With commodity prices under pressure, purchasing decisions can be even more stressful. “It’s a fine line between being prudent and being cheap,” says Chris Barron, president of Carson and Barron Farms in Rowley, Iowa. “Stay focused on your specific needs and purchase accordingly.” As you consider products for your operation, focus on the six Ps of smart seed buying.
The first thing you need to do is understand your soil, says Erich Eller, owner of ForeFront Ag Solutions. “Then you can start matching genetics with soil — that produces yield. Traits don’t produce yield. Traits keep stress off the plant and help stop a yield reduction.”
Do you have experience with this product or offering? If not, what credible information sources can highlight the pros and cons of the product? “It’s easy to buy something based on its attributes, but also recognize the weak points so you can manage around them,” says Barron, also a financial consultant for Ag View Solutions.
Each year, set realistic expectations for your hybrids and varieties, Eller suggests. This will allow you to evaluate new technologies and determine which are beneficial and which are unnecessary.
“Be aware, there are many hybrid and technology choices,” Barron adds. “Be sure each purchase is feasible on its own merits.”
Carefully analyze bundled products within packaged deals. Does your seed company also have the best crop-protection products? “Be leery of packaged deals and more concerned about healthy crops and dead weeds,” Barron says.
Peace of mind
To ensure products fit your comfort level, Barron suggests asking questions. What types of guarantees are offered? What if a product performs poorly? “Don’t let convenience get in the way,” he says.
In a consolidating industry with employee turnover, having a seed salesman you trust pays dividends, Eller says. “One guy has good seed and the guy down the road also has good seed,” he says. “Who do you trust to buy your seed from?”
Focus on the cost per unit of each product, Barron says. If you purchase $100,000 worth of seed for 1,000 acres with a 200-bu. yield estimate, you could produce 200,000 bu. Divide your cost by expected production to determine cost per unit. In this case, your seed cost would be 50¢ per bushel. “This math will help you make better purchasing decisions from one year to the next,” he says.