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

Liquid Fertilizer Storage tanks
State of the IndustryComplex Fertilizer Market Brings Mixed Feelings
January 5, 2016
Declining fertilizer prices and plentiful supplies should be good news for growers facing low crop prices. But they and their Read More
Asmus Farm Supply crop protection products in storage
State of the Industry2016 Crop Protection Outlook: The Guessing Game
January 4, 2016
One would naturally assume that retail sales of crop protection products in a contracted market would themselves be contracted, but Read More
Seed corn bags in storage
Special ReportsThe Outlook For Seed In 2016
January 3, 2016
Among all crop input categories going into 2016, the seed category has as many questions regarding which direction it will Read More
Wilbur-Ellis’ new fertilizer blending facility, located in Mott, ND, was designed by A.J. Sackett & Sons.
State of the IndustryBuying Intentions Survey: Retailers Taking A Prudent Approach In 2016
January 2, 2016
The CropLife® magazine Buying Intentions Survey made its debut last year to gauge current industry trends against the retailer’s plans Read More
Trending Articles
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Aerial Drone
Precision AgA Deeper Dive Into The Future Of Precision Ag
May 9, 2016
For about two decades now, through the good and the bad times, the ups and the downs inherent in agriculture, Read More
Palmer amaranth in soybean stubble
HerbicidesWSSA: Billions In Potential Economic Losses From Uncontrolled Weeds
May 4, 2016
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
Latest News
ManagementWashington Visit and Bayer/Monsanto Deal Update
May 26, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discusses a recent trip to DC and the latest news on the proposed pairing Read More
Fertilizer closeup in hand
Industry NewsVerdesian: Striking A Balance Between Yield & ROI
May 26, 2016
Finely tuned nutrient management plans are helping farmers throughout the U.S. improve nutrient use efficiency, increase return on investment (ROI) Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Announces Minnesota Water Quality Pa…
May 25, 2016
Governor Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski today announced a new public-private partnership to protect Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Establishes Global Headquarters In R…
May 25, 2016
Arysta LifeScience has announced plans to relocate its global headquarters from West Palm Beach, FL, to Cary, NC, over the Read More
fertilizer blending and storage, Top 100
BlendersCHS Dakota Expansion Features AGCO’s GSI InterSys…
May 25, 2016
The continued growth of precision agriculture has increased farmer use of customized fertilizer blends best-suited for their soil conditions. Several Read More
ManagementAgriculture 3.5: A Bumpy Road Ahead
May 24, 2016
You may have read my article a few years ago on Agriculture 3.0, which is a term I coined to Read More
Topcon’s X30 display with CropSpec sensors
EquipmentGPS Autosteer Systems: Product Updates From Precision A…
May 24, 2016
Throughout 2015 GPS Steering solutions continued to evolve from what was once an after-market add on, to today’s cab where Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojThe Precision Ag Revolution Continues
May 24, 2016
It’s funny how much “the first time” tends to mean to someone as they get older. I sometimes can’t recall Read More
Eric Wintemute, AMVAC
Precision AgAMVAC Ups The Ante With New Precision Ag Technology
May 24, 2016
A potentially industry-changing at-plant soil treatment system from American Vanguard Corp., or AMVAC, is coming soon to large growers in Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
CropLife 100CropLife 100 Map
May 24, 2016
The new CropLife 100 map shows the locations of each of the headquarters of the 2015 CropLife 100 retailers. The interactive Read More
Southern States Cooperative
Corn Field
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Names Veteran Account Manager To Lead Central…
May 23, 2016
With the continuing growth of the sulphur bentonite and precision crop nutrient industry, global agriculture firm H.J. Baker has announced that Read More
Bayer sign
Industry NewsReuters: Bayer Defies Critics With $62 Billion Monsanto…
May 23, 2016
German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Hires Industry Veteran To Lead Plant N…
May 19, 2016
Compass Minerals has hired plant nutrition industry veteran Vatren Jurin to steer the company’s portfolio expansion into specialty liquid micronutrient Read More
ASMARK Retailers LIVE! Tour 2016 Group shot The Andersons
CropLife 100The Andersons Rejects Unsolicited Proposal From HC2
May 19, 2016
The Andersons, Inc. has announced that its Board of Directors has rejected two non-binding, highly conditional, unsolicited proposals from HC2 Read More
glyphosate
Crop InputsWHO: Glyphosate ‘Unlikely’ To Cause Cancer
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter Kate Kelland: The weed-killing pesticide glyphosate, made by Monsanto and widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, Read More