is going into the company's cotton division should encourage U.S. growers, Christian said. U.S. cotton production dropped by more than 10 million bales since 2004.
"Even in down acres, you've got a company like Bayer bringing something to the market," Christian said. "
Since Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready cotton in 1997, no company has offered a glyphosate-tolerant product in direct competition. At that time, Monsanto did not own a cottonseed company and instead licensed the trait to other seed companies that used it in their breeding programs.
Bayer was one of those companies, but it also offered the lone alternative in the market. Bayer brought LibertyLink cotton to the market in 2002. LibertyLink, however, in many ways is the apple to Roundup Ready's orange. It's resistant to gluphosinate. As such, LibertyLink in recent years won more interest from battling glyphosate-resistant weeds. Bayer is the market leader in the U.S. cotton seed industry, with a total market share of nearly 47% last year. Yet, though Bayer's market share increased dramatically over the last three years with its Stoneville and FiberMax brands, it hasn't penetrated the Southeast as deeply as DeltaPine, now a division of Monsanto and the leading supplier of cottonseed in the Southeast. DeltaPine gave up only a fifth of the Southeast market to other cottonseed suppliers in 2008.
Initially, GlyTol won't make that inroad either. Bayer first plans to market GlyTol cotton varieties in its strongest market: the Southwest.
"We are comprehensively preparing for a commercial launch of GlyTol in the United States in 2010," Christian said. The company initially plans to offer two high-yielding, high-quality Gly Tol cotton seed varieties that are ideally suited to the Southwest region of the United States.
The Southeast growing region can look for commercial availability of GlyTol varieties in 2012. By then, Christian said, Bayer will offer GlyTol varieties stacked with TwinLink, a dual-Bt trait in development. TwinLink will compete with WideStrike and Bollgard II.
"When it's stacked with the dual Bt, that's when there will be the most widespread adoption," Christian said.
In the meantime, what growers expect from GlyTol? Christian says GlyTol glyphosate-tolerant technology gives cotton growers season-long in-plant tolerance to glyphosate herbicide and offers them the freedom of greater flexibility in their weed management decisions.
Bayer says GlyTol is just the latest in a series of innovative weed and insect management solutions. The company says it's committed to further improving cotton and has a well-filled development pipeline of plant traits to be launched in the coming years.
More information on Bayer and GlyTol are available at http://www.bayercropscience.com.