Corn seed supplies ‘tight’

There might be a shortage of the newest lines of seed corn in the Dakotas this year.

“With the new traits growing in popularity, the seed companies didn’t have a good enough production year in the U.S. to meet the demand, so they had to go to South America with about 20% of their production on the newest stuff,” says Darren Hefty, of Hefty Seed Co., headquartered in Baltic, S.D.

“We got really hot around pollination time, which hurt seed corn yields here. Ironically, in Argentina they are facing hot and dry conditions during pollination right now.”

Key Points

Hot, dry weather last summer hurt corn seed production.

All acres are likely to be planted, but the newest lines are being rationed.

The soybean seed inventory is described as “very good.”


All companies are rationing the hot, new numbers, he says.

“We’re getting 60% to 80% of what we ordered on some of the best new numbers. Other numbers, we got 100% of what we ordered early. Worst-case scenario would have a farmer getting 60% to 80% of what he thinks he wants on a couple of new numbers, and he has to take much of the same corn he planted last year for the rest of the acres. It’s not the end of the world.

The funny thing is, nobody knows what kind of weather next year will bring, and the hybrid that won the plots this year could be a middle-of-the-pack performer next year. It’s definitely not something to get stressed out about,” Hefty says.

Dan Sartell of Wensman Seed, headquartered in Wadena, Minn., writes in an email that due to extremely hot conditions during pollination “most of our seed fields did not meet yield goal. Reductions ranged from 10% to 25% of expectations. This same phenomenon hit almost every seed company out there.

“The corn seed supply situation with Wensman is indeed tight. We currently have almost 80% of available inventory booked. Many hybrids are sold out. Wensman is working with its customers with a mix of products to meet their needs. We are confirming inventory right now so customers know exactly what they will be getting. We have never had this much corn confirmed this early,” he says.

Growers who have not booked corn yet “will find the marketplace pantries almost bare,” he says.

“There is lots of interest in the new refuge-in-a-bag, or RIB, hybrids. Farmers are very willing to go with a one-bag solution for all their acres. Almost all Wensman RIB products are spoken for,” Sartell says.

Adam Spelhaug, Peterson Farms Seed, headquartered in Harwood, N.D., says that while seed supplies are tight, the situation is not all that unusual — especially in North Dakota where corn acres have been increasing rapidly. Supplies are tightest for the newest, shortest-season hybrids, he says.

Wensman has also seen lots of interest in early soybean bookings, again well ahead of the normal schedule, Sartell says.

“Our inventory of beans is very good, and we anticipate no problems meeting grower demand,” he says.

Malt barley seed scarce

Malting barley seed is apparently hard to find. The number of acres of certified seed production in 2011 was the lowest on record with the North Dakota State Seed Department.

“There was a perception in the industry that there was a reduced demand for certified seed,” says Steve Sebesta, North Dakota State Seed Department deputy seed commissioner, “[and] the wet weather throughout the planting season across the state prevented seed growers from getting into their fields in a timely manner and damaged other fields that had been planted.”

Certified seed growers whose fields passed field inspection in 2011 are listed in the NDSSD’s 2012 Seed Directory.

Also, NDSSD contacted all certified seed growers who have produced barley seed in any of the last three years to to see if they had any seed eligible for certification. The list is posted in the “News” section of NDSSD’s website at www.ndseed.com.

“While the list is not lengthy, it’s a start,” Sebesta says.

Most popular varieties are PVP Title V protected and may be sold only as a class of certified seed. Common seeds of Title V varieties are prohibited and would not meet malt contract requirements in some cases.

Source: NDSU Agriculture Communications


This article published in the February, 2012 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.