MPS In Action Blog

Your Blog for Farm News and Information

Welcome to the MPS In Action blog, your AgVenture Seed Company link to the latest in news, information and education from across our independent Regional Seed Company network and the industry as a whole. Check this space often for the latest tips to increasing production and profit on your farm.

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September 17, 2014
By Travis Michl

We’re just getting our cropping plan started for 2015. We’re not making any major adjustments for next year — no big crop switches. While I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the market, I can’t see any economic reason to be planting corn on corn. So we’re pretty much going to rotate everything out.

As far as corn prices go, everybody’s concerned. Who knows how far down we’re going? And input prices aren’t going down that much. We’re going to have to start doing more with less. You can’t cut fertilizer; you can’t cut your chemical program; you can’t cut your seed program. So you’ll have to start placing fertilizer more carefully to use a little less and start tightening your belt a little.

That’s a big part of why the Maximum Profit System is so important. We all knew the gravy days wouldn’t last forever. That’s why before this year we bought a strip till rig with a dry fertilizer applicator on it — so we can start putting a concentrated amount of fertilizer right behind the row and be able to drop it back a little bit versus broadcast spreading. So that’s a very well accepted practice to reduce your tonnage, but not the effect of your fertilizer.

“It’s a Bushels Game”

You need to save as much money as you can, yes, but there’s only so much you can cut. You have to raise more bushels to lower your cost. And that’s where that MPS system comes in. It’s a bushels game. More bushels divided against your cost is always going to be a lower cost. You have to get more bushels out of what you’re doing.

And that message better be resonating with growers over the next few years. What are things we can do to raise more bushels that don’t cost anything? For example, just slowing down the planter helps you pick up bushels. It doesn’t cost you anything — just a hair more fuel and a hair more time. That’s something that anybody can do to raise more bushels and drive down costs.

“Farmers are their own worst enemies”

Those of us that are following MPS strategies, you can really see who’s trying. You can tell the fields that have plenty of fertilizer or have been scouted for stresses. If you’re not careful in your management practices, those issues are showing up this year. There’s a lot of nutrient deficiency and disease showing up. It’s been cool and damp — not a good year if you didn’t spray fungicide. All this is evident if you didn’t follow the MPS.

The plant-it-and-forget it thing, if that’s what you’re doing, you’re fooling yourself. But that’s what 70 percent of farmers today are doing. I think farmers are their own worst enemies when they have this mindset that they can’t break their yield barriers.

For instance, I think I’ve got a legitimate shot of breaking into the triple digits on some of my high management beans this year — but it’s a lot of work. But what’s funny is that what I’m doing doesn’t cost that much more than what other farmers are doing. I’m just doing it differently. I’m doing it better. MPS takes a lot of management and scouting. It means taking care of your plants, scouting them, feeding them right and giving them what they need when they need it. That’s MPS.

September 15, 2014
By Jackson Webb

The Cropping Plan

Wayne and I have started putting together a plan for next year on what the mix is going to be. I’m shifting my mix based on the market, as well as, for my operation, I need more acres. So I’m going to add wheat to the mix to try to achieve that. I’m not a huge wheat fan just because I never gave it a good chance. But Wayne’s not going to let me half-ass it, for lack of a better word.

Down here, we can plant the wheat, cut it, run it through the dryer, and we’re still planting the beans in early- or mid-May. Having the drying capabilities is going to allow me to cut it a lot earlier and get a bean crop and get a double crop. And we can have a respectable yield on our double crop beans.

I tried wheat once on some dryland, and that was the kiss of death. We made money on the wheat and then ate it on the beans. So next season we’re trying a different approach and putting the wheat on some of my better dirt.

I am giving up some corn acres to wheat and beans. I’m going to trim back a little. Not a lot, but a little. And I’m still going to plant my dryland in corn. If I can get in early, the law of averages says it’ll do decent. It makes more than 10-bushel beans. On dryland, if I plant corn, I’m losing less money.      

The Changing Market

Everyone down here is saying, “Well what’ll you plant next year?” And we’re all saying, “I don’t know, nothing works.” There’s no consensus. Nobody really has a clue.

Everyone is really looking hard at the farm bill — the production side and the price side of it. And I think there’s going to be a lot more homework in making decisions. No one has a clue. Some guys are going to go soybeans no matter what. There is a lot of talk of rice. I don’t do rice, but for the guys who are set up for it, rice works.

I think folks down here can get a really good base payment on their rice acres.

I’ve also got friends that are cotton farmers who are thinking of selling their grain equipment and going back to cotton. They got into the corn craze when the prices were good, but a lot of them never were really comfortable with corn. Now they want to go back to something they know. After all, we’re in the Mississippi Delta — cotton is king.

September 11, 2014
By Travis Michl

The cooler-than-normal summer hasn’t got me concerned, but I don’t think it’s helped my beans any. I would have liked to see it a little warmer for my crop, but at least we’ve been staying dry.

We’re seeing sudden death showing up bad in the beans, and it’s hitting one of my varieties pretty hard. And there are bugs in the beans if you haven’t been spraying insecticide regularly. Other than that, we’re just patiently waiting for the aphids to get here so we can spray again, but hopefully they won’t affect my crop since I have longer-maturing beans. We’ve been learning and going longer and longer, and the longer maturity we go, the higher the yield goes.

I’d say, from the way things look now, we’re going to have our biggest corn crop ever. And as long as the sudden death doesn’t get too bad, we’ll have our biggest bean crop ever. It’s a pleasant change for us around here.

With the cooler summer, we’re going to be pushed back a little bit for harvest. I would say we’ll start in late September. So right now we’re just getting some fall tillage equipment ready before getting stuff out of the ground.

September 9, 2014
By Jeff Morse

Most of our replant has just now completed on pollination, and it’s just starting to fill. Our crop has really made up for a lot of lost ground, I think because we’ve had really great heat and moisture, which is helping convert nutrients to corn, no doubt.

We’ve still got a long way to go, but hopefully Jack will stay away ‘til the first of December. Or at least hopefully we get a late frost.

For harvest, we’ll probably have the beans out before we even start thinking about corn. With the corn, it’s probably going to be at least the first of November — that’s about 4-6 weeks later than we usually start harvest. If a freeze comes, who knows. I don’t even want to think about that scenario.

But we have been lucky in terms of insect and disease pressure. The corn seemed like it was all late enough that we haven’t had too much as far as weeds. We have had a little northern corn leaf blight here and there, and there have been a few cases of Japanese beetles, but nothing major. We haven’t heard of any wild outbreaks of aphids or anything. I think the rain might have put kind of a damper on that too. The bugs don’t like the rain as much as they do when it’s dry. You have tradeoffs. When you have it dry, the bugs come too. But when you have it wet, it’s just wet. 

September 9, 2014

KENTLAND, INDIANA (September 8, 2014) — More than 300 producers from across northeast Indiana and western Ohio recently gathered in Wabash, Indiana for AgVenture McKillip Seeds’ annual educational Field Day event. Producers participated in educational forums with several notable speakers.

AgVenture McKillip Seeds President, Mike McKillip opened the day’s activities. “It was great to have so many people in attendance, especially given the weather. We have worked hard to support our customers and are committed to their success. This Field Day event allowed us to share with our customers the latest tools and techniques in agronomics. We were able to showcase some of the new, exciting products coming for the year ahead, and to talk about how these locally adapted products are helping customers maximize yields and profitability.”

AgVenture McKillip Seeds Sales and Marketing Manager, Mitch Snyder said, “Our goal with our annual Field Day event is three fold; appreciation, sharing knowledge, and managing for higher profitability. As a family business, we appreciate each customer and the generations of loyalty they give us. As a company, our team members are constantly learning and observing challenges in the field and the solutions our management techniques and products offer. As fellow farmers, we are committed to sharing these products and production practices that yield more and improve our customers’ production and profitability.”

Snyder said presenting at the Field Day was Jerry Hartsock, owner of Cutting Edge Consulting, Geneseo, Illinois lead the Maximum Profit System™ session focusing on high-yield strategies. Participants learned about agronomic strategies including residue management and planting tactics, fertilization management, fungicide strategies for disease and stress management, and active weed control in corn and soybeans. Dr. Mark Jacques, AgVenture Corn Product Manager focused on new corn genetics and their fit in our customers’ operations. He offered insights on emerging technologies and relative performance those technologies may bring to producers’ bottom line. Jeff Shaner, AgVenture Soybean Product Manager described the lifecycle of AgVenture brand soybeans from breeding through product selection at AVI, and locally at McKillip Seeds. Shaner also discussed new soybean technologies and the anticipated release of new products in the soybean product pipeline. The Field Day also offered growers an opportunity to gain Pesticide Applicator Recertification Program credits.

McKillip noted that the locally owned and operated regional seed company is celebrating 80 years in the seed business. “Many of our customers attending are second and third generation customers. We are proud to have such a sustained, positive relationship with every one of them. It is humbling and remarkable to be able to contribute over time and through generations to our customers’ productivity.”

September 8, 2014
By Jackson Webb

These last few weeks we’ve been really busy with harvest. I’m tired. And my wife started back teaching, so yeah, it’s been an adjustment. We’re over halfway done with our corn, and we started cutting beans this week. We’ll have the rest wrapped up by October 1st at the latest.

I’m lucky. We use a propane drier to dry our corn — we’ve had ours for 20 years —but most people down here don’t have them.

For people who don’t have one, they just sit back and wait. And those guys are just now starting to get into harvest because the moisture has just been hanging. Most of my neighbors actually have beans that are ready, and they’re still waiting on the corn to dry out.

Sandy Soil, High Yields

This entire season has been awesome, but that early moisture we got really affected the yields on our heavier ground. I don’t think anyone would have thought it — including Wayne, but on our heavier ground (our clay type, buckshot soils), the early rain really hurt. On the sandier dirt, the yields are phenomenal. For instance, a neighbor of mine had cut 240-250 bushel across a whole cornfield, but on the heavy soil he was cutting 130. And he planted the same day, same variety, and it was half what the other corn was. Just because of the soil type.

On average, my heavier ground was 80-90 bushels less than the lighter, sandier dirt. But the yields on my dryland did about 200. And the irrigated is a lot better than that. I’m really disappointed in the heavier ground. It just produced a small, stunted plant with a 6-inch ear. It was just too much water too early.

But the sandier, lighter dirt corn is phenomenal if you didn’t water. If you stuck with the plan as far as fertilizer, herbicide, fungicide and all that stuff, you’re cutting a 200-bushel crop. Down here, we usually average about 120-130, so that’s unheard of.

Overall, everything is good. The general consensus is everybody’s got a good crop. Everyone down here is cutting something — corn, beans, rice. We’re looking forward to wrapping up harvest.

August 29, 2014

Labor Day  is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.

August 28, 2014

If you are hoping another part of the country has a crop failure so your market price goes back up on corn and soybeans, it won't be the southern Delta coming to your rescue.  I just spent 3 days there this week and the corn crop is solid, the bean crop is awesome in LA, MS, AR.  Early soy yields in Louisiana are 85 to 90 bpa, with good farms at 110!

Market price is not under your control.  Forget about it.  Each year you will grow corn and soybean crops whether prices are up or down.  Do the things that you can control, utilize the training and help your AgVenture Yield Specialist has that will make you more bushels per acre.

Peace and MPS

Jeff Shaner, AgVenture's Product and Technology Manager

August 27, 2014

SUTTON, NE / KENTLAND, IN (August 25, 2014) – More than six hundred crop producers from across southern Nebraska recently participated series of AgVenture of Nebraska Seeds Partners (AVN) Field Days. A total of four events were held showcasing the latest corn and soybean seed genetics and technologies, and providing customers with information and fellowship. Events were held at AVN locations at Minden, Sutton, Wood River and Ashland, Nebraska.

AVN Partner Dennis Kenyon said, “We were pleased to welcome so many customers through the four Field Day events. There is still no substitute for evaluating crop characteristics in the field, onsite, and in an environment similar to your own growing conditions. These Field Days provided our customers with the opportunity to see and discuss the many merits of our deep product portfolio.”

Throughout the Field Day series, AVN team members Jeremy McCroden, Ryan Gannon and Dustin Schwenka led discussions at the plots highlighting the merits of several cutting-edge hybrids and varieties new to the product line up this year. McCroden said, “We are excited about how these products are performing and what new options they offer customers in terms of overall plant health and ability to yield under specific Nebraska growing environments. Together with the right insect and disease resistance packages and careful management practices, we are helping our customers reach new yield goals and improve their profitability across their operations.”

AVN Partner Tim Weeces added, “The team we have here has done their job extremely well; reaching our customers with outstanding adapted seed products, and helping them get the most out of ever bag of seed. Our customers across an expanding geography have had improved profitability as a result. That’s what this company is all about.”

Recently AgVenture, Inc. General Manager Dave Trienen praised AVN’s team members. “AVN has continued to grow with great momentum. They are now among the fastest growing and the largest independent regional seed companies in our network and in the country.”

Kenyon said, “We founded this company fourteen years ago with very humble beginnings. Today, we have some of the sharpest, most focused seed professionals in the industry working hard for our customers and our business. Looking at the map, our reach has expanded to five states. Our team works hard for their customers, putting great seed products to work on their farms.”

August 25, 2014

SUTTON, NE / KENTLAND, IN (August 22, 2014) – AgVenture of Nebraska Seeds Partners (AVN) marked the retirement of District Sales Manager Ken Erickson of Ravenna. At a Field Day at Sutton, AVN founders Dennis Kenyon and Tim Weeces acknowledged Erickson’s many contributions to their customers, to the business, and to Nebraska’s agriculture industry through his years of dedicated service.

Since 2004, Erickson has worked as a District Sales Manager with AVN. Kenyon said, “It has been a privilege to work with Ken these past ten years. He brought with him a wealth of experience and we have all benefited from his knowledge, wisdom and wit. Ken has always put his customers first. AVN is, in part, who we are today thanks to his many contributions. He has been a valued team member and will remain a trusted advisor.”

Weeces added, “Ken is a true seed professional whose 42 years in the industry have had a lasting, positive impact on Nebraska agriculture. During the past decade of service to AVN, he has helped build our company and our reputation. We are each grateful for having had the opportunity to work together for our customer’s profitability.”

In honor of his service and dedication, Erickson was presented with a Fredric Remington sculpture. Erickson said, “It is hard to believe it is time to retire, and it is really hard to leave. I have loved working with this group. They are so strong in their agronomics, and are dedicated to their customers’ success. I’ve watched this company evolve and grow. Our business is about helping people. That has made it not be work, but a pleasure to work together every day.”

Picture:  AgVenture of Nebraska Seed Partners (AVN) presented Ken Erickson with a sculpture upon his retirement from the company. Pictured left to right; Tim Weeces, Ken Erickson
and Dennis Kenyon.

Erickson and his wife, Judy, have two grown children; Heidi Riessland and her husband, Cody, live at Pleasanton, and son, Brett Erickson and his wife, Irina, live at Hastings.

AgVenture, Inc. is the nation’s largest network of independently owned regional seed companies. Based in Kentland, Indiana, AgVenture provides this growing network of independently owned and managed seed business owners with seed products meeting exacting standards for quality, together with leading-edge genetics and technology. Since 1983, this unique marketing approach has allowed each individual company to match the hybrids it sells to the specific needs of the geographical area it serves. Combined with professional seed representation at a local level, AgVenture strives to help every grower realize more profit from every field.