Don't Let Talk of Seed Shortages Elsewhere Scare You

Most Indiana farmers should have adequate choice of varieties.

Published on: Dec 11, 2009
Bad news sells, sometimes even in agriculture. Reports of frosted seed corn or badly-damaged soybean seed tends to travel fast, as all bad news does. The truth is that seedsmen believe seed supplies in Indiana and most of the Midwest for both corn and soybeans will be good. You may have to be flexible if you had your heart set on the latest, greatest, hottest variety or hybrid, but you should be able to find all the good quality seed you need.

Take the frosted corn scenario for example. Curt Clausen, director of seed processing in North America for Pioneer Hi-Bred, confirms they did have a few fields like that, but not across the heart of the Midwest. The clock simply ran out in some cases, especially further north, before the seed dried down to a level acceptable to Pioneer to harvest. Because they always raise extra and because they raise seed all over the country, it's not a significant factor, Clausen says.

Other reports talk of poor quality soybean seed. Again, Clausen says that's just not the case, particularly across the heart of the Corn Belt. The varieties grown most widely in those areas are in maturity groups 2, 3 and 4. The higher the number, the more full season the variety.

"Soybeans are much more delicate than corn and we have somewhat less control over moisture because most dry in the field," Clausen says. "But for most of the Corn Belt, the areas where farmers grow Group 2,3 and 4 soybeans, we feel good about having a good supply of quality soybeans ready to sell."

That certainly covers most of Indiana. Even in northern Indiana, few farmers plant earlier than a group 2 bean. Many as you begin to move farther south in the state plant late group 2 varieties, and some plant a few group 2 varieties so they can spread out harvest, and perhaps plant wheat, while beginning to rely more heavily on group 3 varieties. As a general rule, yield potential tends to be higher for many excellent group 3 varieties than for most group 2 choices.

Soybeans falling somewhere in the 3.0 to 3.9 range of maturity dominate in central Indiana. As you move south, some farmers use group 4 beans. While you can find group 5 soybeans grown in southern Indiana, they're more prevalent after you cross the Ohio River and move into Kentucky, and then go even further south.

"Where farmers grow groups 0, 1 and 6 and 7 soybeans, we may have more challenges," Clausen says. "We don't have a final report in yet form those areas.

"What's encouraging so far is based on what we've seen reported to us to date, we're pretty comfortable, especially for varieties suited to the center of the Midwest," he concludes.