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Why is shopping for seed such a challenge?

zeven wenhui/ThinkstockPhotos Treated corn seed
Corn seed.
We’ve had a hard time finding seed or seed reps who meet our qualifications.

The last two years we have been ‘interviewing’ seed corn companies. We are picky buyers who require excellent germ, low damage, high quality grain, and very high non-GMO purity. Those properties are in addition to constant need for yield, vigor, standability, etc.

Despite early ordering, and willingness to accept early delivery, we’ve had a terrible time finding seed that makes the grade.

During our search, we have encountered all kinds:

The nodder - We were having emergence issues on a few fields. The company sent the agronomist for a visit. He looked at the field, asked a few basic questions, then just nodded in agreement with everything we said. He never offered any solution or reason for the issues. So, when we quit volunteering information, the quarter mile walk across the field back to the house became eerily quiet.

Later in the year we had a herbicide sensitivity issue with another of their hybrids. The herbicide stunted the corn and it stopped growing. Finally, on July 3, we threw in the towel and tore up the field. The company president told dad: ‘don’t worry, you’ll make that (yield) up on some of our other corn you planted’. It’s kind of hard to make up for 40 acres of corn. That went over like a lead balloon and was the end of the conversation (and any future sales).

Just get the deal - All this sales person wanted was a signature on the bottom of the order sheet. We had gone to his office so we could talk to the plant manager about the quality issues we had been having, what they did different, and if they could make specs. Several times during the 40-minute meeting he offered the order pad to get a signature. I guess you can’t fault the guy for trying to close the deal! Looks like this company is still in the running, as corn performed well.

The blamer - We tried three hybrids from this company’s profile. While harvesting there were some yield and standability issues, especially in one of the three hybrids. The company rep came out and proceeded to blame us for that hybrid doing substantially worse than the others. I’m sure it must have been our fault since the other two hybrids were okay. Never mind that we had flag tests and season long tissue tests. Maybe he should have asked that question! We won’t be buying there again.

Never seen again - We sought out this company when we were shopping. They had a few hybrids we kept seeing pop up in plots. We placed an order and the seed was delivered. At delivery, they left a nice fact sheet binder specific to the hybrids we had purchased. Mid-summer, the corn was looking pretty good, so we attended their field day an hour away. That was our last contact with them. They never called or stopped by. The order was sitting on the desk all winter long.

Well, at this point in the story, you might think our main dealer (who usually reads the blog) may be breathing a sigh of relief. But he’s already been put on notice that he needs to meet the specs with products that perform.

Over the next few weeks we will review our yields, comb plot data, and make decisions for 2021. We’re going to choose the best hybrid fit for each field regardless where it comes from.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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