DuPont Co., the second-largest seed company, has begun developing hybrid wheat varieties to accelerate yield gains in the world’s most planted crop.
Hybrid wheat technology has been added at the first phase of a five-step research and development pipeline at DuPont’s Pioneer seed unit, Jim Borel, executive vice president of the Wilmington, Delaware-based company, said today in a webcast from a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. conference.
Creation of hybrid wheat, which would be formed by cross-breeding two varieties, is a new effort for DuPont, which has previously announced plans to try to boost yields through genetic modification of the crop. Dow Chemical Co. and Monsanto Co. are also attempting genetic modifications. Yields in wheat, which is self-pollinating, have trailed hybrid corn, which is the progeny of two parents.
“Wheat is planted on more acres globally than any other crop but productivity improvements have lagged the other major crops,” Borel said in the presentation.
Agriculture accounted for 30 percent of 2012 sales for DuPont, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Monsanto is the largest seed company.