Farmers Business Network (FBN) is blowin’ the seed industry’s cover with their recent Seed Relabeling Report.
The problem: While FBN stays neutral on relabeling, they say their report provides transparency into a practice typically shrouded in secrecy. The relabeling concern is twofold: overpaying for the same seed from different brands, and lack of genetic diversity despite attempting to reduce agronomic risk by purchasing from multiple brands.
By the numbers: The fourth annual report has grown from 8,000 seed tags in 2017 to 35,000 seed tags this year, which contributed to the following findings:
- 49% of corn and 57% of soybean seed products are relabeled
- 6% of farmers who submitted tags bought the same variety from multiple brands
- 73% of FBN members bought relabeled seed products
And new traits and companies are not immune. Qrome, Enlist E3, and LLGT27 traits, as well as a very high percentage (75%+) of Zinesto, Brevant, and Apex seeds were relabeled.
It’s a pervasive problem, bigger than farmers may think. Only 31% of FBN farmer members believe they plant relabeled seed—but based on the data from the report, the actual number is closer to 73%.
A soundbite: “The practice of seed relabeling means that farmers may pay vastly different prices for the same seed and is a good example of the lack of transparency in agriculture that Farmers Business Network is working to change,” says FBN CEO and Co-Founder, Amol Deshpande.
As if producers were looking to fight yet another challenge this growing season… a battle-tested pest has arrived.
Fall armyworm moths hopped on a cold jet stream and rode out of the South, landing in northern states like Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio, and leaving a path of destruction behind them.
The worm: Fall armyworms are a subtropical pest, usually hangin’ out in southern states and overwintering where there’s little hard freezing. The worm is actually a caterpillar that grows in stages, reaching maturity as a moth that can lay up to 100 eggs in a single mass.
They can eat over 300 different types of plants, though northern growers are seeing pests primarily in forage fields, eating everything except the weeds.
The insects are difficult to scout, hanging on to plants at odd angles and spooking easily, dropping to the ground. And only certain insecticides kill them in early and late phases—not counting common insecticide resistance.
The destruction: Growers are reporting entire fields of alfalfa eaten clean off in a matter of days—or even hours. One grower estimated destruction to an alfalfa field totaled a loss of $6,000, as nothing but sticks were left behind. Northern growers’ armyworm learning curve and lack of insecticide availability are exacerbating the issue.
Where this goes: Cold fall weather and the eventual coming of a northern winter should kill them off. There is some risk that another egg-laying cycle, producing additional hungry larvae, will occur in September. But with any luck, they’ll stay where they belong next year.