Seed corn bags

Not all seed companies accept returned seed. It certainly could be kept from year to year under good storage conditions and if it’s not treated.

Darren Bailey had about 800 prevent plant acres last year, all soybeans. He didn’t have any problem returning the unused seed because of the way he operates.

“When we bargain, I will not deal with a chemical, fertilizer or seed company unless they have the flexibility to deal with us,” said Bailey, who farms about 11,000 acres near Xenia, in Clay County. “Many seed companies are charging fees for returning seed. But the places where we do business offer that flexibility.”

Indeed, some farmers who were unable to get all their crops in because of heavy precipitation in late spring had a challenge returning seed.

BASF seed agronomist Greg Ury said that while most companies accept returned seed corn, soybeans can be a different matter.

“Farmers with seed they don’t want will either dump them or do something else with them,” he said. “If they’re treated, we have to figure out a way to get rid of them. We don’t keep soybeans from one year to another.”

Ed Rohrer, a field production manager with Bayer CropScience, said germination rate for older seed is often a factor. It may depend on corn hybrids.

“Generally, if we’re talking about corn, it slowly deteriorates,” he said. “Some genetics deteriorate slower than others.”

Not all seed companies accept returned soybean seed. Pioneer representative Sarah Strutner said the company willingly takes returned seed corn, regardless of treatment.

“We will not accept treated soybean seed,” Strutner said. “That’s our policy.”

While corn keeps longer than soybeans, it is possible to keep soybean seed for long periods, according to University of Illinois agronomist Brian Diers.

“It certainly could be kept from year to year under good storage conditions and if it’s not treated,” Diers said. “In a germplasm collection here, they keep seed viable for 10 years. You can store seed for a fairly long time if you have good conditions.”

He did acknowledge, however, that research facilities generally use high-tech methods to store seed.

“I’m assuming that if the seed is brought back, companies would have cold storage to maintain viability,” he said.

Bailey said he is familiar with policies companies have on refusing some returned seed. But he has not personally encountered any problems.

“I have not heard anyone talking about having to sit on seed for next year,” he said. “Things have been pretty tough the past few years. A lot of the dealers recognize that. That’s one thing that makes it easier.”

Regarding availability for the 2020 planting season, representatives contacted say they don’t anticipate any shortages.

“We don’t foresee any issues,” Strutner said. “With beans, we still have all three main traits available. We’re also OK with corn now. But ask me in March, and I may have a different answer.”

Ury also is positive about supply.

“Availability is going to be pretty good,” he said. “Yields were better than we expected, and quality was good too.”

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Nat Williams is Southern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.