Seed Systems Top Watch List

The New Year finds many dealers anxiously awaiting a variety of new trait technologies, as seed companies move the newcomers through trials and regulatory requirements. Then too, retailers are trying to find new ways to make the current wide variety of seed available more profitable in light of customers’ escalating demands and climbing seed prices.

The most talked-about traits these days tie in to growing herbicide resistance problems and offer new approaches using long-standing weed control tools. Specifically, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Plus Xtend System allows plants to metabolize dicamba, while Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Weed Control System enables crops to metabolize 2,4-D.

Mike Malone, president of Agri-AFC, Decatur, AL, is one dealer who thinks the new seed will be good for his business and “an excellent tool for resistant weeds.” But he says the technology could present the same problems as Roundup and Liberty. Growers will be tempted to see the systems as one shot over-the-top weed control and neglect following up with vital residual herbicides.

Malone should know about herbicide system “abuse.” His region has faced the now-infamous herbicide resistant Palmer amaranth problems, thanks to bad application strategies.

The leadership team at North Central Farmers Elevator, Ipswich, SD, has talked about the traits internally, especially voicing concerns about how big a challenge the new crops are going to be custom application-wise. “Even in educating farmers …  they get confused between the two traits just talking about them,” says Lane Mielke, director of operations.

He envisions needing to teach growers to keep good records — to make sure they know what they’re planting and make sure they’re telling North Central the right product to put over top of it. “There are certainly going to be some mistakes made over this deal,” he adds.

Part of the problem lies in the compounds’ toxicity and volatility. To address this issue in part, Dow has developed a new premix called Enlist Duo that contains glyphosate and a new formulation of 2,4-D choline that promises ultra-low volatility, minimized potential for drift, lower odor and better handling characteristics than commercially available 2,4-D amine or ester formulations.

Mike Vande Logt, executive vice president and COO, Land O’Lakes Inc., St. Paul, MN, believes use of the dicamba/2,4-D traits will enable the continued use of reduced till and no-till, environmentally friendly systems that will ultimately increase the sustainability of agriculture.

“These systems enable increased water and fuel conservation, thereby decreasing the inputs per bushel,” he says. “This is a real big deal in the world of agriculture.”

Vande Logt says the products’ biggest challenges lie in their stewardship. Improved formulations, drift reduction agents, proper nozzles and the right spray conditions will enable both trait technologies to work safely and effectively.

Dry Times

Dealers we talked with also expressed optimism about the new drought resistant technologies, now at varied stages of trialing, regulatory approval and marketing. Syngenta is offering Artesian, Monsanto has developed DroughtGard and DuPont Pioneer will sell Optimum AQUAmax.

Vande Logt says the drought traits are interesting in light of the fact that growing seasons seem to be getting hotter and drier, especially during grain fill. The technology will also allow corn movement further west into the High Plains.

As long as yields are comparable to non-drought-tolerant seed, Malone thinks the products will be a fit for his company. In fact, in Georgia, where the bulk of his customers’ acreage is irrigated, the seed could help reduce irrigation in some areas.

Located in the central sands of Wisconsin, Jay-Mar Inc. is in a region where “every year has drought-like conditions unless you have irrigation,” says Wayne Solinsky, head of sales. He’ll try the seed, providing they are not priced “too crazy high.”

Indeed, Mielke thinks there’s “a lot of marketing with these products and not a lot of value yet,” but he sees exciting possibilities as the traits progress. He does admit that when growers see the words “drought guard” on a hybrid, they think it’s going to be able to go through anything. “The expectation is higher than it really should be,” he says. Ultimately, he believes sales of the drought products will triple and quadruple, limited only by supplies.

Variable-Rate’s Slow Rise

Variable-rate (VR) planting is being seen as one new way to get the biggest bang from high-tech varieties. Helping growers use this practice is still a work in progress at many dealerships.

Mielke definitely sees the value in VR, and precision planting recommendations are a growth area at North Central. For instance, many growers want to push planting populations every year, but face consistently poor-performing areas in fields. “As a bag of seed gets higher and higher priced every year, customers are wasting dollars planting high populations in those areas,” he explains. Variable planting would put the right seed in the spots identified as generating the highest yields.

Mielke also thinks VR planting will be a good tool for growers in the future to provide calibrated field information to crop insurance companies. The data could eliminate the need for representatives to go out to the farm to measure bins, for example.

One challenge for North Central has been how much to charge for VR recommendations. Growers don’t realize how many man-hours go into processing yield data, and the price can be a sore spot for customers when they get the bill.

Solinsky says VR planting is seeing strong interest from his growers. Jay-Mar already offers VR fertilizer, and VR irrigation is “starting to come on strong.” He says with the varying soil types in sand in his region, the technology makes sense.

So far only a few customers at Agri-AFC are doing precision planting. But through the company’s AccuField precision services, staff can draw up the prescriptions for growers, then send the data out via modem or memory stick. Malone believes that as producers become more comfortable with precision ag and what it can bring to them, this technology will grow.

Seed Relations

Dealers we talked with had a variety of opinions on how seed companies do business and on how they can improve going forward.

Malone says his team has a “tremendous” relationship with its seed partners and works closely with them, particularly in engineering Agri-AFC’s variety trials. In fact, the dealership’s agronomy department has taken some of the load off a few seed companies, planting its own cottonseed trials throughout its territory and sharing the results with these suppliers.

Mielke points out how many brands are actually under the same umbrella of ownership. Yet, “it blows my mind how many wasteful dollars are spent in the industry fighting each other — yet both the seed reps’ paychecks have the same name on them at the end of the day,” he says.

He is also concerned about seed companies’ “bad habit of looking out for number one instead of maybe their customer, unlike what we have to do.”

Bottom line: Solinsky really wishes seed companies would change the way they do business. “They all play the same game,” he says. “They come out with their prices, usually too high, then try to go after other chemical/seed companies by offering bigger discounts to convert them with special deals, but loyal customers get very little.” His advice: Stop the games and drop the price so the price is what it is — so it doesn’t matter how many bags dealers/growers buy, how many extra dollars suppliers will throw in or how many free bags they will throw in.

Solinsky feels cost of seed is one of the biggest challenges facing his business and growers. Seed cannot get so expensive that growers can’t make money. He’s found everyone looks at the corn and soybean commodity prices, then tries to increase seed prices to what the market will bear.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

State of the Industry Stories

Fertilizer Tender close-up
MicronutrientsHow Micronutrients Fit Into 2017 Fertility Plans
January 10, 2017
Where do micronutrients stand going forward in fertility plans? For one thing, Tim Mundorf, Field Representative with Midwest Laboratories, says Read More
Fertilizer application
State of the IndustryCautious Optimism On Fertilizer In 2017
January 10, 2017
What kind of fertilizer rates are growers and retailers looking at in 2017 and beyond? According to stakeholders CropLife magazine Read More
Asmus Farm Supply crop protection products in storage
State of the IndustryCrop Protection Products Market: Complexity Begets Opportunity
January 10, 2017
While other key market segments in agriculture continue to see tumultuous shifts in sales volumes going forward (large equipment sales are Read More
Pioneer corn seed in storage
Special ReportsState Of The Seed Industry: Better Later Than Never
January 3, 2017
Traditionally, the majority of the nation’s grower-customers made their seed planting decisions in the late fall. Normally, when folks attended Read More
Trending Articles
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
Young Corn Plants
Crop NutritionStill Hunting Yields
April 1, 2017
There’s no denying it — the agricultural marketplace today is undergoing a fundamental shift in fortunes. Not too many years Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teaching Fertilizer Education
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
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
Latest News
AGCO Ratliff featured
EquipmentAGCO Mourns Passing of Company Founder, Industry Vision…
April 25, 2017
AGCO Corp., a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, mourns the passing of founder and former President, Read More
Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsINNVICTIS CROP CARE Introduces VANDAL MOC Soybean Herbi…
April 25, 2017
INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC has announced the U.S. EPA registration for VANDAL MOC, a combination of sulfentrazone plus metolachlor. VANDAL Read More
Kochia
HerbicidesINNVICTIS CROP CARE Launches STAVE Post-Emerge Broadlea…
April 25, 2017
INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC has introduced STAVE as the newest addition to­ its expanding portfolio. STAVE will be a great Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationSonny Perdue Confirmed by Senate as Next Agriculture Se…
April 25, 2017
After months without a secretary of agriculture, the Senate voted Monday evening to confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to Read More
BPIA logo
Seed/BiotechBPIA Files Comments with USDA
April 24, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) has filed comments with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Read More
Eric SfiligojHope for Application Equipment Sales
April 24, 2017
The old saying goes that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” If this is indeed the case, then things may Read More
Stewardship video screenshot
ManagementNew Video Raises Awareness of 2,4-D Stewardship
April 24, 2017
A new public service video developed and produced by the 2,4-D Research Task Force, in conjunction with the American Soybean Read More
ManagementAn Inside Look at Award Winning Ag Retailer Gar Tooteli…
April 20, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses An Inside Look at Award Winning Ag Retailer Gar Tootelian Read More
Students Soybean Field
Industry NewsMACA Announces 2017 Young Leader Scholarship Recipients
April 19, 2017
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) Board of Directors selected 11 college students to receive the MACA Young Leader Scholarship Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
SoftwareKnoa Software Solution Helps GROWMARK Boost System Perf…
April 19, 2017
Knoa Software, a leading provider of user experience management (UEM) software, has announced that GROWMARK, Inc., a regional agricultural cooperative Read More
Crop InputsFBN Publishes ‘Voice of the Farmer’ Agricul…
April 17, 2017
Farmer’s Business Network (FBN) released today its “The Voice of the Farmer”, which the company is describing as “a special Read More
ManagementTalking Responsible Ag
April 13, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the Responsible Ag program with director Bill Qualls. Read More
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
Crop InputsWhat do Roundup and Mickey Mouse Have in Common? Califo…
April 13, 2017
(SOURCE: East Valley Times) Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup and many other weed killers, is being added Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop InputsSource: ChemChina to Divest Assets to Adama Following S…
April 11, 2017
China National Chemical Corp. plans to redistribute agrochemical assets to its Adama unit after the $43 billion takeover of Syngenta Read More
Farming drone air
Eric SfiligojThe Interest in UAVs for Agriculture Grows
April 10, 2017
At times, it seems as if experts have been predicting “big things” for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for several years Read More
OpinionOpinion: Taking On The Farmers Business Network
April 8, 2017
Well, another round of venture capital funding has come to Farmers Business Network (FBN), followed up with the obligatory feature Read More
Drone
EquipmentFarming Drones: The Future Of Agriculture?
April 7, 2017
Chances are, you already know drones are amazing. After all, this is something DroneLife readers just understand. But if you’re Read More