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Did September Storms Impact Seed Supply?

From Cotton Grower Magazine – November 2014

 

The third week of September was an eventful one in the Southwest region of the Cotton Belt.

On the High Plains, seed companies prepared to host hundreds of cotton producers at their respective cotton field days. At the same time, Hurricane Odile was idling in and around Arizona in its final stages. What was at one time a Category 4 hurricane began to slowly weaken throughout the week before finally deteriorating into a remnant storm by September 19.

Those two occurrences – the seed company field days and the hurricane – were intertwined in more ways than one.

A wayward band from the storm forced attendees at one PhytoGen event back onto a bus while hail pelted display plots just outside the windows. Other companies were forced to cancel events altogether. Meanwhile, some 700 miles away in Arizona, seed production plots for those same seed companies were being rampaged near the center of the storm system.

Each of the major U.S. seed companies utilizes land in Arizona and West Texas for seed production each year. Naturally, when a severe weather event occurs in the region, concern over seed availability arises. But, say seed company representatives, there are steps in place with each company to overcome weather setbacks in seed production.

For Deltapine, the key to avoiding problems is to spread out production plots across many regions.

“You have to produce seed all across the Cotton Belt – everywhere you can,” Keylon Gholston, Deltapine cotton product manager, said in an interview from 2012 regarding drought concerns. “We grow a variety in as many areas as we can, anywhere it’s adaptable.

“We also look to try to produce at least two times the amount that we actually want. Of course, that increases (our) cost, but you’ve got to be a dependable supplier to the customer. So we’ll bear that extra cost to make sure we’ve got sufficient quantities of each variety.”

Cody Poage, operations manager for All-Tex Seed and Dyna-Gro Seed, said his company takes a similar approach. In fact, none of the seed companies interviewed about seed availability expected any significant seed shortages due to the impact of Hurricane Odile.

With that in mind, many seed industry representatives say growers should expect varieties featuring XtendFlex technology, which offers dicamba tolerance, to be in limited supply in 2015. The technology was brought forth by Monsanto, and is slated to potentially be featured in Deltapine, Americot, NexGen, All-Tex, Dyna-Gro and CROPLAN brand seed varieties in 2015.

For that to happen, however, the technology must first receive regulatory approval. And even if that comes to fruition, growers can expect the new trait package to be in short supply in 2015. Seed industry representatives say this is due to several reasons – particularly the regulatory limitations placed on seed production, and of course, Hurricane Odile.

“(Deltapine) did seed production of XtendFlex varieties this year in a regulated environment, so our production is somewhat limited,” Gholston said. “But we should have enough weather cooperation to get the crop harvested to have a really good introduction year. We want to give growers an opportunity to look at the genetics and the new technology.”

Shawn Carter, seed agronomist for Dyna-Gro and All-Tex, said the hurricane could potentially impact production of his company’s XtendFlex variety introductions for 2015.

“I feel very comfortable being able to handle 12 to 15 percent of our sales in dicamba-tolerant varieties,” Carter says. “We should be able to cover that, despite the hurricane.

“It hit right where we grow our seed production, along with the other seed companies. But we do have other plots out there – some in other parts of Texas and some in Mississippi. So there are other options to choose from for our seed production.”

For now, growers can rest easy knowing seed availability won’t be an issue for their established favorite varieties in 2015. As Gholston points out, the plan for the XtendFlex technology was always to release it in a limited supply in 2015, while targeting 2016 for a full introduction.

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