Is Non-GMO a good option for my farm?

SEED SELECTION:

Could Non-GMO offer you (and your tenant) a greater profit per acre?Non-GMO

The 2018 harvest season is just getting started across the country and things are about to get busy. The planting season, of course, dictates the ultimate outcome of this harvest, with seed selection playing a crucial role. Seed selection is an interesting process for landowners and not everyone has the same approach.

Some landowners prefer to have a hands-on role when it comes to selecting seed while other landowners prefer to leave seed selection up to the sole discretion of the tenant. No matter your approach, a better understanding of your options when it comes to seed could mean all the difference in finding additional income per acre.

Are Traits Necessary?

In 2018, a majority of corn and soybean acres were planted using seeds with traits. However, more and more growers are seeking sustainable ag practices for their land. And, with growing consumer demand for Non-GMO-sourced food, more growers are shifting their acres to Non-GMO. Could this be an option for you and your land? To learn more, we spoke to Josh Richey, CEO of Spectrum Non-GMO, an independent company specializing in Non-GMO seed corn.

“While I work for a Non-GMO seed company, first and foremost, I am a farmer looking for opportunities to improve my profit per acre,” says Richey, a third-generation grower from Clinton County, Indiana. Richey’s approach to seed selection for all of his ground (owned and rented) begins with understanding the environment.

“Every field is different and as a result, selecting seed should be done on a case-by-case basis. With that said, not every field requires traits. In my experience, growers often plant traits to fend off unrealized insect pressure. They’re paying a higher per-unit cost for traits that may not be needed.”

The Non-GMO Switch

Richey speaks from personal experience. After several years of planting corn with traits, Richey began to realize insect pressure on his farm was minimal. Could he switch to Non-GMO corn seed without compromising his per acre profit?

In 2017, Richey did just that, converting acres once planted to traits to Non-GMO exclusively. “You may find this surprising but my strategy for 2017 wasn’t vastly different from 2016. In fact, my chemical program was the same with one exception: I dropped Glyphosate and added a generic Atrazine,” reports Richey.

In 2016, Richey’s per acre seed cost was $140.43. That dropped to $63.83 in 2017. His fertilizer costs stayed the same as did his herbicide and fungicide costs. “This switch was well worth any perceived risk as my gross margin increased by nearly 20%–an extra $77 profit per acre,” shared Richey.

Understanding Your Options

Richey understands landowners and tenants alike may be fearful of making the switch but encourages you to consider the options. “I’ve been farming for over ten years and I once thought traits were the only solution to making more profit per acre, but I’ve since learned I was using traits when I didn’t really need to be using them,” says Richey.
Whether you play an active role in seed selection or not, it’s important as a landowner to understand your options. If you’re looking to find more profit per acre, consider discussing seed selection strategies for 2019 now during the off-season. “Tenants may look to order seed as early as August,” says Richey. “Exploring options now gives you time to work out the math to see if a switch to Non-GMO seed makes good financial sense.”

About the Author:
Tiffany Frash is the Sales & Marketing Director for Spectrum Premium Non-GMO Seed Corn. She grew up on a small farm in central Indiana and has been working in ag marketing for 10 years.

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