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Will there be enough seed for the '09 crops?

Agriculture.com Staff 07/03/2008 @ 9:32am

If you're worried about how Midwest flooding will impact 2009 seed supplies, relax...a little.

There should be plenty of seed to go around next year, particularly with soybeans. More concerning, though, is the availability of high-demand stacked corn hybrids. In those cases, you may want to consider locking up next year's seed corn earlier than normal.

Flooding hit prime Midwestern seed production areas, particularly east of I-35 in Iowa into Illinois and Indiana.

The situation is more pressing for corn than for soybeans. Corn hybrids result when breeders cross a male plant with a female plant (The female becomes a female due to removal of its tassel). Seed companies separately plant females and males, with two or more plantings occurring for the male plants.

When weather cooperates, multiple male plantings extend the pollination window. Excessive rainfall, though, can stymie multiple plantings and pollination.

"Farmers have had experience this year with problems getting into a field once," says Ryan Harms, a production manager and agronomist for Renze Hybrids. "You can imagine the problems with getting into the same field 3 times within a certain time frame."

Seed soybeans tolerate later planting better than corn. And since soybeans are self-pollinated, companies dodge the multiple and separate planting issues of corn.

"From the soybean side of our business, the impact will not be terribly significant," says David Thompson, marketing communications manager for Stine Seeds. "Obviously, there have been some washouts, some acres lost to production. In our system, though, we have lots of optional contracts where we have lots of extra acres."

If you're worried about how Midwest flooding will impact 2009 seed supplies, relax...a little.

Seed companies take steps to curb seed shortfalls in years like 2008. Typically, companies plan to produce 50% more seed than anticipated seed volume, says Chuck Lee, who heads the corn product line for Syngenta Seeds. Some companies are below this margin, some above it. In normal years, the bulk of it never leaves warehouses. But in years of weather-induced shortfalls, this safety margin enables companies to meet customer needs.

So what should you do?

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