$3 bil­lion

What farm­ers spend an­nu­ally on what FBN terms as re­la­beled corn and soy­bean seeds.

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fer­ences may re­sult be­tween va­ri­eties with the same ge­net­ics of­fered by dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies, says Ca­vanaugh.

“There are farm­ers who just want the low­est price pos­si­ble,” he says. “Oth­ers want the largest amount of value they can get for the dol­lars they spend. That is the type of cus­tomer who is at­tracted to us. We of­fer farm­ers a free re­plant pro­gram and ex­clu­sive seed treat­ments on all our seed. There are also fi­nanc­ing pro­grams that ac­com­pany seed pur­chases, and also our Prac­ti­cal Farm Re­search (an agro­nomic test­ing pro­gram of­fered to cus­tomers).”

These ser­vices and oth­ers cost money and are re­flected in the seed price, he adds.

Va­ri­etal pop­u­lar­ity can also im­pact pric­ing, says LaV­i­gne. “Did they (farm­ers) come in late (to buy) a pop­u­lar va­ri­ety of which there was not a lot of sup­ply left? Those kinds of things can all come into play,” he says.

So far, FBN’s anal­y­sis hasn’t swayed McDaniels’s seed­buy­ing strat­egy.

“It has changed some of the va­ri­eties I’ve looked at within Pi­o­neer, but it hasn’t shifted me away to an­other seed com­pany. Most of that has to do with the re­la­tion­ship I have with a lo­cal dealer. In good times, the value of that re­la­tion­ship you have with a dealer will have more pri­or­ity than the cost of seed. But as mar­gins get thin­ner, and if I can get the same per­for­mance for a $200 bag of seed (corn) vs. $300, the price of seed be­comes a big­ger is­sue.”

“I haven’t had any big ‘aha’ mo­ments that have saved me lots of money,” adds Palen. How­ever, he used FBN’s anal­y­sis to avoid va­ri­etal over­lap when plant­ing a corn va­ri­ety trial.

“It en­sured we did not un­know­ingly en­ter the same va­ri­ety from two dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies,” he says.

For Combs, the trans­parency brought by ef­forts like FBN’s re­port gives him the abil­ity to bet­ter se­lect seed and eval­u­ate seed prices.

“My dad did not farm,” he adds. “I had to start on my own, 18 to 19 years ago. I have grown from 79 to 2,000 acres. I didn’t get there by giv­ing money away.”

Gil Gul­lick­son has in­cluded crop pro­duc­tion in his agro­nomic cov­er­age for sev­eral decades. Email Gil.Gul­lick­son@ mered­ith.com

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