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

Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked Microbial Seed Treatments Result In Increased Yields
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
Seed/BiotechNufarm Introduces New Seed Treatment Solutions
February 3, 2017
Nufarm Americas, Inc. has announced the addition of new, innovative and proven seed treatment solutions to its product portfolio. Promoting Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrisure Viptera Trait Demonstrates Effective Control Of Above-Ground Insects
February 1, 2017
Across the Corn Belt this past season, hybrids containing the Agrisure Viptera trait demonstrated effective control of above-ground insects in Read More
Syngenta plant
Seed/BiotechSyngenta AI Challenge To Address World Hunger With Machine Learning
January 31, 2017
Syngenta and the AI for Good Foundation have partnered to launch the Syngenta AI Challenge, a new international competition focused Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Latest News
Greenleaf Technologies TADF03-D Dual Fan Nozzle
NozzlesSix Greenleaf Nozzles Approved For XtendiMax With Vapor…
February 22, 2017
Greenleaf Technologies has announced that six of its TurboDrop D Series nozzles have been approved for use with Monsanto’s XtendiMax Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Hires Manitoba And Eastern Canada Account Man…
February 22, 2017
Tiger-Sul, a global leader in sulphur fertilizers and crop performance products, has announced that sales veteran Trevor Loewen has joined Read More
NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More
ManagementUpdates on Upcoming Trips, Dow-DuPont, and the Des Moin…
February 9, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review a few future travels, along with the latest on big company mergers and Read More
Championship Tractor Pull
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Highlighted By Championshi…
February 9, 2017
The scream of monster engines, the stench of burning rubber and the ground-pounding vibrations of the country’s largest, loudest and Read More