Seed sales provide diversification

by Kyle Kuphal

With each new year, come new seed products with traits to meet producers’ needs.

Trent Johnson, owner of Prairie Winds Seeds in northwestern Murray County, said one new product released by Bayer this year is the V4P, which targets pests such as corn rootworm. He said corn rootworm is a common problem, especially when planting corn on corn.

“A corn on corn situation where guys are corn on corn a lot, they’re gearing up to deal with disease pressure like that — beetle pressure or corn rootworm,” Johnson said.

Johnson sells Beck’s seed and said the company’s products are constantly changing and evolving based on new issues.

“They’re constantly trying to stay industry leading in new traits, new products, new treatments to deal with environmental and disease issues,” he said.

Among the traits available in hybrid seed is one that seems particularly relevant due to the drier than usual weather in recent years — drought tolerance.

“Those have definitely shined over the last three years,” Johnson said.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of Feb. 6, most of southwest Minnesota remained abnormally dry or was experiencing moderate drought conditions. Johnson said producers remain focused on yields, however, and they’re selecting seed designed to maximize yields, along with some drought tolerance.

“Drought is a concern, but there’s always the hope for moisture, so I think that’s kind of taking the lead,” Johnson said.

He, like many, is hoping that this year brings more moisture. If the old adage about precipitation 90 days after fog holds true, he said, they could get their wish this spring.

Whether it’s the weather, pests or something else, when it comes to farming, Johnson said, every season presents a new challenge.

“I think that’s why, as farmers, we’re just always gearing up for a challenge,” he said. “There’s always something new. There’s always something that happens in that time frame that you need to get your work done.”

Johnson knows that well through personal experience. Between him, his dad, Rick, and his brother, Jonah, they have a cow/calf operation, raise hogs, and grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa. He added seed sales to that mix in March of 2022 when he started Prairie Winds Seeds. He’d also been involved in precision planting before entering the seed business.

“I enjoyed that, but knew I wanted to be more at home, on farm, be more involved in my own operation,” he said.

Johnson said he’d thought about selling seed before, but hadn’t found the right company. Then a former colleague approached him, who worked with Beck’s, and said he thought Johnson would make a good seed dealer. Johnson looked into it and decided it was the right decision and the right company.

“They’re a good company,” he said. “They stand behind their products, stand behind their dealers, stand behind their customers.”

He said that kind of support and a desire to help farmers succeed is important.

“Farmers want to feel like somebody cares about us and appreciates what we’re doing for the world, for the community,” Johnson said. “A company that backs something like that is huge, to me.”

Johnson sells corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and cover crops including cereal rye, turnips and radishes. His customers are in southwest Minnesota and into southeast South Dakota.

Johnson’s wife, Nichole, does photography and works part-time for Visit Marshall. The couple has three children, ages 2 months to 5 years.

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