Developing a sweet corn variety from scratch could take up to a decade.

Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc., has found a faster way to bring a new product to market. The Oxnard, Calif.-based company has taken genetic traits already proven in field corn and transferred them to sweet corn.

The result is a new variety that promises to improve on the company"s line of Performance Series sweet corn.

Global product manager John Headrick said that new variety, dubbed SV9010SA, had high grower demand based on a few years of testing when it was made available in the fall.

Headrick said the new bicolor variety has built-in defenses against above- and below-ground insects, and it has tolerance to Roundup WeatherMAX and Roundup PowerMAX herbicides.

The corn"s plant protection and weed control traits combine to give SV9010SA excellent yield potential because growers harvest more full, quality ears. Headrick said taste and nutritional value are similar to conventional sweet corn.


Performance Series seed

is more expensive than conventional products, but Headrick said growers will make up the difference in fuel and spray savings.

Headrick said that number will vary by region and insect pressure, but he said growing regions should achieve a reduction in spray up to 85%.

Headrick said the variety"s biggest advantage over the company"s Obsession II sweet corn is improved resistance to rust.

The plant"s tolerance to Roundup means that growers have improved flexibility and can spray as they continue to plant over weeks and months, spreading out their harvest.

Headrick said SV9010SA could have a huge difference in areas where growers have struggled to get control of pests and disease.

"Some parts of the country have stopped growing sweet corn over the years," he said, "because you have to spray so often and even then you don"t have good control."

Growers in the Rio Grande Valley, for example, had to stop growing sweet corn. The Performace Series could allow them to put sweet corn back in their rotations."

Putting sweet corn back in some growing areas" plans also could boost local produce deals by allowing sweet corn to be grown closer to the markets where it"s consumed, Headrick said.