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Terral Seed: helping make every bushel count

Quick. Name the top four yielding corn-producing states in 2007. If your answer included states that begin with an I, you're only partly right. Two Mid-South states were the third and fourth highest-yielding (behind Iowa and Illinois) last year.

Thomas Terral isn't claiming his company's hybrids were solely responsible for Arkansas' and Louisiana's record-breaking yield performance. But he believes they helped.

“Because of the rising costs, we know our producers have to make every bushel count,” says Terral, president of Terral Seed, speaking at the company's annual Terral Seed Research Day at its field station near Greenville, Miss.

“That's why we've adopted the theme of ‘Running with the bulls.’ We know what it costs to grow these crops and that you have to make the highest corn, soybean and wheat yields possible to make a profit.”

Terral also sought to assure growers Terral Seed is doing everything it can to avoid a repeat of the 2008 planting season when supplies of some high-yielding soybean varieties ran short.

“We're doing our best to increase our supplies of these elite varieties,” he said. “We should have enough seed of everything you see out here today to meet your needs next year.”

And those products should be some of the highest-yielding available, according to Donnie Glover, Terral's research manager and soybean breeder, and Phil Michener, the Lake Providence, La.-based company's corn breeder.

“We're here to talk about one of my favorite subjects,” Glover told some of the crowd of 500 persons who attended the field day. “That's the high-yielding soybean varieties we're developing for our customers.

“We generally look at 10,000 lines of soybeans to get one variety that we think is suitable for our growers. And we test those varieties all the way from Interstate 10 in south Louisiana to the Missouri Bootheel to see where they are best adapted.”

Similar efforts are being put forward in corn, said Michener. “We breed these hybrids in our backyard to make sure they fit our conditions,” he noted. “We had one field that was 80 percent Sharkey clay that produced better than 200 bushels of corn per acre.”

Michener said Terral breeders are also looking at some innovative practices that could benefit Mid-South producers, including planting corn behind wheat.

“This could help growers make big money on corn and take advantage of big money on wheat,” he said. (Corn and wheat were trading for $7 to $8 per bushel each on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange when Michener spoke.)

Terral, which currently operates the only corn breeding nursery south of the Ohio River, tests nearly 90,000 corn lines annually in their search for improved corn hybrids.

“We have the ability to generate high corn yields in the Mississippi Delta,” says Michener, a graduate of the University of Illinois. “These new hybrids have the capability to fill your bins.”

Among Terral's corn offerings for 2009 will be TV25R31, a Roundup Ready product that Michener's calls the “No. 1 corn hybrid in the South.” (Terral's product literature says TV25R31 is one of the two best Roundup Ready corn hybrids on the market.)

Now that southern growers only have to plant a 20 percent non-Bt corn refuge, farmers are expected to show more interest in the stacked version of TV25R31 — TV25BR71 — and in other stacked hybrids such as TV25BR23.

“TV25BR23 is the hybrid we're calling the banker's buddy,” said Michener. “It will make yields that will pay the bills.”

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