Estimated U.S. seed market shares released

The yearly battles for seed business have been fierce for the past decade as consolidation and biotech fueled DuPont Pioneer's and Monsanto Company's dominance in market share.

While these two heavyweights duke it out one seed sale at a time, the smaller players push to capture corn and soybean acres.

"In some crops, the biggest source of competition may not come from other seed companies but from the reduction in acres as a result of weak commodity prices," Garrett Stoerger, partner at Illinois-based consulting firm Verdant Partners, said.

While all players keep a keen eye on market share, overall industry data is not shared publicly. This marks the fifth year Farm Journal has reported market shares by interviewing consultants, industry executives and other sources to assemble the data.

The 2015 market share statistics are still being formed, but low commodity prices, acreage shifts and the struggle to get crops in the ground added extra tension in the market.

Mother Nature was tougher on some parts of the country than others, resulting in larger acreage shifts in certain geographic areas. As a result, companies with a high market share in regions experiencing significant acreage shifts could realize more loss than companies with a lower share. However, Stoerger believes the biggest drivers in market shifts are product performance, customer service and access to value-added technology.

In 2014, DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto continued to dominate, accounting for 70 percent of the corn seed business and 60 percent of the soybean seed business. Monsanto gained market share on both fronts while DuPont Pioneer slipped. 

Consolidation in the industry continues with one notable change. AgReliant acquired Golden Acres Genetics of Waco, Texas, to spread its footprint further west and add more corn, sorghum, sudan and forage options to their mix.

One game-changer could be Monsanto's purchase of Syngenta, a move largely met with anxiety.

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