If your seed rep that you bought corn from this year hasn't been at your farm yet, expect him or her soon. And he likely will be as interested in booking your order for next season as he or she will at looking at this year's crop.
It's a major shift from the days when you harvested, checked test plot results, then began ordering corn. The move has been happening over time, but reports from industry insiders say visits are already underway and cash is changing hands- for 2012 crop, and it's only early August. In some cases, the selling and booking apparently began in July.
Why the early shift? In some ways, it's a game of 'follow the leader.' Some companies have successfully booked sales early through field days and with promotions for the past several seasons. Other companies, not wanting to be left out, are now telling their salesmen to go out and sell for 2012, even though the outcome of the 2011 crop is still very much in doubt, let alone anyone having any idea how one hybrid may stack up to another.
As the buyer, you may have an opportunity to cash in on some sweet discounts. Add up volume discounts and early pay discounts this far out, and you may be able to cut a good chunk out of your seed bill for 2012, assuming you have the cash or line of credit to make the purchase now. If you're using credit, do some careful calculation to see if it makes more sense to pay interest compared to the discount you can get for buying and paying now.
Obviously, you'll be making booking decisions without knowledge of how this year's hybrids performed if you book now. Some companies may allow you to switch hybrids and varieties later based on availability, some may not. Be sure you understand how your company is handling that situation, especially if you're paying cash down now.
There's also the hot hybrid syndrome. The very best numbers just coming out are often in short demand. Your particular sales rep may only get a limited quantity. If you want to check out that hybrid or if you checked it out this year and like how it looks so far, you may have to order early in order to make sure you get some of that particular hybrid for your farm next year.This could be a 'snooze and you lose' season, especially if you're after hot numbers. With all this said, companies will sell seed well into next spring. It's just that most of them hope to have the majority of their business, especially loyal customers, locked down long before that. Likely some of you are locked in already.