Production Blog

Make Sense of Seed

Gregg Hillyer
By  Gregg Hillyer , Progressive Farmer Editor-in-Chief
Seeds have their own beauty and hold immense promise. Art Director Brent Warren used common agricultural seeds to illustrate a series of stories called It Starts With Seed. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo illustration by Brent Warren and Barry Falkner)

No matter your crop of choice, success for any given year begins with the seed. Each kernel placed in the ground holds the potential to yield profitability for your farming operation, assuming Mother Nature cooperates, and commodity markets offer prices above your breakeven costs.

It's almost magical observing a crop develop throughout the growing season -- waiting for the seed to germinate and seeing the new seedling poke through the soil surface. Watching the young plant progress through various vegetative and reproductive stages, finally maturing and ready for harvest. It doesn't matter if it's your first crop or your 40th, the excitement and anticipation never fade.

Of course, there are many decisions you need to make to select the genetic and trait packages that perform best on your farm. Seed companies will soon be promoting their latest products and taking your orders for the 2022 season. It can be overwhelming sorting through so many choices.

Our crops team has produced a special group of seed articles to help you start thinking about your seed purchases and preparing for next year. These pieces provide insights and information on a wide range of topics including plant breeders' efforts to make crops more resilient and weather extremes to opportunities to grow seed for various firms.

Don't miss the link to the comprehensive table that details every commercially available Bt corn product. The Bt Trait Table is an especially helpful source if you are sorting through products that have been compromised by insects. A pull-out guide of that chart can be found printed in full detail within the September issue of Progressive Farmer magazine.

A growing array of insecticides, fungicides, nematicides and plant growth regulators get coated onto crop seeds these days. Some come preloaded on the seed in complicated proprietary treatments. Other times, you may be asked to pick and choose from a cafeteria of options.

The article "Chart Identifies Seed Treatment Products, Active Ingredients" helps sort through the offering by linking to a chart that lists every active ingredient and seed treatment package registered for use on seeds in Wisconsin. However, the list should cover the major options for all U.S. row crop growers.

Don't overlook those seed tags on bags or multi-unit boxes. They contain valuable information and we help interpret what is listed in another segment in this seed series.

The landscape of the seed industry has shifted dramatically over the past few years. Consolidation has changed the names of favored seed brands and some of the faces that work to bring you important products. This DTN series includes interviews with senior managers of the four major seed companies and outlines some of their top priorities.

We hope you'll take time to go through the entire seven-part series. It will give you some additional seed sense to jump-start your planning process, help you to make smarter decisions that can lead to higher productivity and profits.

And keep your eye peeled for more coverage as our crops team continues to dig into this critical industry.

Remember, it starts with seed.

Gregg Hillyer can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @GreggHillyer


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