OLIVIA, Minn. — The brand name Brevant stems from the Corteva Agriscience world of Pioneer and their affiliated seed brands. Brevant’s new area business manager for this part of Minnesota is a seed corn guy I’ve known a batch of years — Brad Pietig.
Pietig is an Olivia, Minn. native whose dad, Gene, used to work for Trojan Seed way back when even I worked for Trojan. We’re talking early 1970s … so far back even single cross hybrids were still in the early trendy stage!
Brad Pietig got some ‘Trojan dust’ into his working genes too. “I grew up out there when my Dad ran the farming operation for the Rauenhorst family, founders of Trojan Seed Company. So that’s how I got my farming break-in and interest in agriculture.”
So in view of the several consolidations reshaping the seed corn industry in recent years, how many different seed companies has Brad Pietig represented since he started toiling the country roads and highways across the corn belt? Only one! And he’s always enjoyed the pleasure of Olivia, his original and only home.
“I started in 1997, the first year of Mycogen Seeds,” recalled Pietig. “So until the introduction of Brevant Seeds, my only gig for these 23 years has been with Mycogen.” (Brevant will be replacing Mycogen Seeds as Corteva’s primary U.S. retail-focused brand.)
“The Brevant brand is a leader in other countries around the world,” Pietig continued. “The Brevant names establishes our brand as the one for ag retail in the U.S. But it’s been a huge change — not only name but also how we approach the market. It is truly a total change with the launch of this new brand. The other Corteva Agriscience seed brands in the U.S. are Pioneer and regional brands Dairyland, NuTech and Seed Consultants.”
I asked Pietig if GMOs and organic seeds will take over the seed market, or will conventional seed still be offered?
“We sell conventional products,” he said, “however, demand for our traited products — including those with Qrome corn technology — is much higher. I think nationally, the traited seed market is very high. Even this year I’m understanding conventional corn acres are down a little in America … to around only 2 to 3 percent of the market.
“Corteva Agriscience is the only major U.S. agriscience company completely dedicated to agriculture. We are a corn breeding company. We’re also into trait development work. A Brevant handout reads,. ‘The brand — in a bold nutshell. We’re not here to be new. We’re here to bring new.’ So Brevant is indeed a bold, high-performance corn and soybean brand providing industry-leading seed and service exclusively to retail.”
So in view of the economic crunch still squeezing hard on farmers, are seed costs getting to be more of an issue? Pietig doesn’t hesitate. “Yes, seed costs are an issue these days. But when you get to most farm gates, if the product performance is there, price really doesn’t play into it that much. Most farmers are still going the route of high inputs and high returns.”
FarmFest got cancelled out this year. How important are major farm shows in your marketing moxie?
“Even though we attend fewer farm shows than what we did several years ago, we enjoy meeting with our retailers and their customers. I like conversations with farmers. We’re always learning — even if we aren’t agreeing. There’s something unique about farm talk! We enjoy ‘talking’ on social media. With Brevant you’ll be seeing lots of YouTube, Facebook, Twittter exposure. Yes, I’m still a bit old school, but I recognize that a changing farm audience out there too — especially the younger people.”
Pietig, like many seeds people, thrives on local show plot events. In fact, he has his own corn plot just a half-mile south of his house on U.S. Highway 71. “Last year we had an Enlist demonstration plot and again this year. Our genetic lineup has totally changed the last two years. This new book of genetics is game-changing stuff. We’ve got a new Qrome-corn product that looks tremendous too.”
Corn dealers are seeing quite a bit of unused seed bags from North Dakota this year, so bottom lines of many seed companies are getting hurt. “But overall we’ve got great crops coming on across America — with some farmers still sitting on corn from last year,” Pietig stated. “Most will have a good year. Seems to me when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s our farmers today too!”