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Best & Worst Buy Seed Corn Survey
What's the best seed corn variety you planted last year? What's the worst? How many acres of each variety did you plant? How could seed corn companies improve in terms of service, price, varietal information, etc.?
These are some of the questions we asked 3,000 randomly selected corn growers in an effort to highlight seed corn varieties and companies that perform with flying colors, and to pinpoint the "lemons" that fail because of poor performance.
FARM SHOW's survey indicates that drastic changes have taken place during the last decade in market share between the two industry giants, Pioneer and Dekalb-Pfizer Genetics. In 1977, when FARM SHOW last reported industry statistics, Pioneer had a market share of right at 30% and Dekalb's share stood at 20%. Today, Dekalb and Pioneer have increased their combined market dominance to 54% but their respective market shares have changed. According to our survey, Pioneer seed corn is now grown on approximately 42% of all U.S. corn acres while Dekalb's share has fallen to around 12%. Of all farmers who responded, 55% plant at least some Pioneer and 23% plant at least some Dekalb. Other companies that made strong showings in our survey but none of which had a market share above 3.5% were Jacques, Garst, AgriPro, NC + , Funks, Crow, Prinstons, Landmark, Keltgen, Good Buddy, Northrup King, and Agri-Gold. Corn farmers reported growing more than 100 different varieties.
The most-often heard complaint from farmers concerned price. "Seed corn companies raised prices to cover costs when land and commodity prices went up. Now they should lower prices to reflect changed market conditions," was a common refrain by respondents.
At planting time, 57% of corn growers surveyed plant corn with a Deere planter, 23% plant with International, 7% with White or Oliver, 5% with Allis Chalmers, and the rest use a variety of other machines. Right at 30% of the farmers reported that they had at least tried no-till and 7% say they're already using ridge till on some of their corn acres.
Here's how the rest of our survey shaped up:
"Pioneer is the highest-priced, over-rated corn I've ever planted. Lester Pfister corn gets the highest yields on my farm," says Marcus Wiley, Lebanon, Ind., who says he recently "narrowed up" from 36 to 30-in. rows and has started to no-till corn straight into soybean ground.
"Jacques seed is my worst buy," says Robert Martin, Marthasville, Mo. "Its size didn't run true so our stand was off due to doubles and skips. The same planter worked fine with Pioneer and Dekalb."
- Mark Kenan, Rippey, Iowa, had good results with Garst 8558 and Pioneer 3475. "It was very dry last year and these numbers handle stress well. EK Premium was the cheapest seed we bought and it lodged badly."
Lynn Stock, Waukon, Iowa, planted five different Pioneer varieties last year. "All did exceptionally well but 3737 was the driest and combined well."
"We tried five different varieties of Pioneer last year. We got the most yield from 3352 and the lowest from 3389, which also had the highest price per unit," says Dale O. Cover, Nevada, Ohio.
Richard Fitzenrider, Stryker, Ohio, got the same yields from his "best buy" seed corn varieties, Jacques 5400 and Pioneer 3744. "We got the lowest yields and test weights from Pioneer 3389. We had the wrong weather for this corn in our area last year."
"It's easy to pick and yields well but it dries too slow," says Richard Hollermann, Farwell, Minn., about Stauffer BX302 which was a "best buy" along with Cargill's 822. He plants with two old Deere 490 planters welded together.
Don Parker, McCutchenville, Ohio, who no-tills about 90% of his ground, planted 14 different varieties last year. "Callahan 754 yielded the best at 164 bu. per acre. Pioneer 3572 came in second at 162 bu. Gries 500 is our worst buy. It looked good during the season but by harvest the corn had lodged badly even though it was the first variety we harvested."
"We had a 3-week drought just before it tasseled but we still got a good yield," says Wilbur McCormick, Humboldt, Kan., pleased with NC+ 6190

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1986 - Volume #10, Issue #2