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The Seed Supply Chain

The Seed World is smaller than you think.To many people, what seed is to them is the bag they grab off the shelf at their current seed supplier. For me, I’ve been a involved in seed industry for about 25 years at both the distributor level and retail level. What many aren’t aware of is how the process works. Here is a little overview on the process.

Most of the seed sold in the US moves from west to east. Much of the US seed production for legumes, grasses and brassicas is grown in Oregon and Washington and other western states. The people who grow the seed are primary production or growers. After they grow the seed, the seed gets conditioned. Cleaning and bagging is sometimes done by the grower themselves but there is also a number of specialty cleaners out there. Once seed is conditioned, it either is bagged and ready to be sold.

At that point, seed might be sold by seed brokers, sold to larger scale distributors or sold at a larger selling event that occurs each year in Kansas City. A larger percentage of seed each year goes to the “coaters.” Seed coaters will add inoculants and other clay type agents to seed before it enters the seed network.

So, there are larger seed distributors in the industry and numerous smaller seed distributors. Much of the alfalfa and brassicas are sold by a handful of larger distributors and the seed is then shipped to the next level. Once it hits the floor of the smaller distributors, it typically goes to the smaller seed companies and larger wildlife type seed companies. From there it is either sold retail or rebagged or custom mixed and sold to the smaller scale wildlife companies.

The seed world is smaller than most think. There is a handful of major alfalfa growers in the US. A handful of clover and brassica growers in the US. Most of the brassicas come from overseas and one company is the major cog for the imports of brassicas. There is only a handful of major players in the brassica world. One thing I bring up at seminars is how there could be 40 different radish brands out in the market place but most of it comes from a handful of growers in one region. The genetics is basically the same as shown by University of Minnesota and University of Michigan trials. Don’t get fooled by fancy bags and names. It all comes down to germination counts, weed counts and overall seed quality. Genetics varies way less than you think. Yes, there are some genetics that is way better than others but the differences is smaller than you think.

Grandpa Ray Outdoors is a wildlife company that is part of O’Brion Agri Services that also has a smaller scale seed distribution business in ISG. ISG distributes to the independent feed mills, agronomy centers and farm stores.So, why does Grandpa Ray Outdoors put our seed mixes in clear bags? So, people can see quality. You know what your getting before you open the bag.

In summary, here is the seed chain. Grandpa Ray Outdoors because of it’s buying power and relationships would put us in like with the smaller distributors.

Primary production

Seed cleaners/conditioners


Seed brokers and larger distributors

Smaller distributors

Smaller seed companies/retailers

End Users

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