Diversify Your 2012 Crop Plan

Nick Benson, Latham Corn Product Specialist

The value in working with a financial planner comes from diversifying one’s portfolio and reducing financial risk while maximizing returns.  For the same reasons, it’s advantageous for corn growers to work with a knowledgeable seed representative to create a diversified hybrid seed corn portfolio.

Planting a “portfolio” of corn hybrids has multiple benefits:

  1. Hedge” risk with different genetics – Even by picking products with various trait packages, a farmer can’t be 100% sure that he or she has a diversified line-up as genetic provider don’t always match up with trait providers.
  2. Plant hybrids with varying relative maturity – Spread your risk by planting a minimum of three or four different hybrid numbers.  Different flowering dates can help reduce yield loss due to heat during pollination.  For example, in 2011, hybrids with under a 100-RM were hurt worse in my particular area, but this is dependent on geographies.  Planting later hybrids worked well this year because drydown wasn’t a problem.  Some years are the exact opposite where hybrids don’t want to dry down and the earlier products can really pay off.
  3. Balancing offensive and defensive characteristics – Each year presents its own set of challenges:  weed pressure, insect pressure, heat stress, emergence issues, disease pressure, overall yieldability in relationship to an “offensive” vs. a “defensive” year, drought tolerance and trait performance.

No financial planner worth his weight is going to advise clients to invest solely in mutual funds or high-risk stocks.  That’s also why I’d never advise farmers to choose their seed portfolio based only on top-yielding varieties in F.I.R.S.T. Trials.  While yield trials and plot data can help influence one’s seed purchasing decisions, they should NOT be the only – or even the primary – basis for choosing seed products.  Choosing seed based on growing conditions in one location during one year is like picking your stocks based on only last year’s performance without considering factors that might cause market shifts. Additionally, a grower shouldn’t choose seed based solely on a product guide description.  That’s comparable to choosing your financial portfolio after view the stock market in the Wall Street Journal.

A good seed representative will know how to best diversify your portfolio.  One advantage of working with a seed representative from an independent company is that you can rest assured the products will truly be genetically diverse.  Only an independent seed company can draw from multiple genetic pools to ensure diversity, and that means you can be assured your products were developed to work best in your geographic region rather than having to perform across the nation.

We believe the stakes are simply too high to not view seed selection as a portfolio.  That’s why, at its most basic level, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds’ hallmark Seed-2-Soil® program helps corn growers determine which hybrids will help minimize risk while maximizing returns.  Contact your local Latham representative or the Latham office to learn more about how you can balance your seed portfolio for 2012!