Missouri Southern Seeds in Rolla, Missouri is owned by Mike Cowan.

President/CEO: Mike Cowan

Location: Rolla, Mo.

History: The Cowan family have been involved in the seed business since the late 1960s.

Doug Hartman, vice president and sales manager of Missouri Southern Seeds, said the current company began in Rolla, Mo., in 1982. Prior to becoming Missouri Southern Seeds, the company was known as Cowan Seed, which was owned and operated by current company president and CEO Mike Cowan’s grandfather Bert Cowan and father Ron Cowan. 

Products and Services: Missouri Southern Seeds is a wholesale distributor of seeds for forages, cover crops, native grasses, as well as turf and wildlife seed.

“We sell to farm stores in most all of Missouri and the edges of the adjoining states,” Doug explained. “We have our own trucks and deliver weekly to about 200 dealers.”

Most of the seed distributed by Missouri Southern Seeds is sourced from Oregon.

“There are several seed companies out there, and they can produce more per acre than we can here. Kentucky 31 fescue that’s grown here in Missouri, they can make produce as much as 2,000 pounds per acre, so even with trucking costs, it’s cheaper to truck it from Oregon to here because it is so much cheaper. Also, we don’t have that many local seeds that we can buy. The summer forages we are selling now come out of Texas, and we have a lot of grains that come out of North and South Dakota, and Canada. 

“Some of the things we sell, like Bermudagrass, comes from Texas and Oklahoma; some wildlife seeds come from Thailand and South America. We have a lot of versatility. Some things can reproduce here in Missouri, but we don’t have the climate for raising seed here like they do in Oregon. And, they raise seed for seed, so it’s a higher quality seed and we get a consistent supply.”

He added endophyte-free fescue is produced in Oregon because growers are able to keep varieties separate. 

Doug said bringing seed from other areas of the nation typically has no impact on growth.

“Tall fescue in Oregon grows the same as tall fescue here; Orcahrdgrass grows the same, as do certain types of fescue, bluegrasses and perennial ryegrasses,” Doug explained. “It might not be grown here, but it is adaptable here. 

Seasons and weather conditions dictate the demand for products, and Doug said this year it’s warm-season forage seed. 

“Right now it’s summer forages – pearl millets, sorghum sudans – because we have a shortage of hay in Missouri, and people are planting those to try and get a new hay source,” Doug explained. 

Missouri Southern Seed might not sell directly to consumers, but they do answer questions and help producers grow the best forages possible. 

“We offer advice on what to plant and when to plant and how, to the best of our knowledge,” Doug said. “We also try to tell them where they can find their local dealer.”


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