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Would You Buy Your Seed Corn At SAM'S Club?
After you've bought your toilet paper and breakfast cereal on your next trip to SAM'S Club, there's one more item you might want to pick up - next year's seed corn.
Unity Seeds, Kentland, Ind., is believed to be the first and only company in America to market its hybrids through a consumer-type superstore. Unity now sells its corn through selected "SAM'S Clubs" in 11 Midwestern states.
"My brother Mark and I were on the way to a field day early one morning and were discussing new ways to market our seed corn," explains Cathy Simons-Standish, one of the owners of the family-operated business that used to grow seed for other companies. "SAM'S Club came to mind because we shop for a lot of our supplies there. One store in Terre Haute was the first to take it on, then others began calling because it did so well."
Seed corn sales through SAM'S Clubs are growing "exponentially" because it's a "win-win" situation for farmers, Simons-Standish says.
"When farmers are getting less than $2 per bushel for corn, our price of $51 per 80,000 kernel bag looks pretty attractive compared with up to $100 or more for hybrids from the competition," she says.
But how do Unity Seeds' hybrids stack up against the competition?
"It's always one of my highest-yielding hybrids," says Verl Schoenrock of Fairbury Neb. He's planted 25 to 30 bushels of Unity Seeds 6285, a 113-day seed corn, since SAM'S Club in Lincoln started selling it five years ago.
For example, in 1996, Unity Seeds yielded 114 bushels per acre on dryland corn, compared with 95 and 99 bushels per acre for comparable Pioneer numbers and 79 and 96 bushels per acre for comparable Northrup King numbers. It was also the driest at harvest, Schoenrock adds.
"Besides the yield and dry-down advantages, it costs about half as much per acre to plant," he says, adding that the price more than makes up for the 150 mile round trip to Lincoln and back to pick up his seed.
Unity's hybrids can usually be found in the "seasonal" goods section of the clubs, al-though they're sometimes placed at the front of the store or at the end of an aisle.
Altogether, 12 Unity Seeds hybrids are available from SAM'S Clubs, ranging in maturities from 85 to 116-117 days. The company will also be introducing transgenic hybrids through SAM'S Clubs next year and is planning on adding clubs in five more states bordering the Midwest.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Unity Seeds, 803 N. 3rd., P.O. Box 344, Kentland, Ind. 47951-0344 (ph 800 338-4558 or 219 474-5810).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5