If you want to know more about the genetics of the seed you’re planting, here’s your opportunity. Charles Baron, co-founder of Farmers Business Network Inc., says the F2F Genetics Network, launched recently, will bring farmers who buy seed closer to plant breeders who develop hybrids and varieties.
As a result, farmers will have more knowledge about the genetics behind the seed they’re planting, and can play a role in determining what type of hybrids and varieties are developed in the future.
“We’re offering five conventional corn hybrids and four glyphosate-tolerant soybean varieties for next year,” Baron says. “We hope to increase the number of offerings quickly in the future.
“We decided to create a line of seed to give farmer-members of Farmers Business Network Inc. more value and more say in the seed they have in the future.”
Ron Wulfkuhle is head of seed for FBN. He was formerly CEO of GreenLeaf Genetics, a germplasm supplier. Wulfkuhle says there are four main points that make FBN’s new launch different from any existing seed company.
“We’re radically transparent about genetic identity of the seed we’re offering,” he says. “Farmers can see parental lineage for each hybrid or variety, plus trial and yield performance information.
“Second, farmers who plant these hybrids and varieties will be able to see how they perform on other farms. We will be as transparent as possible in everything we do.”
Wulfkuhle says the third thing that makes F2F unique is that farmers will be able to keep and replant soybean seed. That’s possible because the glyphosate-tolerant, Roundup 1 varieties being offered are off-patent. F2F agreements with soybean breeders providing germplasm will allow farmers to replant seed one time for a fee.
“We’ll have a contract with farmer-members who want to do this,” Baron says. “We expect them to handle it as seed to preserve quality, and will expect them to run germination tests to make sure germination is adequate.” F2F calls it the Soy +1 program.
The fourth unique factor is direct sales and shipment of seed to member-customers, Wulfkuhle explains. As a result, they’ll be able to offer seed products at dramatically lower prices compared to the rest of the industry, he says.
What makes this unique approach possible is that there are still corn breeders and other plant breeding programs in the country that aren’t aligned with any company. Baron notes there are only about 30 independent corn breeders in the U.S. Some are private, and some are at universities.
“It can be very difficult for them to get their products to market,” Baron says. “We’re giving them that opportunity. In exchange, we’ll share results of how their products do on member farms. It gives them a chance to see how their genetics perform in more environments. It will also give farmers and these plant breeders a chance to guide development of new products.”
For 2019, the five conventional, non-GMO corn hybrids available range in maturity from 102 to 112 days. Price for seed corn will be $99 per bag.
The four glyphosate-tolerant, off-patent soybean varieties range in maturity from Group 2.2 to Group 3.1. The target is midlatitudes, from Ohio west to Nebraska.
Yearly FBN membership is $700. Learn more at farmersbusinessnetwork.com.