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9 seed questions for 2013

Gil Gullickson Updated: 11/27/2012 @ 3:59pm Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

Here are answers to some of the questions you have about seed for 2013.

1. Will there be enough seed?

Seed companies say there will be. They use irrigation to dent drought's impact on seed production. Firms also tap South America and Puerto Rico for winter seed production. Companies aren't just spinning when they say they hit 100% or more of the year's anticipated seed production.

Still, there are seed fields in which drought or other production problems impacted supplies. Even though a company's total seed production may be 100% of its goal or higher, bear in mind that some hybrids and varieties may be below or above that level.

“It's not evenly distributed across hybrids,” says Jeff Hartz, director of marketing for Wyffels Hybrids. “There are highs and lows. It doesn't pay to wait if you have a hybrid you really want. If you want a specific product, order and reserve it early.”

Ordering now doesn't guarantee you'll obtain that hot hybrid or variety. Still, it does get you a place in line. “If you want to get a specific hybrid or variety, book it now and get it in your shed,” says Dave Thompson, national marketing and sales director for Stine Seeds.

2. Will I pay more for seed?

This depends on the specific hybrid or variety. Still, expect slight price increases across the board.

“There has to be a value equation that works for all parties,” says Hartz. “That starts to sound cliché, but all parties have to understand what is happening at each other's end. The cost of production has skyrocketed for the very reason that corn was $8 per bushel earlier this year. Seed production is a lot like commercial corn production, except with higher risk and in-put costs.” Seed costs vary widely due to transportation costs, added inputs, and other costs.

Hartz notes that the value equation has to work for farmers. Otherwise, they will flock to competitors.

“On the other side of the business, it (value equation) has to work to fund our research and licensing technology,” says Hartz. “We have to find a price that works for everyone.”

Expect soybean prices to increase, too. “In general, soybean seed prices follow the commodity market, so we will see increases at the seed end,” says Thompson.

3. How much should price impact my decision?

Cheap seed might be priced that way for a reason.

“I always ask about price after I decide what to plant,” says Rick Ryan, a Malcolm, Iowa, farmer. “If it's a good soybean variety, it can be worth $25 more per bag,” he says.

There is a limit to this, though.

“Price is always important to us,” says Kip Tom, a Leesburg, Indiana, farmer. “We are bottom-line managers. At the end of the day, we make a choice on seed and look at the price and how much impact it has on our bottom line. It might be that the higher priced seed delivers a better bottom line. But we may go to a lower cost model if we feel it has equal or higher yield potential.”

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