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Agribusiness News: CPCSD back from brink with Bayer buyout

It has been called Seed Distributors, CPCSD and more formally California Planting Cotton Seed Distributors.

Now the oldest cotton planting seed distributor in the San Joaquin Valley has a brand new name for the first time in 71 years. It could be “Phoenix” since it was resurrected by Bayer CropScience from the ashes of a rapidly shrinking California cotton industry with far too many competitors for the acres.

Officially the seed distributor that began in 1936 is now FiberMax-CPCSD after Bayer CropScience agreed to buy CPCSD for $14 million last year.

CPCSD has emerged from the edge of extinction with a bright future, according to John Palmer, the former CPCSD vice president of sales and now western seed manager.

Palmer said at the new company’s winter grower meetings most of the staff remains intact at the Shafter, Calif.-based company, including seed breeders Steve Oakley and Hal Moser.

Bayer is pumping new financial life into the company, including plans for a $1 million renovation of the company’s processing facilities.

“California cotton growers will benefit from Bayer CropScience’s commitment to maintain a steady flow of new, superior cotton products for the California market,” said Palmer.

“We’re excited about acquiring CPCSD because the company’s seed products and germplasm complement the high quality fiber cotton FiberMax is based on,” said Lee Rivenbark of Lubbock, Texas, director of FiberMax cotton.

National focus

“Now with FiberMax-CPCSD we have more of a national focus vs. the Southwest and east.”

Rivenbark admits the sharp decline in California cotton acres over the past decade poses a “tremendous challenge, but there’s still an opportunity to plant, grow and sell high quality Pima and Acala cotton.”

In a decade, Bayer CropScience has captured 29 percent of the U.S. cotton market, second to Delta and Pine Land Co.’s 52 percent.

The cotton seed business continues to be about high yielding varieties, however, it is also has become about technology. Bayer CropScience is in the fray with its Liberty Link herbicide resistant cottons as well as insect resistance and drought tolerant cottons coming down the row.

Rivenbark said the company is also developing cottons with glyphosate-tolerant technology called Glytol.

He expects stacked Liberty Link/Glytol FiberMax cottons to be on the market in 2010 along with two-gene Bt cotton, all stacked.

“We are talking double stack herbicide tolerance and double Bt gene,” said Rivenbark.

Bayer CropScience also is field testing cotton with drought-tolerant genes in four regions of the U.S. Cotton Belt.

Rivenbark said a Roundup Flex Pima will be launched next year followed by a Liberty-Link Pima. These herbicide-tolerant extra long staple cottons are expected to be readily accepted in California where there are now herbicide-resistant Upland/Acalas, but no biotech Pimas. “We have all kinds of new products in the pipeline.”

Palmer said FiberMax-CPCSD was expecting to win approved Acala status from the San Joaquin Valley Cotton Board this spring for the first Liberty Link Acala, Revolution LL. It will be available on a very limited basis this season, said Palmer. “We have only about 700 bags,” he explained.

CPCSD had licensing agreements to work with Monsanto to develop Roundup-resistant cottons before the Bayer buyout. An offspring of that Monsanto pact is Acala Daytona RF, a high yielding Roundup Ready Flex Acala. It also was expected to be given official Acala status this spring by the cotton board.

“In the absence of weed pressure, Daytona RF is not the highest yielding Acala, but under high weed pressure with the Flex system, it can be exceptional,” said Palmer.

“We have plenty of Daytona RF Acala as well as Cobalt Pima,” said Palmer. The new CPCSD Pima, a full maturity Pima similar to DP 340, was the top yielding Pima in the 2005 University of California Cooperative Extension Pima variety trials.

Palmer said the company’s varieties will be sold in Fiber Max-CPCSD brand 50-pound bags. Next season the company will bag by seed-count.

Cottons sold by the new CPCSD-FiberMax company will be marketed under the certified FiberMax tracking system, which nets two cents to three cents more per pound than non-certified cotton.

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