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Foundation partner to commercialize sorghum herbicide-tolerant traits

DuPont and Kansas State University Research Foundation have signed an agreement giving DuPont exclusive commercialization rights to two new herbicide-tolerant traits in sorghum.

The new traits, developed by Kansas State University researchers, include an ALS-herbicide-tolerant trait and an ACCase-herbicide-tolerant trait. Both traits will provide growers with new, more flexible post-emergence herbicide options for grass control in sorghum with no restrictions on export marketing.

Growers will benefit from new herbicide solutions developed with the unique blends technology from DuPont Crop Protection for use on sorghum with the new ALS-tolerant trait. Seed companies will have the opportunity to sub-license both traits from DuPont.

“Our partnership with Kansas State will allow us to deliver solutions for grass and broadleaf weed control in sorghum that have never before been available,” said James C. Collins, vice president and general manager, DuPont Crop Protection. “We are pleased to work with Kansas State researchers as we continue to deliver products that increase grower productivity.”

“One of the greatest challenges sorghum growers have faced over the years is control of weeds in the crop,” said Forrest Chumley, K-State Research and Extension associate director for research. “To solve the problem, we needed to work with a company, such as DuPont, that has optimal herbicide chemistry, access to good crop genetics, and the willingness to make the innovation available broadly. This is a huge step for sorghum production.”

Growers currently rely on pre-emergence grass herbicides that require rainfall for activation. These treatments can be inconsistent, especially in the High Plains where annual rainfall frequently is limited. The new ALS-tolerant and ACCase-tolerant traits will provide sorghum growers with post-emergence grass and broadleaf weed control options needed for more versatile application timing. The new traits, developed using conventional methods, will also allow growers greater rotational flexibility to sorghum from other crops.

The traits were developed by K-State agronomy researchers including Kassim Al-Khatib and his former colleague Mitch Tuinstra (currently at Purdue University).

K-State's Chumley said the effort was made possible by strong support from the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and the National Grain Sorghum Producers.

“Through their checkoff dollars, sorghum farmers have provided steady support for research and educational programs aimed at improving this important crop. It's nice to see this payoff for sorghum farmers,” he said.

Kansas has long been the leading state in grain sorghum production, accounting for nearly half of the U.S. crop. The United States is the world's largest producer of grain sorghum at about 300 million bushels per year. In 2006, grain sorghum sales pumped $487 million into the Kansas economy, according to the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association. The latest projections by the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service indicate that Kansas growers produced about 212 million bushels of grain sorghum in 2007.

The mission of the Kansas State University Research Foundation is to promote, encourage and aid scientific investigation, research and technology transfer at Kansas State University to return the greatest advantage to the creators, K-State and the general public.

DuPont is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere.

Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food, building and construction, communications, and transportation.

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