In 2014, CropLife 100 dealers saw seed sales rise 13% over 2013 levels. And another good year is in store for 2015, thanks in part to the host of new products with beneficial traits that have been added, subtracted and shuffled to protect — and advance — yields.
“I still view the seed segment as very strong for 2015,” says Jeff Tarsi, vice president of strategy and international retail at Crop Production Services, Cordova, TN. “With commodity pricing down, the importance of maximizing yield is even stronger. Growers will want to give themselves every chance of producing maximum yields by starting with a strong seed program.”
Seed purchase recommendations will continue to be even more precise in 2015, as crop advisors identify variability within fields. “With advancements in precision ag technologies, we now have more opportunity to fine-tune these recommendations,” says Duane Martin, product lead, commercial traits at Syngenta. “Readily accessing data such as soil type, EC maps, and NDVI and historical yield maps have helped us better identify management zones in the field — and really identify realistic yield potential of each area of the field.”
At Ceres Solutions, Crawfordsville, IN, seed division manager Brock Frasch has seen large-scale adoption of new technologies like variable rate seeding and nitrogen application because of the yield results that have been achieved.
“Through advancements in plant breeding, the advent of traits, and a better understanding of how these products can react within an environment has greatly contributed to increased yields,” says Frasch. “Improvements in yield have been drastic in the last 10 to 15 years, and a lot of that can be attributed to the seed industry.”
Traits Waiting To Take Off
From what we’ve been hearing, growers and retailers are chomping at the bit to get seed with the 2,4-D- and dicamba-tolerance traits. In 2015, Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo will be launched in conjunction with a carefully stewarded introduction of Enlist corn and seed production of Enlist soybeans. And Monsanto anticipates USDA approval for its Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System with dicamba tolerance.
Amy Asmus, co-owner of Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, does not believe these new technologies will have much of an impact in 2015, though. “I think we will be waiting for approval in China before we see their widespread use. We just don’t have the grain infrastructure or procedures in the U.S. to handle the many unapproved traits and keep them separate for domestic consumption.”
Syngenta’s Martin says the current China corn import situation is representative of the larger issue of asynchronous global technology approvals. Without asynchronous approval process among countries, the global grain trade will continue to face problems that have the potential to disrupt trade and/or withhold technologies from growers, he says.
“We’re hopeful that the work of the USDA, the National Grains Council, the National Corn Growers Association, the MAIZALL group and others, will result in a more streamlined global regulatory review process for new technologies,” so no undue burdens are placed on growers, technology manufacturers, technology resellers or the grain trade.
Asmus adds that one good thing may come from China’s delay on newer traits: The U.S. may be forced to look at how it handles grains and perhaps work on bringing those facilities and procedures into the same era of technology that the ag industry has taken other aspects of production.