Seed World

Seed Companies: How to Leverage your Strengths?

Nov 7th, 2022 … I woke up early to catch the lunar eclipse around 5:19 AM. As I sat outside watching the lunar eclipse develop, I noticed another strobe light moving right to left just under the developing eclipse. It was the ISS traversing the night sky and I marveled at the opportunity to see both nature’s and mankind’s work of art.

It made me reflect on how far seed innovations have come since last 10,000 BC with emmer wheat. All the selective breeding of various crops up until 1900 when cross breeding entered followed by hybrid breeding and mutational breeding. These all depended on phenotypic expertise by plant breeders looking for “that best cultivar”. As our knowledge expanded into the genome, we learned more about what controls what which took us to places we could only imagine. At today’s knowledge pace, plant breeders can identify specific genes for a specific function and mark them molecular markers and then “surgically edit” individual base pairs or amino acids…Wow! This has sped up the rate of seed innovations faster than Growers can understand the “how”.

As seed companies, your partnership with growers and their farming needs enable you to make prescriptive recommendations based on your portfolio offerings, grower’s objectives, soil profile, environmental conditions and timing. This is not an easy task particularly when you don’t know many of these variables that can affect the crops yield potential. It would seem that a KEY ADVANTAGE should be a grower’s trust! Without trust you may only be guessing at what their objectives may be.

A seed company’s relationship with a grower is a key to EARNING and RETAINING a grower’s business. This means investing in PEOPLE that are customer focused, solution minded and always learning. Learning about people, their goals, your portfolio and how to provide holistic solutions that go beyond your specific product offerings. Each seed company should be molded around a company culture that can spur on success throughout the organization.

Interactions with growers should always be positive and forward-looking about the investment made into the next generation of seed innovations. Whether it’s next year’s genetics, the trait offering, agronomic package or seed treatments, growers need to know they are working with companies that continually invest in future seed innovations. Today’s seed companies invest approximately 15% of revenues into new seed innovations … vegetable companies are more in the 20-30%with the more diverse crop portfolios. Plant breeders and agronomic service teams work together to achieve lofty goals such as 2-3% year-over-year yield gains in elite varieties which contain all the maturity groups, trait offerings, agronomic packages and seed treatments that fit the diversity of environments.

Seed companies come in many shapes and sizes, with breeding programs or licensing genetics and trait offerings. Your company culture determines how well your salespeople are focused on unmet customer needs and providing tailored solutions to meet that grower’s goals. No doubt our seed business is a relationship business, but it is moving at a much faster pace due to all the technological progress being made with new breeding techniques like gene editing. Growers seek out unbiased information to make informed decisions.  Be the seed company that provides that type of information via the grower’s preferred method of information gathering whether via sales calls, unbiased yield plots, online searches and more importantly unsolicited 3rd party recommendations from other growers!  

Always end a sales call with “Did I meet your expectations?” You may be surprised! Trust is a key advantage … build upon it!