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Monsanto commits $100 million to corn

June 24, 2013, Winnipeg, MB - Monsanto is embarking on a long-range plan focused on breeding corn hybrids with earlier relative maturities (RM) adapted to the geography and climatic conditions in Western Canada.

Dubbed the Canada Corn Expansion Project, Monsanto will invest $100 million over the next 10 years to produce corn hybrids that could be widely grown across a potential geography of 26 million acres in Western Canada. Taking into consideration crop rotations, Monsanto says this could result in an estimated annual western corn market of eight to 10 million acres by 2025, up significantly from the current annual western Canadian corn acreage of around 300,000 to 500,000 acres - the large majority of which is confined to Southern Manitoba.

Monsanto says the opportunity will be realized through a sustained breeding effort dedicated to the 70 to 85 RM corn market and involve extensive field testing; agronomic training for farmers and others within the agriculture industry; marketing and agronomic support; and partnerships with the channel.

"Farmers in Western Canada are some of the most sophisticated in the world but most haven't had the option to grow corn in the shorter-season climate that characterizes Western Canada," says Mike Nailor, corn and soybean lead for Canada, in a news release. "They produce great crops year-after-year in canola, wheat, barley and alfalfa, to name a few. But what if they could do better? That's the question we started to ask ourselves when we looked at the corn opportunity.

"There will definitely be a learning curve but farmers are innovators and strong adopters of technology. I don't doubt for a second, that given the tools, they will drive corn acre expansion across the west if the yield and profitability potential in corn remains strong relative to other cropping options."

Nailor added that Monsanto's focus as it brings corn to western Canadian farmers will be on doing what is right for the farmer agronomically in the long-term and helping them minimize early-adoption risk as they add corn to their rotation.

Monsanto recently expanded its corn breeding efforts at Carman, Man., with a new corn breeding and testing station.

The company says it will work collaboratively with farmers as they start technology development trials, working to minimize the risks for farmers who plant corn in new regions of the country while transferring knowledge and expertise about corn to farmers and the retail channel. Ongoing market analysis and farmer surveys are also planned to confirm the market opportunity and ensure farmers are supported with agronomic and technical advice as they make the business decision to incorporate corn into their rotation.