Success With Seed Care

There are plenty of ag retailers that have determined that seed treatment makes sense for their grower-customer (and cents for their businesses in the process). Here we present some ag retail seed treatment success stories.

Ceres Solutions: Building Efficiencies

Seed treatment services is standard fare at Ceres Solutions LLC, Crawfordsville, IN. With about 85% of soybeans going out the door, getting untreated seed is like buying a car without a radio. “It’s now our standard offering, we’re going to treat the beans unless you tell us not to,” says Randy Fry, agronomy manager, to emphasize the point. “Of course, you always have a choice, but it is an offering we firmly believe in. We recommend to them what they need on that acre, and it has been very successful.”

Ceres offers a “fully loaded” program, featuring fungicides, insecticides, inoculant and growth promoters from Winfield Solutions, Syngenta and Monsanto. Products are field tested on the company’s own plots, and Ceres also works with Winfield Solutions and gains insights on product performance from Winfield’s Answer Plot test data.

To meet the increasing demand for seed treatment, Ceres has focused on efficiency as well as stewardship. “We built four seed hubs where we can custom blend about any seed treatment a grower would want, in quantities ranging from the bag to the semi load,” says Fry. The hub concept replaced multiple, and comparatively inefficient equipment with updated, versatile units that provide greater accuracy of application rate and higher volume. And because there are fewer locations that stock the seed treatment products, stewardship is improved.

Corn seed treatments are a future opportunity. “We haven’t done much on that at all, but growers are asking about it,” says Fry. “We are really in the early stages on that, but plant growth regulators, biologicals, inoculants, micronutrients are things we are looking exploring.”

As crop prices continue to stay high and agriculture maintains its positive outlook, growers will continue to seek out products and practices that provide that extra measure or yield or risk protection, and seed treatments will be a beneficial and profitable part of the plan. “We’re always looking at new things, trying to find the next big thing,” says Fry.

Heartland Cooperative: Building Incremental Benefit

Heartland Cooperative, based in West Des Moines, IA, has extensive experience in using seed treatments, including the five years that Craig Orr has worked there as director of agronomy marketing. He estimates that 75% of the cooperative’s soybeans go out with a seed treatment, which includes a 5% year-over-year improvement on the business overall.

Corn treatment is still in the offing, although Orr says that about 3% of its corn seed sold received a zinc seed treatment.

“It’s a very profitable venue for the cooperative, and very profitable for the customer,” says Orr. “As the cost of seed has gone up, protecting seed against disease and insect pressure gives you higher out of ground population, a better stand and the opportunity for higher yield.” Products are also continuing to improve, he adds, providing better efficacy and higher yield potential.

Monte Van Wyk, seed sales manager for Heartland, says that while growers have in general come to expect their seed to be treated, its benefits are often taken for granted. “It’s more of a hidden advantage, a hidden savior,” says Van Wyk. “They aren’t looking to prove an incremental benefit of the seed treatment alone — if you surveyed growers about their practices, you won’t hear them say, ‘yeah, it’s the seed treatment that saved me.’” But they trust that if a problem arises in the field that the treatment is designed to address, it will do what it’s supposed to do, he adds.

Products used are region-dependent, and include Accel­eron, CruiserMaxx and INOVATE. “We haven’t seen a lot of performance differences with different products, they have all been good,” says Van Wyk.

In addition to advancements in products, application methods have improved significantly. “The retail sector pioneered ways to apply the products, originally applying by hand and later by spraying as it came off the augers, to what we have today,” says Van Wyk. “We’re continuously upgrading our systems and improving them each year.”

Heartland runs systems manufactured by KSI Convey­or and Agrilead. The systems feature continuous flow, which automates the process and makes it simpler to monitor inventories and create precise prescriptions. “It’s a weight-based system and it works very well,” says Orr. “It helps us control our inventory costs, it allows us to create a prescription and gives us a printout of everything we are doing so we can be confident that everything is billed. We don’t have to write something down, it is tracked automatically.”

Growers also get a printout of exactly what was done — with the number of bags and units treated, and what they were treated with.

In the future, both Orr and Van Wyk see more product options coming online, including biologicals, as the search for the next yield boosting technology intensifies. “Commodity price increases mean that growers will continue to be interested in yield-increasing technologies, and are apt to try new things,” says Van Wyk. “Biologicals and other types of treatments will provide more tools in the toolbox that help growers enhance yield potential in the crops they grow.”

Winfield Solutions: A Promising Future

For Shoreview, MN-based Winfield Solutions LLC, the past few years have been mighty good to its seed treatment division.

“In the past three years, people have been really excited about seed treatment and there have been a lot of companies getting into the market that hadn’t been there before,” says Gregg Finlay, director of seed treatments, grain protectants and inoculants.

As the majority of its grower-customers are in the winter wheat game, the company has observed the popularity of fungicide treatments increase exponentially. “There have been constant advances and improvements in fungicides,” says Finlay. “BASF and Bayer have come out with some new ones in the past few years and Syngenta just came out with one this past year. Up until then it had been about 20 years of the same old metalaxyl products.

“But, as we all know,” he continues. “Mother Nature tends to take care of her own, and pretty soon you’re seeing more and more resistance to various fungicides, so you have got to change them up.”

The growing adoption of insecticide treatments has also been good to Winfield, says Finlay. “Historically speaking, there’s a lot more insecticides being used now, in both the wheat and soybean market,” he says. “The last couple years, we’ve gone from around 35% insecticide use to about 65% to 70%.”

In general, soybean numbers are also up, from 30% of its total beans being treated three years ago to a 90% application rate this season, according to Finlay. He also estimates 99% of the corn seed Winfield sells is treated.

One of the more interesting trends Finlay notes from his 33 years in the seed business is the changing perception of soybeans. “Soybeans traditionally have always been a kind of step-child in ag,” he explains. “The old joke out in the field was always, ‘Oh, you don’t want to buy any beans, do you?’ after buying all your corn seed. But now, it’s more of a ‘Well, here’s your soybeans,’ and the salesman asks “You want the full meal deal on that?’ — which is fungicide, insecticide and the inoculant — the entire package, and now the growers are saying ‘Yeah.’ No question, that is mostly due to $18 beans.”

The price of the seed itself is another reason behind the rapid adoption of seed treatments, according to Finlay. “Thirty years ago, it was $35 for a bag of corn, and guys would say ‘Gee, that’s a lot of money.’ Now it’s about $300-plus a bag, depending on the traits you have, so seed treatment on that is extremely important and a pretty easy sell.”

As for the next big growth area in seed treatments, from the retailer perspective, Finlay sees increased adoption of automated treating systems like Bayer’s On Demand and Agrilead’s NOVO systems.

“As more biologicals and add-ons enter the market, these automated systems are basically the future of seed treatment,” he says. “Especially as more and more retailers are putting on multiple products for a localized prescription, with these systems you just plug those things in and away they go.”

Going forward, properly stewarding this growing segment of ag retail is going to be crucial, especially in terms of keeping increased government regulation to a minimum.

“Right now, the biggest thing in the industry is being environmentally responsible,” says Finlay.

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In Stanton, MN
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsNY Times: Bayer-Monsanto a Bad Deal for Farmers
September 15, 2016
Via NY Times: Don Halcomb, a 63-year-old farmer in Adairville, KY, is expecting his profit to vanish this year, largely Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrisure Trait Stack Approved For Above-Ground Corn Insect Control
September 12, 2016
Agrisure 3120 E-Z Refuge, a new trait stack from Syngenta, has received registration approval from the EPA. Agrisure 3120 E-Z Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsBayer Ups The Ante On Monsanto Offer
September 6, 2016
Bayer AG says talks with Monsanto Co. have advanced, and it is now willing to offer more than $65 billion, Read More
Trending Articles
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Latest News
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More
ManagementMerger Mania
September 16, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss this week’s mega-ag mergers of Bayer and Monsanto and Potash and Agrium. Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Ends Up Being A Bargain For Bayer
September 16, 2016
History will say Bayer got a bargain in its $66 billion purchase of Monsanto, writes David Nicklaus, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100California Ag Retailer Steps Up To Feed Families Affect…
September 16, 2016
GAR Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) in Reedley, CA, is challenging the Central Valley to help raise enough money and provide 525,000 meals Read More
Crop InputsBayer, Monsanto CEOs Discuss Merger
September 15, 2016
Werner Baumann, Bayer CEO, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto CEO, discuss why they decided to merge their companies. Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsNY Times: Bayer-Monsanto a Bad Deal for Farmers
September 15, 2016
Via NY Times: Don Halcomb, a 63-year-old farmer in Adairville, KY, is expecting his profit to vanish this year, largely Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Merger Creates New Global Ag Giant
September 14, 2016
During the whole of 2016, many of the companies that do business in the agricultural industry have concluded the best Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More