A Grower’s Perspective

Gaining a grower’s trust when it comes to recommending seed is a daunting task, but there’s no shortcut on the road to building the trust necessary to make headway with a customer. Champaign, IL, grower John Reifsteck shared some of his thoughts on his approach to the seed purchasing process, and how he views his relationships with trusted seed advisors.

How do you make determinations on which hybrids and varieties to plant?

There are really three areas of focus for me. The first is my own experience with the seeds I grew the last couple of years. I have a pretty good system for testing on my farm that uses precision ag farming tools to know how each performed in the field. We compare the results with those of other hybrids and varieties in the same field and get a real good feel for performance.

We will run a split planter, do side-by-sides in a field, run yield maps and compare colored strips to determine top performers. We plant about half of our corn acres in two hybrids, and try to plant some of each of these in every field. It’s a good check to see how they are doing.

I go back and look at my own records and go through a culling process of what did not do well in the past. I then look at the newer hybrids and varieties and identify which had done well, and consider how to fit them into next year’s planting scheme.

Second, I block out some time, usually a full day, to go out to the major yield trials, especially what the land grants have put together. Then I just start going through results. Nationally-branded seeds are generally planted in multiple states and in multiple locations, and often when a particular variety or hybrid performs well across all locations and therefore in a wide range of soil and weather conditions, it will perform well on my farm.

In any given year I will choose two or three that I have never grown before and try them.

Finally, I check in with people in the industry. You do have to rely on the seed company to provide important information on what they think I need to use on my farm — they do want you to be a customer and to be happy with their products.

That said, you do have to be cautious. Companies will push ahead with varieties to get more acres out, so it may be tempting to plant more to a promoted variety than is prudent. I won’t plant a huge percent to a new hybrid or variety because I need to have some experience with the variety on my farm. This fall, I can tell you that we were disappointed with some of the new varieties. The life expectancy of hybrids and varieties is not what it was, and maybe not all the testing that has been done in the past is done today. You just have to accept that seed companies will push to get some varieties and hybrids out there, and be cautious.

Honestly, there are some selections that are consistent performers that I’ve been growing for three or four years.

Is managing around the constant variety/hybrid turnover difficult?

I certainly tell the seed reps when a seed is performing well, but you can see the handwriting on the wall if they decide to de-emphasize a variety or hybrid. Things get replaced, you know it will happen. The risk on their side is that I may choose something else from another company.

Some of the varieties and hybrids I use are three or four years old and still perform well, yet are very reasonably priced. So when technology changes and prices go up substantially on seed, it really has to perform if the seed company is charging super-premium prices. It has to have me saying, “Wow, what is that and where can I get it?”

What time of year do you get serious about making a seed purchase?

One positive that has emerged recently is that we’re not being asked to lock down purchases in late summer. For a while, that was a real push for that, and I think we have abandoned that process and we’re being more rational about waiting and evaluating. I understand that the seed salesperson wants to lock down the sale, but making a decision when we are not into harvest and have no idea what’s going on out there is too much to ask. The only reason to buy seed really early is if we think it will not be available, or if we receive preferential pricing. Otherwise, why make a decision before you have all information you can get?

Who do you trust to help you?

Dan Schaeffer, one of the seed reps I use, is great guy. He is out there with all the hybrids and varieties all the time in my plots and in his own plots. When Dan says to me, “You need to have some of this seed,” then I trust his opinion.

I can never deal with someone I do not trust. My advisors know what I am doing and how I am doing. If they say I need to be doing this or I should be worried about that, I believe it. But this is earned trust over the years … you can’t just walk in the door and tell me something.

So how can someone get into your inner circle?

It is a slow process. You can’t just throw somebody out there. One way you can do it more rapidly is by association — who you are associated with, such as the seed company that you are representing.

In general, you have to start off by getting to know the farmer and being around the farmer. And start small — suggest a hybrid or variety that would help solve a specific problem I am having. Here is some we got that will work, and if you have a relationship with a reputable seed company you will most likely get in with that farm. Sell some units, start small and build it — and the way you build it is by being right.

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Corn Seed
Seed/BiotechSeed Innovations Benefit All of the Seed Industry
August 17, 2017
Innovations from throughout the seed industry help address many of the economic, environmental and health issues we face as a Read More
AcreEdge bag
Seed/BiotechLandus Cooperative’s AcreEdge Seed Brand Gears Up for 2018
August 17, 2017
Growers in more than 26 Iowa and Minnesota counties are seeing field signs with a new brand name at end Read More
Young Corn Plants
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Offers Novel Product to Battle Pythium, Other Pathogens
August 10, 2017
After a season plagued by seedling diseases caused by cool, wet soils at planting, farmers have a new option to Read More
Natives-First-Purple_Prairie_Clover
Seed/BiotechLa Crosse Seed Continues Focus on Soil and Water Conservation
August 9, 2017
La Crosse Seed is doing its part to lead communication to ag retailers across the country on the importance of Read More
Trending Articles
Iowa waterways
Stewardship2,600 Iowa Farmers Commit $8.7 Million to Water Quality Practices
August 9, 2017
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced Tuesday that a record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100Cause of Gar Tootelian Fire Under Investigation
August 7, 2017
Over one hundred firefighters and equipment responded to a four-alarm shop fire at the Gar Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) facility in Read More
Rob Versprille
ManagementCeres Solutions, North Central Co-op Merger to Bring New Opportunities for Indiana, Michigan Farmers
August 1, 2017
More than 40,000 customers and almost 9,000 Indiana and Michigan farmers will begin doing business with the new Ceres Solutions Read More
CPS-Norwood-and-Dupont-reps
Eric SfiligojA Message to Ag Retailers: Do Tell Your Good Stories
July 26, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance ag Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow’s Tim Hassinger Named President, CEO of Lindsay Corp.
July 24, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
Latest News
Corn Seed
Seed/BiotechSeed Innovations Benefit All of the Seed Industry
August 17, 2017
Innovations from throughout the seed industry help address many of the economic, environmental and health issues we face as a Read More
SpreadersGVM to Introduce New Prowler at MAGIE
August 17, 2017
The newest Prowler in GVM’s line-up will be introduced next week at the Midwest Ag Industries Expo (MAGIE), August 23 Read More
AcreEdge bag
Seed/BiotechLandus Cooperative’s AcreEdge Seed Brand Gears Up for 2…
August 17, 2017
Growers in more than 26 Iowa and Minnesota counties are seeing field signs with a new brand name at end Read More
Engenia soybeans
ManagementCorn and Soybean Yield Forecasts Larger than Expected
August 17, 2017
The USDA’s August Crop Production report contained larger-than-expected forecasts for the 2017 U.S. corn and soybean crops. At 169.5 bushels Read More
ManagementU.S. Ag Secretary Introduces SCORE
August 17, 2017
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a new agreement to support new and beginning farmers. On August 5, Perdue joined Read More
CHS-FFA-Minnesota
CropLife 100CHS and FFA: A Homerun Partnership
August 17, 2017
CHS hosted the Minnesota FFA for its annual FFA night at CHS Field. FFA students, educators and CHS leadership enjoyed Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100Gar Tootelian Foundation Donates Half Million Dollars t…
August 16, 2017
Students at Immanuel Elementary are looking forward to the first day of school for two reasons this year. One, they Read More
Water Drainage
StewardshipNew System Could Remove Two Water Pollutants from Ag Fi…
August 14, 2017
Algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico use up the majority of the oxygen in the water, leading to massive Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Top 10 Crop Protection Companies, Post-Mega Mergers
August 14, 2017
Everyone loves a good Top 10 list. In fact, some prominent celebrities such as David Letterman spent much of their Read More
ManagementThe DuPont-Granular Deal, Dicamba Update, and Upcoming …
August 11, 2017
Matthew Grassi joins Paul Schrimpf for the second week in a row to talk about DuPont’s acquisition of Granular, as Read More
Soybeans weeds
HerbicidesOngoing Evaluation Key to Controlling Weeds, Improving …
August 10, 2017
As the sun bears down on record U.S. soybean acres this August, farmers keep their eyes on their fields to Read More
Young Corn Plants
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Offers Novel Product to Battle Pythium, O…
August 10, 2017
After a season plagued by seedling diseases caused by cool, wet soils at planting, farmers have a new option to Read More
Corn Field
FertilizerProtect Applied Manure Straight From the Manure Pit to …
August 10, 2017
Farmers who use liquid manure to fertilize corn crops can now mix Instinct nitrogen stabilizer in their pit for easy Read More
Iowa waterways
Stewardship2,600 Iowa Farmers Commit $8.7 Million to Water Quality…
August 9, 2017
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced Tuesday that a record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient Read More
Natives-First-Purple_Prairie_Clover
Seed/BiotechLa Crosse Seed Continues Focus on Soil and Water Conser…
August 9, 2017
La Crosse Seed is doing its part to lead communication to ag retailers across the country on the importance of Read More
HerbicidesAg Secretary Perdue Comments on Dicamba Issue
August 9, 2017
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue indicated to reporters this week that he would like to see the industry work out a Read More
Treated-Seed-in-planter
Seed/BiotechSeed Treatment Q&A: Insight from Iowa State’s…
August 8, 2017
Technology has changed drastically since the 1990s. Televisions are thinner, phones are smaller and tractors can steer themselves. Technology has Read More
soybeans
Seed/BiotechWhen and Why to Double Inoculate Your Soybeans
August 8, 2017
Double inoculation is the act of using a double application of a rhizobial inoculant. This quickly establishes high populations of Read More