The explosion in corn hybrid trait packages has brought a significant change for the entire seed corn production system. “In 1992, we grew eight different hybrids,” Francque says. “Today we are growing 52 different hybrids. That means more time management, labor and increased risk.”

Producers benefit from the increased options of what they can plant, but ensuring that enough of a certain hybrid is grown to meet an ever-changing market demand can wreak havoc on the best of plans.

“We have ample risk management built into sales,” Case says. “And we make sure we have the right capacities in place through the whole process, from the field level all the way through bringing the crop into the plant, packaging and distribution.”

Planning more than a year out for a product that may or may not be in high demand is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of seed corn production. “We work closely with our field sales professionals to determine what products may ultimately be demanded and in what trait packages,” Case says. “Making a forecast more than a year before the actual seed is purchased is certainly a challenge.”

The planning process is a year-round operation and starts well before seed corn is even planted. Companies must secure the parent inbred seed lines well in advance, with specific traits and genetics. “We’re not only looking out the next six to 12 months, we look out five years and beyond to ensure there’s enough parent seed in place, assets are in place to produce the seed, and we have the ability to deliver the product,” Case says.