Research and Development



Cornelius Seed uses research advantages to outperform other companies. Corn growers throughout the Midwest often wonder how smaller, geographically concentrated seed companies can compete so well on corn growers' farms with seed companies hundreds of times their size and with international reach. In fact, very often, large international firms have difficulty outperforming the hybrids of regional firms.

Actually, that's not surprising. There are a number of competitive benefits available to regional seed companies such as Cornelius Seed that international conglomerates don't have.

Photo of bag on cornThe Cornelius Seed research program takes strategic advantage of five of these benefits.

The first is that there is no difference in the global availability of the germplasm base from which all seed companies develop inbreds and hybrids. There are few regional seed companies that can match the Cornelius Seed effort with its product development program. It encompasses a global search for germplasm that has contributed to successful inbred development.

Those inbreds are crossed and tested across hundreds of other inbreds. The results are closely observed for such desirable traits as yield, drydown, vigor and germination, disease and insect resistance, standability, ear retention, test weight, stalk strength and root systems.

Using these traits as building blocks, high-performance hybrids are then developed and tested across the Cornelius Seed marketing area. After several years of test results are carefully scrutinized, the hybrids are either cancelled out of the program or made available for introduction into the marketplace.

This global reach is no different than the international companies, which is the first reason regional companies can yield with, or even better than, international companies. They simply start with the same germplasm pool. However, after that, what seed companies do with this germplasm begins to vary substantially. That brings us to the second reason Cornelius Seed frequently outperforms international firms.

The larger firms are selecting for geographically broad-based performance. For example, it only makes sense that a large, international seed company attempt to develop a hybrid that works well from Nebraska to Ohio, and equally well in Italy's Po Valley. Cornelius focuses on a specific marketing area Iowa, the southwest corner of Wisconsin and northern Illinois. This concentration allows specific performance advantages for hybrids that were originally developed for a very localized, specific set of circumstances such as soil types and management practices.

In fact, Cornelius has more than 40 hybrids, each specifically adapted to much smaller geographic areas than would be attractive for international firms. This means that very often the international companies have difficulty competing with regional firms.

Field of cornThe third reason is that Cornelius Seed has a different return-on-investment need than large companies. It's profitable for smaller, regional firms to develop 40 or even 50 hybrids for its marketing area whereas an international firm simply can't fund and reap a profit from attempting to compete with such refined, localized, top-performance products.

The fourth strategy that allows Cornelius to help lead the industry in yield, standability and return per acre is that it operates very close to its customer base. The company is owned and operated by the Cornelius family, who live and work in the business center of the Cornelius Seed marketing area. Because they operate the business, they're able to visit with corn growers constantly to hear what traits are in demand under specific conditions...and then develop and deliver them. That's a far cry from having corporate headquarters in a New Jersey metropolis or a foreign country.

Finally, the problem most internationals have with regional firms such as Cornelius is that Cornelius prides itself on having substantial knowledge about all agronomic conditions that affect each hybrid in either a positive or negative way, so customers are able to attain very local and specific information about Cornelius products that maximize individual corn growers' success. That's information large international firms simply can't provide on such a specific basis. While international firms are saying keep this hybrid north of the Mason-Dixon line between Colorado and Ohio to maximize its performance, Cornelius may be saying "keep this hybrid on heavy soil types in a corn-soybean rotation with good drainage north of Highway 30." With such specific management advice, others simply can't consistently outperform Cornelius.

The huge effort in developing top-performance products, combined with the many advantages regional firms have over international firms and the ability to maximize customer management of each product allows Cornelius customers to achieve consistently high-end yields. That's why Cornelius says "Plant It. Profit."