Relative Maturity Differences
Prices aren’t the only factor that can differ between seed varieties sharing the same genetics. The Farmers Business Network (FBN) analysis found that when multiple brands sell the same variety, relative maturities differ 55% of the time.
In soybeans, relative maturities may range from early-maturing Group 000 varieties to latematuring Group 9 ones. Corn relative maturities may range from early-maturing 79-day hybrids to late-maturing 120-day hybrids.
“When seed brokers present products to companies, they have a relative maturity rating for them,” says David Thompson, Stine Seeds marketing director. “But after it goes into their testing programs, companies can assign their own relative maturity ratings.”
“It’s not unheard of for a company to step up or drop a relative maturity,” adds Shawn Conley, a University of Wisconsin Extension agronomist. “Say they need a Group 2.6 bean to fill a hole in their lineup. “They can call a 2.2 (or a 3.0) and move it up (or down) to fill it,” he says. In the case where a later-maturing variety is moved downward, the variety can still be green when nearby soybeans with the same relative maturity are ready to harvest.
Weather and the environment in which seed is tested can influence product performance, says Jeff Hartz, a seed industry consultant. “This can lead to different maturity interpretations,” he says.
“It is not like creating a bolt and a nut that will perform the same way anywhere you put it,” says Andy LaVigne, American Seed Trade Association chief executive officer. “That is why seed companies spend such a large amount of time testing genetics in an area to help farmers make informed decisions.”
In Stine Seeds’ case, it’s led to labeling soybean relative maturity as a range, such as from Group 2.4 to 2.6 soybeans, Thompson points out.
Hartz advises farmers to study how specific products perform on their own fields.
“That’s the best way to interpret any brand and its relative maturity rating,” he says.