The Many Paths Ahead For Seed

This fall growers and retailers have faced a unique combination of natural and man-made challenges that are making seed and planting decisions for the coming year more complex. Perhaps the biggest question of the season: Will there be enough seed for 2013 plantings, especially in light of the drought? Retailers we talked with have been keeping in close touch with suppliers to get the latest word. Fortunately, seed production acreage is under irrigation, so the crop was protected from some of the worse effects of the drought. But dealers are hearing quantities will be tight to “very tight,” at least on the corn side. “The challenge will be how many of the priority hybrids or varieties we can actually deliver,” says Rob Mitchell, director of national seed sales and marketing, J.R. Simplot, Boise, ID.

Indeed, Jeff Eggleston, general manager of Hintzsche Fertilizer, Maple Park, IL, says that because of supply problems the past few years, a majority of his customers’ orders have been altered at least once before seed ever gets delivered. Trying to place seed for a grower, then not have availability means going back to make substitutions, he says. It’s a time-consuming practice he dislikes intensely.

In addition to supply issues, some retailers were wondering about the quality of the seed, pointing to the impact of the summer’s excessive heat during pollination. “We’re anticipating a smaller seed size and hopefully we’re not going to see reduced germs of any kind,” says Mitchell.

And a startling trend emerged across the board as CropLife® talked with dealers: Growers are placing orders up to two months earlier than usual in order to get coveted varieties and quantities. In fact, customers might be over-ordering slightly this year as well, trying to get extra of what they really want because they know they’ll probably get cut, says Eggleston.

Product Watch

What products did growers go for in 2012 and how did crops do? Lane Mielke, sales manager at North Central Famers Elevator, Ipswich, SD, says customers particularly liked VT Double PRO seed — especially the Refuge-in-Bag product — and were willing to pay a premium for the convenience.

Mielke was surprised at how well the newer varieties performed in general this year. “We raised a heck of a good crop on limited rainfall,” he says. “Producers raised a good yield and are getting a good price for their commodity. Everybody has a smile on their face at this point.”

Kevin Mainord, sales manager for MRM Ag Services, East Prairie, MO, saw a big demand for LibertyLink (LL) products in his area this year due to glyphosate-resistant pigweed issues. The problem began six years ago and has progressively gotten worse across the state. When customers first started using LL soybeans two years ago, they were concerned about a yield drag, compared to Roundup Ready systems. But most are now seeing LL yields that are just as good, Mainord reports.

Many retailers, including Chris Klumpp, seed product line manager at Ag Partners, Albert City, IA, reported customers went for the new RoundUp Ready 2 Yield soybeans and said they got “very good performance.”

Several dealers we talked with are waiting for dicamba-tolerant soybeans as a means to combat glyphosate-tolerant weeds. But the possible volatility and off-target movement of dicamba products and subsequent damage to sensitive crops like cotton makes them cautious.

Michael Hensgens, business manager of G&H Seed Co., Crowley, LA, says dicamba and Roundup Ready 2 soybeans should raise the yield bar and increase weed control in the crop, aiding in stewardship and weed resistance prevention.

One eagerly awaited trait continues to be drought tolerance, and 2012 certainly was a good year to test the newly launched genetics. This season J.R. Simplot, which always faces plenty of water-challenged locations west of the Rockies, trialed and retailed some of the hybrids, created both by conventional breeding and genetic modifications. Mitchell says it’s too early to tell if the seed delivered. “The harvest is going on and data points are still coming in,” he says, though he adds that the company will also be watching other industry and university results as well.

5 Key Forces Driving The Seed Market5 Key Forces Driving The Seed Market
In this episode of Top Trends, CropLife Group Editor Paul Schrimpf discusses how weather, economic and political conditions are all playing a role in which direction the seed market will head in the future.

Planting Intentions

Several retailers reported that planting intentions for 2013 so far are similar to 2012, with many still “bullish” on corn acres. Mitchell projects the Gulf region may see some corn acres replace cotton. “I think it’s going to be another big year on corn, but let’s just hope we get some rainfall this fall and winter, get some recharge going.”

Dealers said they are hearing projections of 96 to 100 million acres of corn for 2013, but those impacted most by the drought in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa question the figure.

“I don’t know how we’re going to hit that,” says Dan Mogged, vice president of Van Horn, Cerro Gordo, IL. He reports dismal performance by some hybrids for the past two years in corn-on-corn fields in the region. Those kinds of results make it very difficult for his sales force to recommend one product over another to customers for 2013. He says growers have been “slammed” in these rotations, investing in pricey inputs only to get disappointing yields — 50 to 80 bushels per acre less than fields where corn followed soybeans. Mogged says he could see at least 5% of this year’s corn acres shift back to soybeans.

All Over The Road

Hintzsche’s Eggleston, also in Illinois, says planting intentions are “all over the board right now,” with some growers leaning toward more soybeans. “I would say if we don’t get some decent snowfall and rain this fall and next spring, growers may lean towards beans. Our subsoil moisture is pretty depleted.”

MRM’s Mainord thinks that if bean prices and fertilizer prices go up, “that will tend to trim the corn acres.”

Dealers are working to make seed sales a good experience for growers. A key is the value of their sales agronomists in building relationships with and conveying seed information to customers. Seed staff face a steep learning curve, especially considering the sheer number of new varieties hitting the market every year. The life cycle of a hybrid has gone down to two or three years, from five years a decade ago.

North Central Farmers Elevator has seen the benefits of ongoing customer communication. As word has spread about the company’s products and service, Mielke has had to add 18 new members to his sales force over just the past five years.

Part of seed management is pricing, including finding the rate that will bring acceptable margins. While customers may complain about seed costs, G&H Seed’s Hensgens emphasizes margins do mean value for the grower. “A farmer is the best judge of value,” he says. “If he trusts his crop advisor, he orders products with their appropriate margins providing the crop advisor service. If a grower uses a consultant, then he pays the consultant and shops price first, then compares the other services offered by the dealer. Custom application services greatly impact those decisions.”

Hensgens would say the value of traits was acceptable to growers until a “value shift” took place a few years ago — when the price of seed went up in exchange for lower herbicide prices caused by generic chemical introductions and patent expirations.

In Missouri, MRM’s Mainord sells to customers who still use public varieties. Many of the elevators in his area pay a 60-cent premium for non-GMO soybeans, which his growers have found perform very well. “In fact, most producers who grow traditional varieties will tell you they perform as well as anything that’s on the market,” he says. A sobering thought considering non-GMO seed costs $18 to $19 per bag, vs. $52 to $65 for traited seed.

A number of dealers commented that while agriculture continues to fare well compared to other industries in the current economy, they and their customers are uneasy. The latest Farm Bill has yet to be finalized, and at presstime dealers contemplated how the looming elections could greatly affect the bill’s outcome. “One year down the road, how will farm programs and crop insurance look?” asks Mogged.

Mainord thinks growers are being a little cautious in their buying decisions, even with high commodity prices. One reason in particular: How will tax structures look after the elections?

“They affect us tremendously,” he says. “Even though we handle a lot of money, sometimes we don’t get to keep a lot of it.”

Topics:

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
RoGator RG1300B AGCO
EquipmentAGCO Opens Nominations for 12th Annual Operator of the …
August 18, 2017
AGCO Corp. has announced the opening of nominations for AGCO Application Equipment’s 12th Annual Operator of the Year. The award Read More
ManagementTravels, Mergers, and CropLife 100 Updates
August 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss recent trips they’ve taken, the latest news on market consolidation, and the 2017 Read More
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