Early Questions About Seed Supply Get Positive Answers

Companies work behind the scenes to make sure hybrids will be available.

Published on: Sep 7, 2011

The fact that at least one field of irrigated seed corn missed the knick this year, producing cobs with much fewer kernels than normal, is not a rumor, it's fact. The rumor part is how many more fields of seed corn there are out there in the industry. Rumor is that at least one person was instructed by the company he grows for to disk down a certain line already because it missed the knick, and the field isn't harvestable.

Yet there aren't signs of panic amongst seed companies so far. To the contrary, one company says 90% of its acres are irrigated, and it doesn't foresee a problem with seed shortages.

Another company acknowledged that yields of certain hybrids produced by crossing two inbreds won't be as high as usual. Often the female line is the one that determines how hybrids matchup between tasseling and pollinating in tough years. Some female inbred lines are much more sensitive to things like heat stress and dry weather than other inbred lines, making that hybrid harder to produce.

Nevertheless, this same company says seed supply shouldn't be a problem. They customarily grow more acres than they anticipate needing, which will allow them to harvest enough seed to meet demand this year. A few hybrids may be produced overseas this winter due to tough production problems this summer. The result is expected to be ample seed supplies this summer.

On the other hand, some wonder if the pollination glitches that resulted in ears with less than 100% pollination will rule in more large, round kernels. Typically if a kernel doesn't have a neighbor it tends to grow larger and become a large round in seed classifications.

Large rounds tend to be harder to plant uniformly with certain planters than other sizes of seed. However, many companies offer adjustments for planting large, round seed. If that's what you end up with next spring, it may mean studying your planter manually for settings for large seed. In some cases, like with certain vacuum planters, you may need to buy a bigger, specialty disk that's designed to handle larger seed.

Some also believe, whether it's proven or not, that large rounds aren't as vigorous as other sizes of seed. Whether the difference is real, and if it is real, if it's enough to worry about, remains to be seen. In some cases, if you want certain hybrids, big rounds might be your only option.