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N.D. Producers Should Buy Seed Stocks Now for Spring Planting

Survey results demonstrate that North Dakota’s certified seed producers are committed to providing their customers high-quality seed products that improve our state’s agricultural industry.

In January, the North Dakota State Seed Department initiated a survey of North Dakota seed growers to identify how much certified seed potentially had been sold on the commodity markets.

“At the root of the question were high commodity prices, particularly for durum and spring wheat, which created attractive alternatives for seed growers to market their seed production,” says Steve Sebesta, North Dakota State Seed Department deputy seed commissioner.

Surveys were mailed to 573 spring wheat, durum and barley seed producers. The response rate for surveys or questionnaires generally is not very high. However, recognizing the potential impact of high commodity prices on seed inventories, 366, or 64 percent, of North Dakota’s seed growers responded. With the high commodity prices for durum since harvest and recently for wheat, the department expected to see more growers disposing of their seed production. However, only 12 growers (3.5 percent) sold their entire seed inventory to the elevator. That means 96.5 percent of the seed growers who responded have maintained some level of inventory of certified seed for sale.

“The critical issue is the number of bushels available for spring planting,” Sebesta says. “Overall, it appears that approximately 16 percent of the seed was sold as commodity, leaving approximately 84 percent of the seed inventory available for sale as of Jan. 31. An analysis by crop is perhaps most interesting. The remarkable increase in commodity durum prices beginning last September created significant concern about seed availability for the 2008 planting season. However, the data suggest that certified durum seed producers maintained nearly 90 percent of their 2007 production for sale. The numbers were not as strong for spring wheat or barley. Roughly 84 percent of the seed of those two crops was being held for seed.”

This is the first time that the State Seed Department has surveyed seed growers for this kind of information, so there is no historical perspective to know whether this year is any more abnormal than other years in terms of seed supply.

“Given the high commodity prices, one would have to logically make that assumption that supplies would be sold off,” Sebesta says. “However, the department has received very few calls from farmers expressing concern that they cannot find seed for planting.”

Sebesta says the State Seed Department is aware that tight inventories can lead to increased illegal seed transactions and warns the public that the unauthorized sale of seed of varieties protected by a Plant Variety Protection (PVP) certificate is illegal. Most varieties that are available for planting are protected by PVP Title V, which is a federal law.

PVP gives variety owners the exclusive right to determine who has the right to produce and sell seed of their varieties. The PVP Title V option means that seed must be sold as a class of certified seed. Only growers who purchase eligible classes of certified seed and complete certification through an official seed certification agency are authorized to sell seed of PVP Title V varieties. The State Seed Department is the state’s certification agency. Violations of PVP laws can result in fines levied by the department of up to $5,000 per violation and, more significantly, variety owners may seek compensation of up to triple the damages, plus court costs and attorney fees.

“These results demonstrate that North Dakota’s certified seed producers are committed to providing their customers high-quality seed products that improve our state’s agricultural industry,” Sebesta says. “Keep in mind that these numbers only are as good as the data provided by respondents as of Jan. 31. Producers who have not lined up their seed for spring planting are urged to do so very soon. Market volatility could change the situation very quickly and they should not expect seed suppliers to hold onto inventory indefinitely.”

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Steve Sebesta, (701) 231-5400, ssebesta@ndseed.ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu


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