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Growers likely to sit tight in upcoming crop year

About 300 growers participating in the Dairyland Seed GENI conference recently offered views on planting intentions for 2009 and their perceptions of the ag economy. This group represents a strong cross section of corn, soybean and alfalfa producers throughout the Midwest. The growers participate in on-farm strip-trial plots whereby Dairyland scientists evaluate the performance of new experimental genetics across various environments. As a result, Dairyland scientists are able to measure the "GENI" (Genotypic ENvironmental Interaction) for each set of Dairyland alfalfa, soybean and corn experimentals.

Just over two-thirds of the group polled say the ag economy will be worse off in 2009 than last year; not surprising after the industry experienced a significant depression in cash and futures markets at the end of 2008. With this in mind, 87 percent said that their operations will stay "about the same" in 2009 compared to last year. A down economy not withstanding, 63 percent say farm sales will not be affected by the current economic situation, while 28 percent expect a moderate decrease in farm sales.

With regard to specific crops, it appears that more acres will go into soybeans in 2009 than last year. Eighty percent of the GENI participants said corn acreage will stay the same, while just over half will keep the same amount of soybean acres. Just over 34 percent will increase soybean acres. Two thirds of alfalfa growers will keep the same acreage, with just under 20 percent increasing acreage.

Twice as many corn growers (30 percent versus 15 percent) will expand rather than decrease acreage devoted to GMO corn in 2009. Conversely, more soybean growers (21 percent) will decrease acreage for GMO soybeans than will increase (14 percent). With regard to hybrid alfalfa, 23 percent grew more hybrid alfalfa in 2008 than 2007, and 21 percent expect to continue the trend by planting more acres to hybrid alfalfa in 2009 than they did last year.

"This data really gives us a great snapshot on planting intentions in 2009 from key growers in the Midwest," said Tom Strachota, Dairyland Seed general manager. "The growers surveyed here represent more than 50,000 acres of cropland, so obviously they represent a significant group of business."

This is the first year of the GENI grower survey. Subsequent surveys will begin to identify planting trends and intentions for growers in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest. For more specific information regarding survey results, contact Kim Gellings at Dairyland Seed Company.