While most corn growers are thinking about the 2012 crop, seed companies are now determining just how much corn seed to produce for the 2013 season, and beyond.

It’s a complicated balancing act that uses current sales, product demand, trait choice, customer feedback and sales force projections, among other factors, to determine which corn hybrids to plant, and in what quantities, to meet demand that at the time is probably the farthest thing from their customers’ minds.

“Most of the challenges to the seed production process are the same challenges that producers face…wet soils delaying optimal planting times, early freezes, drought, to name a few,” says Tom Bockhaus, Pioneer director, supply planning and logistics. But added to the issues of producing the seed are the challenges of ensuring that sufficient amounts of the right hybrids are produced and delivered to the end user.

With only one shot to get producers enough seed, especially the hot new hybrids on the market, seed companies have increased their reliance on South American production. “While some products can be produced in North America, many new items are grown for the first time in South America, relying on new inbred seed which is increased in North America, harvested as soon as possible, and then flown to South America for planting,” says Tom Strachota, general manager for Dairyland Seed. “If there is a delay in the North American parent seed harvest or South American planting, things get quite delicate.”