Seed Companies Tout Big-Time Anniversaries

Marketing gimmicks help them gain attention.

Published on: Sep 14, 2011

The DeKalb seed brand is 100 years old. Monsanto, current owner of DeKalb is making the most of the anniversary to promote the reputation of DeKalb. Many other companies are doing the same.

For example, Beck's Hybrids is celebrating 75 years. The 75th anniversary is a common one for companies this year, because hybrid seed corn burst onto the scene for real in the 1930s, about 75 years ago.

Great Lakes Hybrids promoted that it was their 90th anniversary at the recent Farm Progress Show. Their display based on this anniversary was perhaps most telling. They had two single-row corn planters, horse drawn of course, one red and one green, cordoned off with a split-rail fence. Right next to the old planters was a high-tech, semi-permanently mounted video screen, with the display at eye level. The video pictures were of the old days of corn production, and the early days of the company.

What these anniversaries don't always note, at least not upfront, is that there have been many changes in ownerships since the original company was founded. That's not the case for a family-owned company like Beck's Hybrids, which was started and is still owned by the same family. In fact, the third generation of the founder is amongst the leadership in the company.

DeKalb, on the other hand, has seen ownership changes. Now part of Monsanto, it prides itself on delivering top genetics and hybrids with the latest traits available. Monsanto utilized DeKalb genetics to deliver some of its first Smart Stax hybrids a year ago. Smart Stax is an important part of DeKalb's marketing strategy.

Ag Reliant, a breeding company owned by two foreign companies, supplies genetics for a host of companies, including Great Lakes Hybrids. Great Lakes Hybrids has typically been stronger in northern Indiana and Michigan than in southern counties.

Ag Reliant also develops genetics for Agri-Gold. This brand also celebrated its 75th anniversary this year. Agric-Gold officials held a press-conference at the 2011 Farm Progress Show near Decatur, Ill., announcing that they were strengthening the brand and that they hope to introduce another hybrid in their Giant line-up for next year. The Giant program is their own creation. To become a Giant hybrid, that hybrid must meet strict performance criteria set out by Agri-Gold.

The company also announced a major change in their replant policy for 2012. Anyone who purchases corn treated with Poncho/Votivo will be entitled to a 100% replant policy guarantee. That is new for Agri-Gold.