S&W Seed Company announced the initiation of its dormant alfalfa seed production program with the planting of production acreage in Manitoba, Canada. This marks the company's first planting of production acres of its "dormant" alfalfa seed varieties, which is suited for cooler climates such as the northern United States, Canada, Europe and China. The expansion into the dormant alfalfa seed space opens up a large and previously untapped market opportunity for S&W.
Alfalfa seed is ranked by dormancy, and since 1980, S&W had focused primarily on breeding and producing "non-dormant" alfalfa seed varieties that are suited to warmer climates. This initial production of dormant acreage, which is suited for cooler climates, will be planted with the company's Rhino variety. Rhino is a "3" dormancy, meaning it allows for approximately three hay cuttings per year, and has outstanding yield characteristics. Across 34 unbiased university yield trails, Rhino outperformed all other varieties tested by an average of 3%, translating into substantial incremental profits for hay farmers. The company currently has 160 acres of Rhino established in Manitoba that is expected to be available for sale in the fall of 2014.
Mark Grewal, president and chief executive officer of S&W Seed Company, commented, "Today's announcement is a milestone event for S&W Seed Company. For the last 30 years, we have exclusively focused on developing the world's leading non-dormant alfalfa seed varieties, and now for the first time we have gone into seed production with a dormant variety. The dormant alfalfa seed market is by most estimates equivalent to that of the non-dormant, and thus this has the potential of greatly expanding the addressable market opportunity for S&W Seed Company. Additionally, we are seeing tremendous growth in places like China which has the ability to increase the size of the dormant alfalfa seed market as a whole."
Grewal concluded, "We are still early in the process, but are executing on all the various steps needed to become a growing player in the dormant market in the coming years."