What are Top Farmer Priorities When Buying Seed?

08:04AM Jul 08, 2020
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Chris Lively grows 4,700 acres of corn, rice, soybeans, wheat and pecans in the Mississippi Delta.
( Photo by Chris Bennett )

Price, plant health, yield, vigor and more, what considerations weigh heaviest when buying seed? Three growers offer perspective from Illinois, Indiana and Mississippi.


Adam York, Illinois

Adam York, 39, grows corn and soybeans on 10,000 acres in west-central Illinois, along with his brother, Nick, and uncle, Jeff York, on soils ranging from black to sandy to heavy gumbo.

“You can find a lot of good seed varieties and hybrids from pretty much any company, but what is missing is a focus on nutrient density. I look for that when I buy seed and it is so hard to find,” says the Morgan County producer.

“If a plant has nutritional balance and the right minerals when growing, then it produces superior, nutritionally-sound seed. When that same seed later gets planted, it’s so much better and has nutrient density and balance as it starts off as a small seedling and is able to get up and get going and survive whatever Mother Nature throws at it,” York adds. “We look for nutrient density and that value—but ‘value’ is an overused topic in agriculture.”

Rick Clark, Indiana

Rick Clark grows alfalfa, corn, soybeans and wheat on 7,000 acres in west-central Indiana’s Warren County, on silty, clay loam soils. Plant health ranks as the top concern when Clark considers a seed purchase: “No. 1 for me is always plant health because I don’t use fungicide, insecticide, seed treatment or chemicals. Plant health is the supreme seed factor for me, but at No. 2, I need the best vigor available, even though I always plant late into covers.”


“I also want to see more research on genetics that shows which plants thrive because of their mycorrhizal nature,” Clark continues. “Mycorrhizal fungi are critical for soil health and we need traits that thrive in that environment.”

Chris Lively, Mississippi

Chris Lively grows 4,700 acres of corn, rice, soybeans, wheat and pecans in the Mississippi Delta. The Coahoma County farmer chooses seed based on a treble of considerations.


“Price is always a factor in buying seed, but my No. 1 factor in determining seed is plant characteristics/disease ratings. I also look at yield data in soil specific to the variety,” Lively says. “I use all three of those categories to choose the best seed that I need for the farm.”

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