SCOTT, Miss. – The new seed-count packaging introduced by Delta and Pine Land Co. this year has simplified seed-ordering calculations and put more efficiencies into inventory and input-cost management, say seed distributors and dealers and cotton producers.

D&PL sold upland cotton varieties for the first time this year in bags that contained a minimum of 250,000 seeds and Boll Boxes that contained a minimum of 8 million seeds. The packaging switch was a logical next move, according to Ben Bailey, general manager of Jimmy Sanders, Inc., based in Cleveland, Miss.

“So many of our producers have gotten away from planting pounds of seed per acre, and have begun to plant seeds per row-foot with new, precision-type planters,” he says. “Seed-count packaging fits right into that practice.”

Knowing that there are 250,000 seeds per bag makes it easier to figure how many bags are needed to plant a desired number of acres, helping producers manage input costs more efficiently.

“Initially, there was some confusion because everyone was used to dealing in 50-pound bags,” says Terry Boone, a cotton producer and independent seed dealer in Jackson, N.C.

Farmers knew that it took them so many 50-pound bags to cover a certain amount of acres. Many producers doing business with Boone’s Farm Supply have already switched from planting pounds of seed per acre to planting seeds per foot of row. Dealing in seed-count bags allowed them to become more accurate in figuring out the number of units needed to plant the acres they had to plant, says Boone.

“I had one producer come in and tell me that he loved seed-count packaging,” he says. “He was right on the money in figuring out the number of bags he needed and he had no bags to return. We also had a few farmers get confused and wind up having more units to return. It’s going to be a slight adjustment, but in the long run, it’s going to be good for the industry.”

The new D&PL seed-count packaging has eliminated questions raised by producers in Georgia about bags of the same variety containing different number of seeds, resulting in differences in cost of seed per acre. Joe Dixon, owner of Dixon Seed and Chemical in Alapaha, Ga., says with seed-count packaging this year, he has had no complaints.

“Once everyone got used to the fact that every bag contained 250,000 seeds, they felt like they were getting a fair deal – that everyone was paying the same amount for seed,” says Dixon.

The new D&PL seed-count bags helped Brad Hill of Tulia, Texas understand exactly what he was getting for his money. Hill, who farms 1,200 acres of cotton, says with the old 50-pound bags, he’d check each bag for the seed-count per pound and use his calculator to figure the cost of seed and the number of bags needed to plant his acres. With seed-count bags, all that has become easier.

“I know exactly what I’m getting for my money, now,” says Hill. “I know the same amount of money will buy me 250,000 seeds of one variety.”

Before D&PL introduced seed-count packaging, bags contained a seed-count per pound, which could vary from bag to bag. Hill dumps one bag of seed in each of the hopper boxes on his planter. If each bag contains a different seed count, he gets a different seeding rate in each row.

“There was no way of getting around that for me with my planter until seed-count packaging came along,” he says. “Planting different seeding rates in each row can be costly. Now, I know that when a hopper box is empty, I have planted 250,000 seeds.”

The new D&PL seed-count bags make ordering his seed easier.

“There is no longer any guesswork in figuring out how many bags I need to plant a certain amount of acres,” he says. “I don’t have to look at each bag’s seed count and use my calculator to figure all that up. With seed-count packaging, I know that I need a certain amount of bags to plant a certain number of acres based on my desired seeding rate. I much prefer seed-count packaging over the old way.”

From a seed distributor standpoint, says Buddy Vandevender, who manages the Hollandale, Miss.-location of Jimmy Sanders, Inc., seed-count packaging means better inventory control.

“Ordering the right amount of inventory to cover an area is easier with the new packaging,” he says.

With the old 50-pound bags that contained a range of seeds per pound, a general way to factor the number of bags needed to plant a desired number of acres was to multiply 10 pounds per acre. It was not an exact science, sometimes leaving a producer or distributor with more seed than they needed.

“After the first year of handling the new D&PL seed-count packaging, we have fewer bags left over in inventory at the end of the planting season,” says Vandevender. “We’ve been able to manage our inventory better.”

To generate seed-count packaging, D&PL developed and implemented an entirely new process of handling and packaging seed that offers customers better flexibility on orders and timely delivery of finished goods. Specially-designed, patented high-tech equipment was built for the D&PL packaging plants allowing the company to package in seed-count units.

Due to the various sizes and densities of seed varieties, D&PL seed-count bags can range in weight, going below or above the traditional 50-pound weight limit the industry had become so accustomed to.

“We had no problems reported with the range of weights and sizes of the bags,” says Freddie Miller, southern seeds manager for Land O’ Lakes Seed in Memphis, Tenn. “This biggest thing we found was the learning curve of figuring the number of units needed to cover X-amount of acres. Everyone was used to the old way, but once they understood the new equation using seed-count units, I think it became easier.”

In the past, lots of seed had different seed counts, making it more difficult to figure out how many bags were needed. Now, says Miller, it’s easier because every bag contains 250,000 seeds and every Boll Box contains 8 million seeds.

“This is where we should be” he says. “This is best for the industry. Seed-count packaging has certainly put more efficiency in inventory management for the distributors and seed dealers.”

The new D&PL seed-count packaging has also shed more light on the cost of seed and everything associated with it, including technology fees and chemical treatments. Seed-count pricing makes price breakdown on seeds more apparent and easier to figure out, says Boone. This allows the producer to better manage his input costs and make better business decisions.

“The producer can better compare cost of varieties now, and he knows what it is costing him right down to the single seed,” he says. “Allowing the farmer to better manage his input costs is the biggest advantage to seed-count packaging. Seed is a big front-end investment for the farmer, so knowing the cost breakdown better enables him to make more educated decisions.”

Going forward, seed-count packaging is preferred over the old 50-pound bags of seeds that contained a range of seed counts.

“I wish the whole industry was doing this,” Boone says. “There are many advantages to this for everyone – seed distributors and dealers, as well as producers.”

Delta and Pine Land Company is a commercial breeder, producer and marketer of cotton planting seed, as well as soybean seed, in the Cotton Belt. For more information, click on www.deltaandpine.com.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com