The Read on Seed

November 8, 2013 06:55 PM
The Read on Seed

Plenty of good corn seed available for 2014

What a difference a year can make. Seed company representatives say they are seeing good seed corn quality and supply coming in from the field this harvest. For nearly all of the companies, that’s a huge change from 2012, and for many, the past two years.

Companies providing an initial seed harvest status say that their total yield projections for 2013 are at target or slightly above target.

"Fall can either be the worst of times or best of times, and this one looks good; the combines and trucks are full," says Craig Newman, AgReliant Genetics president and CEO.

Overall, company yield results are about 10% above target. "It just depends on the hybrid and the geography; in some areas we have hybrids that are 30% above target and others that are 20% below," Newman adds.

Other seed suppliers report similar small peaks and valleys in their 2013 production. Tom Burrus, president of Burrus Hybrids, says the hybrids he’s evaluated to date are of excellent quality and in sufficient quantity. "We do have some allocated new products that are coming to the market because there weren’t adequate supplies of foundation seed to plant, but in most cases, supply is very good," Burrus says.

Better weather. Conditions at pollination made all the difference in quality this year, according to Dan Case, DuPont Pioneer supply planning manager, production operations. "We saw abnormally cool temperatures during flowering, and that tends to bode well for yield," he says.

Case notes the spring started wet and planting was delayed in many areas, much like it was for the commercial crop. Those conditions slowed growth and development early on, yet the cool temperatures aligned well with pollination timing. As temperatures spiked in August and early September, growth and maturity of the crop accelerated. Because most seed corn acres are under irrigation, the dry conditions late in the season did little to impede seed quality, Case adds.

"Unlike last year, we have no concerns about shortages or limited key hybrids; I’m feeling really good about where our inventory sits," he says.

Moderate seed size. Several seed company spokesmen say they anticipate the warm, dry temperatures that occurred late in the season will contribute to somewhat smaller and lighter seed. That’s probably welcome news for those farmers who had more large round seed to deal with than usual at planting, notes Matthew Brandt, corn product manager for DeKalb and Channel, Monsanto Company brands.

"Seed size looks good, and we’ll have a much better supply of the high-demand seed sizes, Brandt says.

Strong yields also mean the seed industry will not rely as much on winter seed production as it did in 2012. "Last year, the industry had a reactionary plan because of the summer drought, but this year, we’re in a position to enhance supply of the highest-demand products," Brandt notes.

Chris Garvey, Dow AgroSciences general manager for Mycogen Seeds, says the company is able to offer farmers a range of products going into 2014, both in new and mature technologies. "That gives farmers a number of good hybrid options to choose from and the ability to reach the price point they want for their farm," he says.

Cost-wise, company representatives say farmers can expect a price increase for 2014 corn seed of between 2% and 5%, depending on their hybrid mix.

While supply is good, Newman encourages farmers to be proactive. "Because this year’s crop is late, farmers are a month behind in their thinking," he says. "While there wasn’t a drought, to get what you want, you need to place your order with suppliers." 

You can e-mail Rhonda Brooks at

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