‘Not the Clear View Expected’ for Seed Sales in 2020

For seed, conventional wisdom for 2020 was high indeed. Looking through the lens of 2019, the category experienced a very rough, uneven year. Across much of the country, persistent cool and wet weather during spring months gave rise to a new worry for seed — prevent plant.

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In fact, by the end of 2019, an estimated 19 million acres laid fallow.

Based upon this lack of seed planting in 2019, most ag observers anticipated that 2020 would see seed category revenues move ahead significantly as a result. When taking stock of seed in 2020, the image remained blurry.

Let’s eyeball some of the numbers. According to 2020 CropLife 100 survey, the seed category’s overall sales dropped 2.1%, from $4.8 billion in 2019 to $4.7 billion. If there was some good news in this figure, however, it was the fact that this decline wasn’t enough to affect the seed category’s overall revenue market share, which remained flat at 15%.

The 2021 Outlook

With 2020 not materializing as the “full recovery year” the seed category expected, does the 2021 season look any brighter? The answer is “maybe.”

To determine how next year will play out for seed, an observer needs to consider what/how many crop seeds CropLife 100 ag retailers think their grower-customers will plant in 2021. For the most part, the majority of respondents believe seed demand next year will be flat for the three major crops — corn, soybeans, and cotton.

For corn and soybeans, the views among CropLife 100 respondents are very even. According to the survey, 36% think corn acreage will grow in 2021, 44% think it will remain flat, and 20% believe it will be down. Soybeans’ split is similar — 41% up, 42% flat, and 17% down.

In cotton, the acreage vision is much clearer. Here, 82% of respondents think acreage will be flat. The remaining 18% split between up (13%) and down (5%).

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