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Published November 19, 2012, 10:44 AM

Seed corn shortages possible

The area corn harvest is just finishing up, but some farmers already wonder if they’ll have trouble obtaining corn seed for the 2013 crop.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

The area corn harvest is just finishing up, but some farmers already wonder if they’ll have trouble obtaining corn seed for the 2013 crop.

The best answer, at least for now, is that seed supplies will be adequate, but that farmers who hope to obtain the most advanced varieties should lock in their seed as soon as possible.

“We don’t mean to use fear here, but you really should be planning out your needs,” says Pat Steiner, head of the corn portofolio for Syngenta. Syngenta, a major player in seed and crop production products, is introducing 70 new corn hybrids for the 2013 planting season.

As matters stand now, he anticipates a possibility for “hybrid-by-hybrid spot shortages.”

Other seed dealers also stress the importance of farmers acting sooner rather than later.

“I’d really encourage farmers to talk with their seed salesman,” says Adam Spelhaug, who sells corn seed for Peterson Farms Seed in Harwood, N.D. “You should have that conversation.”

He says signs so far indicate that enough corn seed will be available, but some farmers may not be able to plant their preferred variety.

Tight supplies of seed corn were a big concern before 2012 planting, too. Some area farmers worry the supply could be even tighter for the 2013 crop. Drought in the Corn Belt affected seed corn production this year, and high corn prices are expected to cause regional farmers to plant more of the crop next spring.

But Keith Alverson, a Chester, N.D., farmer and a board member of the National Corn Growers Association, says he’s optimistic, based on what he’s heard so far, that enough seed corn will be available.

Mark Hamerlinck, communications director for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, says the issue of seed corn supplies is speculative and can be addressed only by seed companies.

Steiner says Syngenta is committed to providing a reliable source of seed corn. Seventy percent of the acres on which it grows seed corn is irrigated, he says. Also, Syngenta raises seed corn in a big geographic area to minimize the impact of drought, he says.

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