Farm Seed Signs

Driving along in America’s heartland, I regularly see signs with a seed brand and lot number such as this. Although I’m not a corn-plantin’ guy, I can intuit that they want to make clear what specific seed was used because it may have different resistances (glyphosate and the like) and different strains get patented and can’t be propagated, etc.

However, sometimes I drive by and see signs like this one which seem to be entirely promotional. It’s not next to the informational sign, just sitting on its own and perhaps the only sign for a half mile – at least along that stretch of road. Is this a requirement from the seed provider? Does Pioneer put in the signs and the farmer is like “Eh” and doesn’t care? Do they serve some other function?

Hardly one of the more pressing questions of our time but, hey, I’m curious and don’t personally know any farmers.

From here:

“Plenish® high oleic soy offers functional and consumer benefits with improved performance and broader applications than other available edible oils to help meet the food industry’s need for a soy-based trans fat solution”.

So it would appear that the “Plenish” is the ID marker much as the number would be on the corn seed. Indicates the variety and such.

Perhaps there are fewer variety of soybeans being grown that they don’t yet need numbers.

No, there’s definitely ID signs in soy fields. Also I’ve seen the more promotional signs outside of corn fields.

Well, until proven otherwise, I’m sticking with my statement that Plenish serves the same purpose as the number on the last sign you posted. Easier to remember too.

But then you wouldn’t need this. I’ll also note that sometimes the additional lower sign isn’t there and it’s just “Science with Service” or some other quippy promotional line.

I don’t know … but may I suggest it expedites seed evaluation … fella could just drive by, note quality of plants and drive on … without having to stop and ask the farmer-person what seed he planted …

I’m sure that’s part of the reason for the ABC123x signs. But I’m asking about the ones that don’t actually offer much (if any) information about what seed is there.

It seems odd to me that some farmer would be so excited about Pioneer brand seed that he’d decorate his fields with promotional signs. On the other hand, if someone were to say that the agreement to use the seeds (this stuff is all patented and watched these days) includes someone putting signs up then that would make sense. But I don’t know if that’s the answer.

I wonder if it could be promotional from the manufacturers to the planters. Like, they give them these signs at a nominal fee which also happen to include advertising like most swag. Then, some farmers take advantage of these cheap signs to mark what type of plants are where because it is more convenient than to make their own.

According to the document downloaded from here:

The numbers indicate varieties of Plenish soybeans.

Plenish® soybean varieties 93Y42^ (RR) P29T68PR^ P31T96PR^
P33T34PR^ P34T90PR^ P35T66PR^

I feel like I’m not making myself clear:

There’s two styles of signs
(1) Signs with a code. Those signs are obvious (to me) – the code says what exact type of seed is planted there which is useful information to the farmer for numerous reasons, especially if you have multiple fields with different seeds. Probably also useful if a rep from the seed distributor is driving around checking things out. I assume these signs come with the seeds.

(2) Signs that appear to be purely promotional. They just say the name of the distributor and maybe some ad blurb. I’ve been using Pioneer just because that’s what I remember but you see signs from other people. These signs are sort of like getting a new car with a promotional license plate frame. If you bought a new car and the dealer just handed you a dealer frame, you probably wouldn’t run home to grab a screwdriver and attach it. Which makes me wonder if Pioneer (or whoever) comes out and puts them there or if the farmer has some obligation to put them up as part of the seed deal or what.

I looked though their product use guide and stewardship and use agreements and didn’t see anything about sign display but maybe it’s handled elsewhere.

All about field signs. They tell you who made the seed, what variety is planted, and who the seed dealer is. You might also see what fertilizer was applied or what pesticides were used. They’re kind of like real estate signs.

Thanks. That doesn’t seem to address the promotional signs though. They only talk about the ones with seed lot codes (I knew about those).

In at least some cases, the farmer with the promotional sign is a dealer (at least back in the 1960’s/1970’s when I was growing up in a farm town). He puts up the sign to let his neighbors know that what they are seeing is Dekalb corn/beans, and they can talk to him if they like what they see.

It may also be a field where Pioneer/Dekalb/whoever is actually growing the crop to produce seed to sell. I worked as a corn detasseler for Dekalb for couple of summers in high school - pull the tassels on the ‘female’ plants so they hybridize with the ‘male’ plants (generally two rows of boys and six(?) girls across the field.

Folacin has it. Seed companies will often give farmers a small amount of seed to plant a couple of rows, and compare the results with other seed types in the same field. And for the promotional signs, maybe the farmer is also a dealer, maybe he has a contract to grow seed crop for the company, or maybe the company gave him a lot of seed that year and asked him to put up a promotional sign.

Seed corn prices can run $200/thousand, with a farmer planting ~33,000 seeds per acre. With a seed price of $6,600/acre, if a seed company wants to cut me a break in exchange for a little sign on the side of the road, I’ll sure consider it.


It’s been literally half a century since I did any real farming, but in my day the promotional signs were analogous to the dealer logos on automobiles. They don’t cost the farmer anything and farmers have better thing to worry about than a sign some rep stuck up in their fields.

Sure, occasionally you’ll see some guy with a tool stripping all the dealer ads from his car, or you’ll see some farmer pulling down the DeKalb signs, but mostly it’s “meh”.

I’ve always assumed they were as much promotional as identification. Farmer Bob is driving down the highway and sees fields of lush tall corn, thinks of the scraggly stuff he has, and wonders what kind is it. He soon sees a Dekalb flying cob and now he knows what to buy next year.

That was my original thought but I didn’t know who actually stuck the promotional (no code) signs in the ground. If a rep came by and did it, that would make sense – combined with the other information above.

I had a small fear that this was going to be about Sneed’s.