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Brownseed Genetics enters retail seed market

BAY CITY--Five years ago, Charles Brown, president of Brownseed Genetics, sold the retail arm of his family business to focus on genetic research.

Today, that research has paid off with numerous new high-yielding hybrids proven in third-party trials, he said, and the company has launched CB Seed to offer these hybrids to farmers in the North Central United States.

"CB Seed represents decades of work," said Brown, referring to his family's 100-year history in the seed business. "We saw a tremendous opportunity for high-yielding, high-value hybrids and varieties, so we made the decision to once again sell through retail channels."

CB Seed will be sold primarily through distributors in Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas and Northern Iowa, because its seed products have been selected for traits performing best in northern growing conditions.

In addition, most hybrids offered by CB Seed will be conventional or single-trait--meaning they only have select traits for herbicide and insect resistance based on what farmers in the northern climates need.

Many CB Seed products have no bioengineered traits.

Costs for fertilizer, fuel and other inputs have become an increasing concern for farmers in recent years, officials noted. Seed prices also have risen dramatically for products with numerous bioengineered traits to levels more than twice that of conventional hybrids.

"Most seed products today contain numerous bioengineered traits, so farmers pay for features they just don't often need," Brown said.

"Third-party trials have shown that farmers don't have to sacrifice yield when they plant seed with fewer traits, but there aren't many options available for them. CB Seed gives farmers a choice."

With one of the only remaining breeding programs for conventional hybrids in the northern corn belt, Brown said his company has continued to advance seed germplasm by selecting for genetic improvements in performance and resulting yield for plants doing best in this climate. This includes hybrids with shorter time to maturity.

In addition, CB Seed has developed proprietary products commanding a premium price in the market. Some of these products include hybrids producing high oil or high protein grain.

CB Seed also will offer certified organic products and non-genetically modified organism labeled seed to be offered under the Purity

Plus brand.

The company's conventional and short-maturity hybrids did especially well in 2010 third-party research trials.

"In northern growing zones, we often took several of the top five slots for yield," Brown said.

Plot yields were as high as 263 bushels per acre for commercially available conventional hybrids from CB Seed, while an experimental hybrid yielded 269 bushels.

In Wisconsin state yield trials, CB Seed products yielded as much or more than those with stacked traits for grain and silage. One example was a 90-day hybrid that was the No. 1 yielding brand in a northern zone grain trial, where all other brands in the trial had at least three genetic traits.

For more information on trial results, visit