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.”


Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Soybean field
Crop InputsIncotec Invests In North America
October 25, 2016
Leading seed enhancement company Incotec, part of Croda, has announced an investment in their North America business. The total investment of Read More
Nufarm Seed Treatment lab formulations
Seed/BiotechNew Lab, Company Realignment Strengthen Nufarm’s Position To Serve Seed Treatment Market
October 6, 2016
As part of its “One Nufarm” strategy, Nufarm is realigning and uniting resources to further enhance the focus on its Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer, West Central Distribution Introduce Fungicde Seed Treatment For Soybeans
October 6, 2016
Bayer and West Central Distribution are introducing a new combination fungicide treatment for soybean plants, Redigo 480 + Trilex, to Read More
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
Trending Articles
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
AGCO RG700 cab
OpinionRoadblocks To Precision Ag Innovation
October 5, 2016
On August 29, I got to preside over the PrecisionAg Innovation Series event, “Game-Changing Advances in Precision Farming Technology,” developed Read More
J.C. Ramsdell containment system
EquipmentClear Opportunity In The Tank Market
October 4, 2016
Crop prices may be down, but steel prices are too — and that’s good news for retailers looking to add some Read More
WinField booth Farm Progress
Special ReportsTalking Weed Management Strategies At Farm Progress 2016
October 2, 2016
The annual Farm Progress Show — this year staged in Boone, IA — is always a great place to catch Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed 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
Latest News
ManagementHighlights from the PrecisionAg Vision Conference
October 28, 2016
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matthew Grassi discuss what was talked about at the 1st annual PrecisionAg Vision Conference and provide Read More
Crop InputsOhio State Researchers Announce Progress on ‘Phos…
October 27, 2016
Researchers at The Ohio State University are investigating new techniques to detect organic phosphorus compounds in water samples from the Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program To Launch…
October 26, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program will expand the voluntary retailer program to the full state of Ohio, allowing nutrient Read More
AGCO RG700 at the 2015 National Farm Machinery Show
EquipmentAGCO Parts Rolls Out No-Interest, No-Payments Offer Via…
October 26, 2016
AGCO Corp. is now offering an innovative financing solution on qualifying Parts and Service transactions. Now through December 31, 2016, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsIncotec Invests In North America
October 25, 2016
Leading seed enhancement company Incotec, part of Croda, has announced an investment in their North America business. The total investment of Read More
Patriot 25th anniversary
SprayersCase IH Celebrates 25 Years Of Patriot Sprayers At Bens…
October 24, 2016
Case IH executives, employees and special guests celebrated 25 years of production of Case IH Patriot sprayers in a special Read More
4r Nutrient stewardship
StewardshipNominations For The 4R Advocate Program Due October 31
October 24, 2016
Nominations for the 4R Advocate program are due to The Fertilizer Institute by October 31, 2016. The program recognizes agricultural Read More
Corn close up
Eric SfiligojProtecting Agriculture’s Ability To Feed The World
October 24, 2016
The rate of change coming to agriculture is growing, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This Read More
Student Young Worker CHS
CropLife 100CHS Supports #FirstJob Compact
October 24, 2016
CHS joins the White House and many of the country’s largest employers in signing a new initiative centered on helping Read More
Kennebec Grain terminal
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Kennebec Facility Loads First Rail Cars
October 21, 2016
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans Read More
ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting…
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesFMC Begins Registration Process For New Fungicide Activ…
October 19, 2016
FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint U.S. EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new Read More
Soil Young Corn
Industry NewsAgribusiness Search Firm Appoints New Managing Partner
October 18, 2016
Morris Bixby Group, a leading agribusiness search firm providing the highest quality professional recruiting and career advancement services since 2000, Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
FertilizerUnited Suppliers Acquires Kansas Fertilizer Business
October 17, 2016
United Suppliers, Inc. has purchased the assets of Evans Enterprises, LLC, an ammonium chloride fertilizer business based in Olathe, KS. Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsFMC Launches New Operations In Argentina, Exits Joint V…
October 17, 2016
FMC Corp. has exited its joint venture with Ruralco Soluciones S.A. FMC has launched new commercial operations, FMC Quimica S.A., Read More
Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sul…
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Whys Of Agriculture
October 17, 2016
During 2016, there have been myriad challenges facing the whole agricultural industry. Such wide ranging issues as water protection, sustainable Read More
Young Corn Field
FertilizerImproved Phosphorus Management Essential To Feeding Wor…
October 14, 2016
With a global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, improved management of key essential nutrients such as Read More