S&W Seed Company in final breeding trials of world's first alfalfa variety bred for tropical climates
Jun. 28, 2013
The Company's tropical alfalfa breeding program was pioneered by the Company's newly acquired Australian subsidiary, Seed Genetics International ("SGI"), commencing in 2008, and is continuing under the auspices of the combined S&W and SGI plant breeding team. The goal of this program is to give farmers in equatorial and tropical regions the ability to enjoy the advantages alfalfa offers for dairy and livestock production without having to rely on purchasing alfalfa hay imported from more temperate non-tropical regions. The Company believes its new RD 132 variety will ultimately be able to gain wide acceptance in dairy production and rangeland grazing in areas where local forage options are currently limited.
Although alfalfa has for centuries been a staple of forage production in both warm and cold geographical areas that are considered non-tropical, tropical areas have historically not had local production of alfalfa due to the traits and limitations of the currently available varieties. Breeding and development of a variety suitable for commercial alfalfa production in such subtropical and tropical areas as Central America, the Northern zones of South America, equatorial Africa, Northern Australia and South East Asia has been based at a company site located in Kununurra, in the far north tropical area of Australia. RD 132 is the most advanced of four breeding lines identified by the company's breeders to date and is currently being screened by a testing service to obtain third party confirmation of disease resistance characteristics. Assuming the successful completion of testing, the initial development of RD 132 is targeted to end in April 2014, following which time the Company hopes to release the new variety for the initial stages of commercial seed production.
Mark Harvey, Vice Chairman of S&W Seed Company (formerly Director of SGI), stated, "The lack of indigenous alfalfa forage production has been a major hindrance for livestock producers and dairies located in the world's tropical regions. Commercial operations are often forced to rely on imported feed products to meet the needs of their herds for high quality forage, especially intensive users like dairies. We believe there is a real need for local production of high quality animal fodder, such as our tropically adapted alfalfa, to supplement the livestock feed that is currently available locally in these areas. We think that a tropical variety like RD 132 promises to be in high demand from a wide range of agricultural businesses that want to improve their profitability and have the benefit of reliable, local feed supplies."
Mark Grewal, president and chief executive officer of S&W Seed Company, commented, "The tropical areas of the world have a rapidly expanding animal and human population. Areas such as Brazil and the central states of Africa and north of Australia already have large herds and would benefit greatly from a tropical alfalfa to lift productivity. In fact, one of the largest dairies in the world has recently been built in Vietnam and they do not have alfalfa acreage in the country to feed the herd. There has been high interest because there are a few leguminous forage and fodder varieties that grow in the tropics, and none that have the production capacity of alfalfa."
Mr. Grewal concluded, "One of our key growth strategies is to expand our product offerings to service all climate types and topographies throughout the world. We see this as a great opportunity for S&W to expand our markets."
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