WESTFIELD, Ind. — At its annual Specialty Products Conference, AgriGold revealed significant new offerings in seed products that give farmers opportunities to generate greater net income through premium programs.
A brand of AgReliant Genetics, AgriGold dedicates significant resources to developing product lines that meet market demand for premium products. That includes conventional corn and soybeans, yellow and white hard endosperm corn (HEC), and waxy corn, according to Chuck Hill, AgReliant Genetics’ specialty products manager.
“Our research team actively evaluates hybrid characteristics that are important to buyers in niche markets,” Hill says. “We look first at high yield and agronomics and then find products with the test weights and other specific grain qualities that meet specialty buyers’ needs.”
Non-GMO corn and soybean offerings
By launching new hybrids into conventional markets first, then adding traits, the company brings new genetic choices into the non-GMO marketplace more quickly, Hill says. AgriGold offered 26 conventional corn hybrids for 2022 planting. Its robust future product lineup includes:
- Twenty-nine conventional corn hybrids available for 2023 planting, ranging from 85- to 117-day relative maturity (RM).
- Eight new conventional soybean varieties will be offered in 2023, including one clear hilum variety for tofu production. This will be the first year that AgriGold will provide a non-GMO soybean offering to farmers.
- A total of 66 elite hybrids are being tested for potential advancement into the conventional corn market.
Hybrids tailored for food markets
AgriGold offers both yellow and white HEC hybrids, also referred to as “hard endo” or food-grade corn. These hybrids deliver grain qualities needed for processing corn flakes, tortillas, snacks, grits and other corn-based foods.
AgriGold’s HEC pipeline includes the following:
- Thirty yellow HEC hybrids expected for planting in 2023, with 85- to 120-day RM. Additional yellow HEC hybrids are currently in pre-commercial research trials and are expected to be available for planting in 2024.
- New A643-17W, a white HEC corn, was introduced in limited quantities during 2022. Planted in seven states in 2022, this 113-day hybrid delivers high yield and great agronomics. The company is currently ramping up production of A643-17W. A full-scale launch is planned for 2023.
- White HEC field trials expanded in 2022, with several hybrids in the first and second years of testing for potential future introductions.
Waxy corn for wet milling
AgriGold waxy corn hybrids meet the specific needs of cornstarch manufacturing. Normal dent corn contains 75% amylopectin and 25% amylose, while waxy varieties contain at least 97% amylopectin, making them more suitable for wet milling into corn starch.
AgriGold’s waxy corn pipeline includes the following, in addition to the seven waxy hybrids available in 2022:
- A643-01WX, a new 113-day product for planting in 2023.
- Twenty-two experimental hybrids being tested this year at 15 research sites. These range in RM from 107 to 114 days.
Outlook bright for specialty grain markets
U.S. farmers have great opportunities in these specialty markets, says David Ksiazkiewicz, identity preserved grain origination manager for Consolidated Grain & Barge (CGB), headquartered in Mandeville, Louisiana. CGB deals in both domestic and export markets, handling conventional, HEC, waxy and organic grains.
“In today’s global environment, there are a lot of unstable situations. The one thing U.S. ag offers today is reliable, consistent supply. That is a huge advantage over many other countries that export grain,” Ksiazkiewicz says.
Overall demand for specialty grains remains strong, but buyers in these markets are always exacting in their standards to meet consumer demands.
“Export markets must meet each customer’s need. It’s no longer one hybrid fits all. As consumer needs evolve, our agriculture industry must work together to respond to these changes. Grain quality is the key to success as we supply tailor-made shipments,” Ksiazkiewicz says.
Screening for specialty markets
Farmers looking for premium programs don’t need to give up yield and agronomics, Hill says. To help farmers meet specialty buyer demands, AgReliant Genetics’ research program starts with the best performing corn hybrids and screens them for qualities that meet specialty buyer needs.
Test weight and cap score are two of those measurements.
“Cap score is a quick, visual way for us to categorize corn hybrids for use in food products,” he explains. “The cap is the crown or dent at the top of the kernel.” Scores range from 1, the softest cap, to 9, which is a no dent and the hardest kernel.
Patience is also needed, Hill says. Buyers often request samples of a specific hybrid before putting it into a premium program – sometimes as much as a 750-bushel container load.
“Customers want to test the grain themselves to ensure it qualifies for their programs,” Hill says. “Some food companies take it all the way to a cook test – using the grain to produce an end-user product. All in all, the process of approving a hybrid for a premium program could take two to three years.
“Although specialty grains aren’t a big market, it is an important one. AgReliant Genetics is dedicated to serving those growers who are willing to manage their crops differently and preserve their identity to be paid a premium price.”