Condon, in his talk with U.S. journalists, turned his attention also to the rising biological business. Bayer CropScience purchased Agraquest - a California company focused on biological control of crop pests and disease - in late 2012. Condon explains that Bayer CropScience has moved quickly to bring Agraquest into the fold and start working on how its products will be marketed for the future.
For 2013, Bayer CropScience has more than 3,000 plots out for demonstration and test with Agraquest products to acquire more data about this technology. Bayer CropScience has already had solid success with use of a biologic product - Votivo for nematode control - that's paired with Poncho as a seed treatment. "We are ramping up research and development of biologicals," Condon says.
Seeds and traits ahead
Another area where Bayer CropScience is focusing its resources is in the seeds and traits business, but don't ask them about getting into the corn market. Condon and others with the company were clear that the future for Bayer CropScience for now will be soybeans, canola, wheat, rice and cotton. And for soybeans, the focus is on Southern varieties and Latin America.
The newest seed and trait area for Bayer CropScience is the focus on wheat. The company is dedicating resources to the crop and in the next decade will be working on ways to push up yield on a crop that Condon says has been left behind. This is not the only company to step up to the wheat yield challenge in the United States as more find opportunity in the business.
How that new wheat business might look remains to be seen. Condon points to hybridization to increase yield, perhaps the use of genetic modification for greater productivity. Of course, just the move to bring marker-assisted breeding to wheat in a more intense way will help identify key yield-enhancing traits.
Matthias Kramer, who is on the executive committee at Bayer CropScience and focused on strategic planning, says the "yield will be the driver" for this business. Wheat has traditionally lagged in yield enhancement but the major seed companies ramping up their businesses do aim to change that.
How Bayer CropScience will achieve that yield increase remains to be seen. "This could change from one day to the next," Kramer says. "It may be hybridization, but that may depend on the enthusiasm for the technology."
The effort is focused on hard red winter wheat, and there are a number of technologies being brought to bear on the topic of boosting wheat yield.
For soybeans, the effort focuses on Latin America where Bayer CropScience has acquired some seed companies. Combine that with the Hornbeck acquisition two years ago, and the company is building a portfolio of germplasm that's primed for use in key areas of the Southern U.S. and Latin America.
In each of its seed and trait efforts Bayer CropScience has built for the future. Its rise in cotton country shows dedication to growing business sectors. Cotton - which started with FibreMax but grew to include Stoneville - offers growth potential. Kramer believes more acres will go to cotton in the Eastern part of the growing region as prices stabilize. He even told U.S. ag journalists that company market share in some parts of the region are already on the rise due to some success with new varieties.
Sustaining growth in a crop science company will take focus for the next decade as companies scramble to achieve the rising production goals set down by global demand. Bayer CropScience is on track to boost sales over $13 billion by 2015. Annual sales for 2013 will near $11.8 billion.