Agronomy •  2023-02-08

How new Pioneer hybrids and varieties come to market

Something went wrong. Please try again later...

Innovation only matters if we make advancements that make a difference on your farm. That’s why our new hybrids and varieties are built for the unique challenges of Canadian growers.

Before a bag of Pioneer® brand seed ends up on your farm, there is a long development process, with many stages, to ensure the hybrid or variety performs as promised.  

Step 1: Anticipating customer needs

Product development is a multi-year process that always starts with our customers. Pioneer reps are out in the field, asking growers about the challenges they’re facing and what products and solutions they need to improve their operation. Using these insights, our expert agronomists and business leaders identify gaps in existing product lines and greenlight our research team to fill those needs with new hybrids and varieties.  

Step 2: Developing new hybrids and varieties

Researchers begin by crossing two known, high-performing varieties together. This pollination process yields new seeds or “offspring” that, much like children, are all genetically different from one another. It starts with very few seeds and ramps up quickly to include thousands upon thousands of different paired crosses. And the goal as a plant breeder is to find that ‘one’ which is superior to all others.

We start with a big funnel with a lot of potential hybrids/varieties because 99.9 per cent of them will not have the right combination of genetics required to be the superior product that everybody has come to expect from Pioneer.

Luckily, however, some significant advances in technology have helped us select superior products much quicker and thereby dramatically improve the rate at which we can bring new products to the market. With our breeding programs, we use our understanding of DNA and genetics to predict how all the offspring will perform in seven to eight years. 

Step 3: Always improving

Like farmers themselves, our plant breeders are never content and always striving for more. With the new hybrids and varieties, the goal isn’t only to elevate yield and profitability. It’s about eliminating risk factors and making sure performance is stable from environment to environment, farm to farm, year to year, to ensure growers have a positive experience no matter where they plant our product.

Furthermore, nothing in farming stays stagnant. Goals and targets change. Pests change. Herbicide resistance changes. So, there’s always something new to develop to help farmers become more successful. 

Step 4: Canadian research facilities

Pioneer is a premium seed brand of Corteva Agriscience, which has more than 10 local advanced technology centers with over 95 years of research expertise, and 700+ employees across Canada.

As new hybrids and varieties get closer to commercialization, they undergo IMPACT testing in state-of-the-art Canadian research facilities. IMPACT stands for Intensively Managed Product Advancement Characterization and Training, and it helps ensure a consistent flow of dependable, market-ready products to Canadian farmers, faster than ever before.

For instance, Corteva’s Woodstock R&D Centre in Southwestern Ontario has a wind machine named ‘BOREAS’. This proprietary Corteva technology uses two giant fans to simulate a windstorm when testing corn, providing researchers with important phenotyping information to assess late season stock strength.

Step 5: Local testing

While our research team evaluates thousands upon thousands of hybrids/varieties at the top of the funnel, our local agronomists across Canada test a relatively small number of products each year, deep diving on their strengths and any potential weaknesses. They’re kicking tires, so to speak, pressure testing our products in the areas where they will be planted. Evaluating yield, disease tolerance, and other crucial agronomic factors to ensure the hybrid or variety has what it takes to be successful in the market.

Having this level of local testing and product development is invaluable to Canadian growers as you can trust the high performing Pioneer seed to maximize yield potential on your farm.