In real estate, location is widely considered the most important factor in determining the value of a given property. This is also true for seed production. When choosing a seed production partner, the ability to place seed production in the precise area that maximizes yield potential, limits risk and produces the best quality seed should be a main consideration. Having a partner that accesses several diverse production areas offers the best combination of a consistent relationship and location flexibility, ensuring that each individual hybrid or variety is produced exactly where it should be.
In seed corn production, this is especially true as several key location-based factors influence quality and yield potential.
For example, male inbred lines that have limited pollen potential are best suited for environments where temperatures are more moderate, such as the Great Lakes area of southern Michigan and northern Indiana. Here, the cooler waters of Lake Michigan help keep the temperatures more moderate and help to maximize pollen duration and quantity.
Seed size can also be impacted by location. Sandier soils help limit test weight accumulation and are preferred for female inbred lines that tend to be larger seeded. Conversely, heavier soils with higher fertility are preferred for smaller seeded female inbred lines, as these soils tend to encourage higher test weights.
For female inbred lines in the mid- to later-maturity range with high end yield potential, a central Corn Belt location offers the best opportunity to maximize yields and improve the cost of goods.
When considering risk factors, early frost potential should be top of mind. In general, the farther west and north a seed production location is, the more at risk it is for an early frost, which can severely impact germination potential. In fact, seed hybrids as early as 70-day maturity can be produced in southern Wisconsin or southern Michigan with much less frost risk than those on the northern or western edges of the Corn Belt.
Another risk factor to consider is severe weather potential. Generally speaking, the farther west in the Corn Belt seed production is conducted, the higher the risk of hail, high winds or excessive rain which can damage both yield potential and seed quality. Producing seed in the central or eastern Corn Belt offers some measure of protection from severe weather, while still maximizing yield potential and quality.
While there isn’t just one factor to consider when placing seed corn production, and no location completely eliminates risk, choosing a partner that has the ability to place production in the best location possible can reduce risk potential while helping ensure a consistent supply of high quality seed.