Few businesses impact farmers like that of the tiny seed
It all starts with the seed. No other input has as much impact on how you prosper. Just as seeds come in all shapes and sizes, so do seed companies. Those that remain after nearly two decades of intense industry consolidation are fiercely competitive.
Here’s a look at how some seed companies are positioning themselves in the marketplace to deliver new technology and breakthroughs that bring more bushels to the bin.
Bayer Makes Major Splash
The big news this past spring was Bayer CropScience’s purchase of Arkansas-based Hornbeck Seed Company. Bayer, a trusted corn and soybean trait developer, has already shown what it can do on the seed side of the ledger through its FiberMax cotton business.
"Within a 10- to 15-year time frame, we want to be a strong player in the soybean market," says Mathias Kremer, head of Bayer’s BioScience business group. Bayer is already a first-string seed player globally in canola, cotton and hybrid rice and plans to use a similar model to develop its soybean business. The company’s Nunhems vegetable seed business is a global player, and more veggies are in the business plan.
Wheat is also on the plate. In the past 12 months, the company has acquired germplasm from North America, Europe and the Black Sea region for use in its own breeding program. Additionally, Bayer is partnering with third parties such as Evogene and CSIRO to develop traits to improve wheat productivity. Varieties could be headed to the farm by 2015.
Pioneer Pumps Up
Getting to know its grower customers better is paying off for Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. Judd O’Connor, vice president and U.S. regional director, says a restructuring into six regional business units is giving the company a more localized look.
O’Connor says the strategy has taken Pioneer’s business market share to 36% in corn and 36% in soybeans for 2011, marking multiple years of gain. Investment from DuPont into crop genetics is helping to enhance the company’s product lineup. More account managers and agronomists are part of the localized approach.
Pioneer’s agronomy trials manager system, announced in September, will put 40 agronomists in the field to evaluate agronomic practices during the next three years.
"In prior years, we had more of a North American focus when advancing new products into our lineup, but today we focus locally," O’Connor says. "By putting the local needs of growers first, we can respond more quickly in the marketplace."
- December 2011