By Angela Rogalski
Seed, insecticide and herbicide reps are more than just people who stop by every now and then to sell farmers and retailers the latest seeds or other farming supplies. Actually, many go above and beyond their job descriptions by educating, opening up dialogues with their customers and even hitting the fields to test plots.
Lee Miers is territory manager for Corteva Agriscience, a company based out of Indianapolis, Indiana and his territory serves the northern part of the Mississippi Delta. Miers says that Corteva Agriscience has comprehensive, balanced and diverse seed, crop protection and digital service solutions that yield results. And it’s his mission to serve the customer by showing and educating them about these products.
“In the fall and early spring, we have retail meetings to discuss upcoming programs for the New Year and we also talk about product updates, the new items that will be launching that year. I partner with my retail reps to target specific growers who may be battling some resistance with a certain weed. For example, in rice they have resistant pigweed, we try to find new solutions with our new products.”
Miers says that for his area the premiere product is Resicore corn herbicide, which has three modes of action.
“It’s a really good product on all the broadleaf and grasses that we fight in the mid-south,” he adds. “It can be used preplant, preemergence or postemergence in field corn, field seed corn, and field silage corn fields.”
Miers says his customer service doesn’t stop at just educating the retailer on the best and latest products, he will also hit the farmer’s fields as often as he can.
“I’ll go out and visit the larger growers when possible and I do rely on the consultants, people who are making recommendations out on the acres. Many Delta farmers hire consultants to make recommendations and check their crops throughout the year, and I work with them as well, letting them know what we have to offer when they begin making those recommendations.”
Bruce West is south Mississippi sales representative for Americot, a cottonseed company based out of Lubbock, Texas. West says that their service to customers far exceeds simply selling products.
“We aid farmers in proper placement of our varieties for soil types, management, etc., to best maximize the yield potential of each variety. We have Demo plots and our ACE Plots (Advanced Cotton Education) that include current commercial offerings as well as new experimental lines. We monitor the cotton throughout the year to be able to offer advice from planting to harvest. We offer financing programs as well.”
West adds that Americot was established in 1987, and then in 2007 the NexGen brand was born, which is the company’s signature brand.
“And our top selling variety is NexGen 4936 B3XF for 2020,” he continues. “Excellent yields, excellent fiber qualities, as well as easy height management. We also have others varieties to offer in B3XF and B2XF. We have achieved the No. 2 status for the last three years for sales in the U. S. and have established a breeding program in Mississippi with the addition of Mike Robinson as our plant breeder. We also have two germ plasm specialists in Mississippi, Chase Sample and Brooks Blanche who conduct extensive testing and provide best management practices for us.”
Terral Seed is a company based out of Rayville, Louisiana and its district sales manager for the Mississippi Delta is Bert Mann. Mann’s customers are the retailers out there who sell to Delta farmers. And being a research and marketing seed company, he says that Terral was founded on the principle of bringing hybrids and varieties that are adapted for the unique southern soils and climates to Delta retailers so they can pass that expertise on to their consumers.
“We are the retail lead of the south for seed,” Mann says. “Our bestselling seed is corn and soybeans and the brand is REV. And it’s a brand that is bred for the south. So when I go into retailers, and I only deal with the big four: Helena Chemical, GreenPoint, Pinnacle, and Nutrien, but when I present our product to these companies, I always show them our latest items along with the tried and true. And I go over every aspect of the products with them. We love working with the people who are taking care of our area farmers to be sure they have what they need for success.”
Glenn Kernodle is a chemical rep for Gowan Company based in Yuma, Arizona, serving Mississippi Delta retailers. Kernodle says that it’s his company’s mission to help growers solve their critical pest and plant health issues.
“We provide answers to difficult questions about controlling weeds,” he says. “And our bestselling herbicide for rice and corn to do that is Permit Plus. Permit Plus not only kills sedges, it’s also very effective on many broadleaf weeds. We also have a new product that we’re excited to let farmers know about called Gambit, which also kills sedge, but has a residual aspect for broadleaf that kills more varieties.”
Kernodle offers advice and anything his customers need to know about chemicals and how they help control weeds, and during the growing season finds himself available almost around the clock.
“And that’s not only from retailers with questions, but crop dusting pilots as well who may have any questions about chemicals,” he says.
Billy Herbison sells seed for Great Heart Seed Company based in Paris, Ill., but has his own company, DelStar Inc., in Cleveland, which he co-owns with his business partner, Bo Bowlin. Herbison enjoys working with Great Heart Seed because of the close relationship the company cultivates with its customers, putting each one’s specific needs at the top of its list.
“What I like about Great Heart Seed is it’s a smaller company and we really fine tune our varieties to meet the needs of our Delta farmers depending on what kind of ground they have,” Herbison says. “Being a smaller company, we don’t have to have one bean that might get 40,000 acres; we can have one bean that covers 4,500 acres on a variety of different farmers, so we can really fine tune what variety works best in their soil. And that’s one of the benefits with going with a smaller company like us over the big guys.”
Herbison adds that they go out to the farm and actually put their hands in the dirt to see what exactly they’re dealing with.
“Then we make recommendations on varieties from there,” he says. “We sell soybeans and corn seed, with soybean being our biggest seller. As far as specifics, the number one seller in the company is a GT4540XS soybean seed. It has actually won the Mississippi State trials three out of the past five years. It just seems to be more consistent all the way across the field, from one end to the other. That’s the feedback we get, that this is the most consistent yielding bean that they have on their farm. And it’s always one of their top producers.”
And Herbison says they also go and do test plots on farmers’ land.
“We’ll also go out while harvest is going on and bring a weigh wagon to weigh the seed and try and determine which variety works best on a particular farm through farmer’s field trials. We’ll go out during planting time and make sure their planters are set correctly and make sure all the beans are good. We also deliver their seed; we’ll store it in our warehouse and deliver it when they need it. We’re a full service seed dealer.”