Spring 2021 Outlook
It’s hard to believe that spring of 2021 is nearly here. Within a few weeks, we will be frost seeding, and even starting to think about getting the drills out! As spring nears, it is important to have a solid plan in place to make sure that you can access the seed you want for your acres.
The fall of 2020 was one of the best opportunities to do field work after harvest that we have had in several years. Many new waterways and dry dams were shaped, tiling crews were able to accomplish a ton, and a lot of brush was cleared. Many folks are set up to need seed for large projects this spring, so we expect demand to be high if mother nature cooperates!
Supply Challenges: Brome, Fescue, etc…
Due to the anticipated high demand and a few production challenges from 2020, we have a few products that will likely be very tight in supply. The great plains had a grass seed harvest that was well below expectations. The species that are most severely impacted include brome (both smooth and meadow), meadow fescue, and millet. The price of brome is currently up over 90% currently from last year (we had previously secured some at a better price point), and continues to rise. As brome becomes unavailable, other species are likely to be impacted including tall fescues, orchardgrass, and perennial ryegrass. Premium named varieties are more likely to be impacted or sold out than their common counterparts.
On the turf side, most species are already limited in supply until new crop becomes available, especially higher quality and branded products. We have enough supply on hand to cover our expected needs, but certain options may be limited late in spring before new crop seed is available in August.
For summer annuals, we are expecting fewer challenges this year than in the past few years. We anticipate good supply on sorghums, sudans and teff grass. The millets are in better shape than the past 3 years, but there is a chance that pearl or Japanese will become harder to find late in season, or the price may rise.
Grain supply for spring is in good shape! Quality and yield last fall were very good! However, due to the rapid rise in corn and soybean prices, it is very likely that some acres in Great Plains states will switch away from grain in 2021 to grow a higher priced crop. This will not have an impact on the spring season, but is likely to have a large impact on fall availability and price of oats, wheat and cereal rye. We are starting to take truckload booking for cereal rye, so let us know if you are interested in securing some.
A few products that are unique and should be considered are listed below:
Frosty Berseem Clover - This non-bloating, annual legume is tolerant of temperatures down to 5°F. It is a great addition to new alfalfa stands to increase first year tonnage. It can also be frost seeded into thinning stands to extend production for an additional season.
Freedom MR! Clover – this mildew resistant red clover is a great option for hay producers. Freedom! Has finer stems and less hair than traditional red clover to help it dry down faster, improving hay quality.
Waterway Mix – this proprietary mix contains endophyte-free fescue, perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass and timothy. It is designed to be very versatile and works well for pasture, waterways or ditches.
In summary, go ahead and start thinking about what your spring needs are and making a plan with your dealer to have seed on hand. Most seed will still be good the following season (or even year) if it is kept cool and dry. As we move into 2021, we are likely to see more product shortages and price swings than we have seen for a few years in the small seed industry, and those who plan ahead will undoubtedly save money and have the products that they want!