Despite some early shortages, seed supply appears to be hitting a steady benchmark, according to Seth Hill.
Hill, who manages Champion Seed based in Ellsworth, Iowa, said his company had to deal with some shortages of early season corn.
“Due to all the moisture last year, so many people switched to earlier corn or had to use earlier maturity corn for replants,” Hill said. “Early is relative to your exact location but it did put some stress on sub 100-day products. Those products will really need a good growing season this summer to get back to normal supply levels.”
Hill said soybeans have been “a breeze” compared to last year’s supply, which suffered due to the wet 2018 harvest. After 2018, Hill noted they stepped up production to account for unforeseen variables. Because of that, seed supply should be in decent shape moving forward.
“Yes, there are going to be shortages of certain numbers, or shortages of a new soybean trait, but that is also a benefit of booking seed early and locking in some of the newer high demand items,” Hill said.
Kyle Vavricek, a seed representative with Wyffels Hybrids, said many of his customers haven’t opted to change their planting plans dramatically. He said Wyffels was able to get much of their seed crop planted and harvested on time, which helped boost their seed stocks.
He said his father is a dealer for another company that has seen some customers change their minds on seed and choose to go a lot lighter on soybean this year, though not necessarily due to any supply issues.
“He had one customer just ditched beans altogether,” Vavricek said. “He wasn’t happy trying to control weeds and timing and all that, so he said ‘forget it, I’m just going to plant corn.’”
However, Vavricek has heard from a few farmers that seed supply was a concern for them. Due to a couple of tough growing seasons in a row, combined with worldwide uncertainty about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact matters, farmers are asking if seed will be ready to go when they need it.
“There’s no one looking around to jump ship yet,” he said. “I do know that’s been a concern on guys’ minds.”
For farmers looking for the most cost-effective seed, going cheaper might not always be better, Hill said. A less-expensive seed may not be as productive, he noted, and in times of lower prices, it could make a world of difference to go for the higher quality.
“It is more imperative than ever to get as many bushels possible,” Hill said. “Producers can only impact the bushels side of the equation, not the price side.
“There are a lot of cheaper alternatives on the marketplace, but a lot of times when you evaluate the cheap seed you purchased in the fall it usually turns out to be the most expensive when looking at the return on investment.”
Ultimately, when it comes to making sure the right amount of seed is available, it comes down to getting the crop in on time and hoping for the best.
“We just are really hoping for a — I don’t know if we can call it normal — but a year that is a little more normal than we’ve had the last few years,” Vavricek said.