One of the first questions after a year like this one is always what seed supplies will be like. Will there be enough seed? Will there be good quality seed? And will you be able to get the varieties and hybrids that you want?
The quick answers based upon sources reporting in so far are yes, there should be enough seed, yes quality of what makes it into the bag should be good, and whether you get all you want of every hybrid or variety is questionable. But the answer to that last question pretty much turns out that way every year.
One challenge is estimating demand for hot hybrids or varieties, or knowing what they will be. Sometimes demand changes. Yet Curt Clausen, director of North American production operations for Pioneer Hi-Bred, says decisions about how much to grow on each hybrid must be made a year in advance.
"We're feeling really good about supply and quality of seed corn right now," he says. Every customer may not get all they want of hot numbers, but Clausen also says that's a phenomenon that happens almost every year.
Pioneer routinely grows extra acres as insurance, he says. The strategy is paying of this year. It's one of the factors that helps him feel comfortable with where the company is on corn seed supply for this year.
"We also didn't see much problem with diseases in our seed corn," he says. That's partially because seed corn is harvested earlier, at higher moisture contents.
"We did battle higher moisture contents than usual, and that slowed down our drying process," he says. But it won't be an issue with quality in the end.
Since their production is spread out over the entire U.S., some seed corn was still in the field when frost arrived. But Clausen believes they were right to stick within their standards of acceptable moisture for harvest rather than harvest extremely wet seed corn just to beat the frost. Their upper limit is around 38%.
"We've found that if you harvest corn much wetter than that you can really have issues later on," he says. "We stuck as close to our normal operating standards as possible."
Because they do grow corn in various locations, they have the option to move seed form one location to another if one area was hit harder on seed yield or quantity. What's grown in Indiana isn't always sold exclusively in Indiana anyway, he notes.
The bottom line is that Clausen expects to have a good supply of high-quality seed for sale this winter.