Taylor Seed Farms
In White Cloud, Kansas, in the northern-most corner of the state, Taylor Seed Farms (TSF) has long been independent and family owned, thriving in an industry now saturated with larger corporations. TSF works with local producers in Kansas, western Missouri and southern Nebraska to test hybrid varieties of seed corn and soybeans. TSF offers farmers leading genetics backed by on-site test plots and research.
“This is our 35th year in business; my father started the company and we’ve been doing this for a long time,” says Brad Taylor, owner of TSF. “We’re known for our research and test plots — we were some of the first to do extensive seed research in Kansas. Overall, there’s great variability in Kansas in terms of weather patterns and soil, so finding the right niche produce for the right acre is very important.”
Growth from good relationships, people
After attending college at Kansas State University and studying agriculture economics, Taylor returned to the farm and the seed business. “Since I graduated biotechnology and the seed industry has grown rapidly and inventories have changed so much,” he says. “Things have progressed from conventional soybeans and corn to Roundup Ready traits. It’s our job to stay on top of this progression for our customers.”
In the last decade, TSF has seen substantial growth. Today the company has seven sales people and eight office-field employees, serving farm dealers, agricultural retailers and doing direct sales across western Missouri, southern Nebraska, parts of eastern Colorado, northern Oklahoma and the eastern two-thirds of Kansas.
“We’ve grown into the largest independently owned seed company based in this five-state area,” notes Taylor. “We’ve been very fortunate to have very good employees and salespeople and the relationships we have with the seed dealers we work with are very strong. Our growth is attributed to working with good people and finding good genetics and traits. We can offer our customers more in terms of service than the larger seed corporations. With us, customers are not a number. We try to treat people properly and we care about the feedback we get from our farmers.”
TSF’s product line weighs heavily on corn and soybean seed, but the company is involved in a small amount of wheat seed. Taylor says TSF’s advantage is in best-fit seed solutions that match the soil conditions, growing season, temperature and all of the other variables that apply to specific geographic regions in the company’s five-state territory.
TSF’s facilities in White Cloud include state-of-the-art cleaning and sorting equipment. “In my opinion, we have some of the finest facilities in the business and we have worked hard to upgrade equipment. Although we’re on a smaller scale, I would stack up our facility against a larger player in terms of efficiency and performance.”
The best value in hybrid seed genetics
From the lab and cleaning and sorting lines to the field, TSF is delivering more value for regional producers. “We do extensive research in each area and we’ve evaluated this research over the years to pick the hybrids that work for each location,” says Taylor. “A lot of times we will put different products in a small radius. There’s a big difference between something that works well in Kansas and what works in Missouri. Local testing is something the larger companies now say they do, but we’ve been doing it for 30 years. We work very hard and as a result, so do our products. They’re the best value when you put everything together.”
In 2005, TSF developed its Taylor Select Research and Selection Program to identify top genetics in hybrid-variety placement and adaptability. Today the company is able to access genetics from one of the largest germplasm and technology platforms in the industry.
In 2015, the company attended the Topeka Farm Show and took home big-time honors. TSF had several winners in the 2015 Kansas Soybean Yield Contest, including T351-2R at first place, pulling in 86.03 bushels per acre and the T460-2RS in third place at 64.94 bushels per acre.
But even award-winning products can’t alleviate some of the pressures TSF faces in price competition with big seed corporations. “As an independent seed company, our competitors are huge corporations that have an endless amount of money and that is probably one of the biggest challenges to our business,” explains Taylor. “They have huge advertising budgets and we can never win in the pricing game, but I’d rather apologize for being a little higher priced than delivering a poor product.”
Instead, TSF looks to strong relationships to boost business. “This is the most rewarding part, making longstanding customers and some that are so close you’d consider them family,” says Taylor. “That and seeing our products work on our customers’ acres; that’s the most rewarding part.”
As a member of the Kansas Crop Improvement Association (KCIA), TSF can turn to the organization for seed certification and support. “We’ve been able to grow in a very tough arena in recent years,” says Taylor. “We still think there’s a lot of potential for growth even with industrywide consolidation. We’re finding more people want to buy from small, independent companies like ours because we’re constantly reinvesting in the local community through employees, support of local schools and community causes.”
Over the last 35 years, Taylor Seed Farms has grown its reputation as a trusted seed business, delivering the most profitable seed genetics to best fit local farming operations.