Seed Traits And Logistics: Notes From The Commodity Classic

My latest road trip took me to Dallas for the 2009 Commodity Classic. This is really a tradeshow for growers, so when we go to this event we’re a bit like fish out of water. But what it does reveal for us is how manufacturers are positioning their grower marketing strategies for year ahead.

Overall, the biggest thing I saw at the show was an emphasis on creating more simplicity with seed traits. Monsanto’s initiative, Genuity (featured in another news item here), is really the company’s way of organizing and identifying varieties and hybrids by their capabilities. With SmartStax nearing registration and drought tolerance coming on line over the next few years, the number of choices is becoming very difficult to manage and understand. Communicating the benefits and differences to growers (without telegraphing choices too much — we all know growers hate being told what to do) will be increasingly important. And, people who advise growers on seed decisions will be critical as well.

The other “take home” is that growers all over the commodity world are sitting on their decisions until the last possible minute. Fertilizer and crop protection products continue to sit in warehouses, waiting for growers to lock in. I mentioned this to Eric Davis, publisher of sister magazine Farm Chemicals International, and he was amazed. “I’m hearing that same scenario all over the world — growers are in wait-and-see mode. It’s remarkable that agriculture is in accord on this one.”

The “dam” of inactivity is higher, and the water behind it deeper than I had ever imagined (and still rising). The consequence could be that logistical limitations will mean growers won’t get what they want, when they need it. Buckle up and take your vitamins, folks … this spring is shaping up to be a monster.

Tell us what’s going on in your neck of the woods. Are you in an area where planting is just about to begin so growers have already ordered their inputs? Or are you nervously waiting, hoping your dealership has the wherewithall to manage the logistics when your growers finally commit? Click on the comment box below and tell us your story: where you’re located, what your situation is, and how you’re dealing with it.

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