Regional Seed Company Spotlight: AgVenture Spangler Seed Company
Since 1913, the Spangler seed farm in Jefferson, WI, has been dedicated to the Wisconsin farmer. That dedication is as strong today as it was more than a hundred years ago. Jeff Spangler and Customer Relations Representative Matt Eske talk about why Spangler has been — and continues to be — a driving agricultural force in the area.
Why do you think Spangler Seed has survived for more than 100 years?
JEFF: We don’t give up. Being a family business has a lot to do with it. When my grandfather and great uncle started the business in 1913, they were truly forerunners in commercial seed production with varieties like Golden Glow, Silver King and Northwestern Dent. They developed systems and equipment to manage, sort and handle specific seed products for customers. In fact, we were one of the first seed companies in Wisconsin to build a “Wright” dryer. When my dad and uncle entered the business in the 1950s, they started a research effort and proprietary seed development. We introduced our own brand of corn hybrids around that time and a line of proprietary soybean varieties in the early ‘70s. We’ve seen a lot of changes in agriculture over the years, and I know we’ll see a lot more in the future, but we’ll always carry on the original Spangler reputation for high quality and for coming up with new ways to help farmers be more productive.
After more than a hundred years as an independent seed company, what drove your decision to become an AgVenture Regional Seed Company?
JEFF: We wanted the strength of a big company behind us, without losing our independence. AgVenture’s access to leading genetics really appealed to us, as did their approach to service. Now our customers get national bands from a local company that makes all the decisions. Customers can talk directly to the owners without having to go through layers of people.
MATT: AgVenture doesn’t have a “sell ‘em seed and see ‘em later” approach. With Maximum Profit System™(MPS), we provide year-long service to our customers. We get to know them by working with them, from planting season through planting season. If we’re not in the field with them, we’re helping them develop cropping plans. MPS is all about taking a look at each individual and saying, “What can we do to help you grow a more profitable crop?”
Spangler Seed Company has always put the needs of its customers first. What sort of things do you do besides provide seed to support your customers?
MATT: We do field checks at key times. They’re important because we learn about a grower’s management style and what tools and resources we have that will add value. If we’re not on the farm throughout the year, there’s no way to know the best way to help. Some growers are great at planting, but need a little guidance on weed management. Others are in a rush to plant and could benefit from net effective plant stand (NEPS) and proper seed bed preparation help. Probably one of our most valuable services is we develop cropping plans which serve as a blueprint for the next growing season.
Does the fact that you’re a seed farm give you any advantages?
JEFF: To be an independent seed company and a seed producer is a pretty rare thing. We run 1,200 acres of seed production, so we know firsthand what the positives and negatives of each hybrid are — what happened to that seed through the growing season.
MATT: Our lots undergo the same environment stresses as our customers’ crops. That helps us understand their frustrations and barriers. If our customers are having trouble getting their crops in because of rain, well guess what? We’re having the same problem in our fields.
What are you telling your customers now — early on in the season — to do to manage the health of their crops?
MATT: The first thing we urge our customers to do after plants emerge is a NEPS flagging study to see what went right — and wrong — with planting. The results give us a guide for how to improve things when we put seed in the ground next year. We also encourage them to walk the fields to check for weed, disease and pest challenges. Nothing can take the place of scouting fields throughout the growing season. You can spot issues and stop them before they become major threats. You may determine that soil and/or tissue samples are necessary. It’s all about timely management of potential problems.
What’s the best advice you could give a grower?
MATT: Never let your crop have a bad day.