The Economics of Certified Seed

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By Garth Donald, DynagraVRT

Farmers look at many costs when they are making a crop plan. But the one thing I always hear from a lot of growers is that certified seed doesn€™t pay year after year. Coming from Manitoba to Alberta back in 1997 I wondered why there were not more seed growers and then secondly where did the farmers get there seed from. Most growers in central Alberta do use bin run cereals as there seed source which a lot of the seed is one year off of certified. But one of the things that we in the Ag industry have to realize is that seven years of seed sitting in a bin doesn€™t mean that it is still one year off of certified. I found a study from Kevin Dhuyvetter and extension agricultural economist with Kansas State University showing the value of certified seed over common seed. This takes in some basic cost of cleaning, treatment and storage cost.  With using only a 5% increase in yield there is an $8.04/acre return.

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The reason I bring this up is not to say growers can€™t use their own seed but it is scientifically proven that the longer you go with the same seed the less desirable the traits become (ie contamination, disease, low protein, etc).  Growers are amazed when they compare a new variety to the old stand by and wonder why they are getting a higher yield and protein.  The industry has seen a 10% increase and higher in yield over the years due to the better genetics.  I am not saying you have to change varieties every year but I am saying with getting certified seed every year you have the opportunity to try something new more often and just because a variety does well on paper doesn€™t mean it is going to work on your farm.  The reason I have such a strong feeling on certified seed as I have witnessed the value of certified seed on our farm with at minimum breaking even on the seed cost.  Having the benefits of great genetics and quality seed will pay every time.

One thing that gets cut when input costs increase is a seed treatment.  A seed treatment is one of the most valuable thing when it comes to direct seeding.  It helps to ward off many soil and seed borne diseases and maintains a healthy plant.  With what we were finding this fall in the soil one might want to use a seed treatment that contains an insecticide for wireworm control.  We were finding many wireworms this fall and if conditions are there we could have a real outbreak.

There are lots of things we can do to get the crop off to a great start and as we know it all starts from the ground up.

Those are my thoughts,

Garth Donald C.C.A.


Garth Donald

I was raised on a mixed grains and livestock farm South West of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba close to the small community called Edwin where I was heavily involved in our farm. I started farming at the age of 14 renting 160 acres from my uncle which I mainly grew sunflowers. I went to school in MacGregor, Manitoba where I receive my grade twelve diploma. After I graduated I work full time on our farm until the fall of 2004 when I got at job at McCain Foods Ltd. in Portage la Prairie where I was working in the stock room. I was in charge of receiving goods and entering them into inventory as well as assisting the maintenance, electrical staff in getting them the parts they need to keep the plant running. After working shift work for a year I realized that it wasn’t my passion in life so I enrolled in the Agri Business program at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba. There I learned about agronomy, marketing and business. In between my first and second year I worked for Manitoba Pool Elevators at Petrel, Manitoba where I was in charge of many duties which included filling Anhydrous Ammonia tanks, blending fertilizer, equipment maintenance, soil sampling, field scouting, floating and mainly spraying. That year I sprayed 15,000 acres which isn’t a lot for most standards but that area is largely in the production of potatoes which is very intensive. After returning back to college for the fall I knew that I wanted to be in Ag retail so upon my completion of my course I accepted a position as a field man with an independent company called Beiseker Agri Services. After 12 years of being with this company and a name change to DynAgra Corp. along the way I have held many titles within the company from field agronomist to Corporate Sales Manager. My new title is Western Canadian Manager of Agronomy and my role is to manage and sell our Variable Rate Technology program as well as our FlexiScout scouting program.


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One Comment

Megan Oleksyn

I am glad that you specific your article to be about cereals only, as a hybrid canola being used the second year is a significantly different story, due to the nature of a hybrid. What do you tell growers whobin-run canola about the difference in yeild potential? ( besides the fact that it is illegal…)


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