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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February 17, 2015
By Aaron Paus

Current Conditions

Right now we’re overcast and foggy — it’s kind of a miserable day. I’m doing a couple of maintenance things and paperwork, just trying to get ready for the season.

We had a couple big snowstorms roll through a few weeks, but it was pretty typical of our winters — the first one was probably 6 inches, the second one was maybe another 3–4. It was a wet snow, and we’ve had nice weather since so a lot of it’s gone now.

Unfortunately, the snow will have very little effect on the water restrictions here. The restrictions for 2015 have already been set — last year they were set for the next three years: 10½ inches.

Next Up

We haven’t had a chance to do field prep yet, but we’re hoping to do our field prep in mid-March. And then let the madness begin again.

‘Til then, we’re getting moved along on repairs on machinery. I need to spend some time in the office getting my maps organized and deciding what has to get done and in what order. It’s always a struggle for me to have all the prescription maps ready for when the time comes.

In terms of priorities of fieldwork, I actually like to focus on getting my hillier dryland stuff done first. It gives a greater potential window for rain to happen between prep work and planting in a no-till environment. And the flatter-area stuff can get pushed back that area doesn’t need rainfall so much — we can rely on irrigation.

Discovery Group and Strategies for 2015

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be in Louisville to meet with the Discovery Group for AgVenture. And that will really help focus our efforts. It’s a brainstorming session and I hope there are some good ideas for what we can try on my farm. For me it’s easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day stuff. I need to really sit down and talk with others to get an idea of what we’re going to do going forward.

But my greatest goal at this point is to stay in the black for ’15 — and it ties my hand a little bit on what we can do from a research perspective because of the economics.

What I’m most interested in trying is a heavy emphasis on variable rate irrigation and remote soil sensors. We did some last year but really didn’t use the technology to the best of its ability.

The remote sensors simply send soil moisture conditions to the cloud. You’re able to pull that data from anywhere and make irrigation decisions from it. Right now we’re trying to figure out the best route to go, which might be putting multiple low-tech sensors in the field — one for each zone, so about three per field. It gives you more readings, which will help us figure out the best timing of water applications and nitrogen applications dependent on variety to variety.

It’s something that, with the water restrictions, we’re really going to put more emphasis on. Just to be more efficient with what we’re doing.

February 17, 2015
By Jackson Webb

As you know, we picked up another 4,000 acres to add to our operation this year. I’m going in on it with a neighbor, and that’s going great so far. The place had been pretty 

neglected for the last four years, and we actually got it broken and disced and whipped into shape. We ended up getting about 800 acres of wheat planted on it and got the remainder rowed up and ready to plant. So we’re in good shape up there. It’s almost identical to our other fields in terms of soil types. It’s sandy dirt. So we’re going to do the same things on those fields as on our others — but we’ll just have more acres to use this season.

But now that we have so much extra land, our biggest problem is finding good labor. I guess you could blame it on education — though we blame it on other things — but lack of labor down here is horrific. If you’re a good, experienced operator and you’re young, you’re in very high demand. I was looking to hire two guys — I called them the day I found out they were available, but they had already been offered jobs.

I’ve got a friend that teaches at a little two-year college down the road, and he tells me that everyone who comes to him to learn has been sent by their bosses — everyone’s already working. So there’s really nowhere else to find skilled labor.

I did find one good hire — he was actually in construction before this. He’s a young guy and he shows a lot of promise.  So we’re eager, and we’re putting tanks on tractors and going through planters. Just getting everything ready to get the season kicked off.


February 17, 2015
By Jackson Webb

We are warming up and drying out quickly here in the Delta. We’ve been in the 60s this week — just warm enough for the mosquitos to come out. I just had to run up to Dulaney’s and pick up some planter attachments and there were planters in the field doing prep work.

Everybody’s already gearing up for planting. We usually shoot for the first couple weeks of March to get out there, depending on the temperature and forecast and all that.

Over the winter, we’ve all come to realize how quickly you forgot how low corn prices hurt. Everybody down here is really just — I wouldn’t say they’re in shock, but, normally this time of year, the cropping plan we’ve been working on for the last three months is set. But I think we finally finalized (or at least have a really good idea) as of just two weeks ago. Every day it’s market-dictated of whether you’re switching this or switching that. So everyone’s just really not sure what to do in what they’re planting — hell, peanuts have even come back a little.

Understanding the Farm Bill

But the big thing that’s up in the air is the Farm Bill and deciding between ARC and PLC. The deadline is February 28. All of a sudden, everyone has said, “Oh crap, we have to make a decision in the next two weeks,” and nobody —understands it.

For example, you got your insurance guy advising you to do one thing that works best for him (and nobody seems to grasp that your private insurance doesn’t have anything to do with this). And you’ve got a few good agents out there that are trying to guide you based on your yields and your history.

People are looking a lot to outside sources to help them make the decision. Michigan State is a real good tool to get advice on this stuff. Some people are using their accountants just to crunch numbers. Texas A&M has a really good program that lets you pull in numbers and see what works. But what worked this year, is it going to work next year?

I don’t know what I’m going to do. Looking at prices, it looks to me like the ARC option looks better. But then with my yields on some farms, the other option looks better. I don’t know how in the world we’re going to figure it out. I just wish someone would tell me so I can go play in the dirt. 

February 6, 2015

KENTLAND, INDIANA (January 30, 2015) — AgVenture, Inc. has announced they have expanded their AgVenture® brand seed product offerings to include hybrid sunflower and sorghum seed. The addition of the two new product offerings will complement a broad product portfolio including AgVenture brand corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. The company’s nationwide network of independently owned and operated Regional Seed Companies (RSCs) will make the new seed products available in regions where products are specifically selected and adapted to perform at their peak.

AgVenture Director of Product and Technical Marketing, Scott Hart said the sorghum and sunflower product offerings work very well into their customers’ production systems and cropping plans. “AgVenture’s ability to access products, this time, from a deep DuPont research pipeline, has allowed us to identify and select sorghum and sunflower hybrids that are highly adapted to perform in the specific geographies they are offered.”

Hart noted that both high oleic and mid oleic sunflower hybrids are offered in the 65-70 day RM. “These hybrids have shown very strong performance among some of the most challenging diseases facing sunflower growers. Our sunflower hybrids offer excellent quality, productivity and a great Downy mildew resistance package. They have validated their robust performance in university trials and in the field in 2014.”

The sorghum product lineup includes a broad set of adapted products. AgVenture Sorghum Product Lead, Louis Sutton said, “They are uniquely suited to their growing areas from Texas to eastern Kansas, Mid-South, to the Carolinas and up the eastern seaboard.”

Sutton added, “We tapped a very large sorghum breeding pipeline to take advantage of some great synergies our customers needed with high-performance sorghum. Our hybrids, in the 63-73 day RM range, come with solid disease resistance, strong agronomics and top-yielding potential. It allows our Regional Seed Companies to complement their offerings – rounding out our customers’ seed needs. These hybrids come with the same high caliber specs and performance that our customers are used to with our corn and soybean products. We’re proud to offer them.”

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.

January 6, 2015

AgVenture Product & TechnologyBusiness Manager, Jeanne Storey discusses Chinese import approval of MIR162 event.

Chinese import approval of the MIR162 event brings a sigh of relief from farmers, seed companies, trait providers and grain handlers. Since 2011, the event known as Agrisure Viptera®, has been recognized as a valuable trait offering control of a broad spectrum of lepidopteran corn pests. This lessens the occurrence of damaging mycotoxins, including aflatoxins, for improved  grain quality. China began rejecting shipments of corn that carried traces of Viptera in early 2014, causing hardship on all parties in the grain channel.

Now that China has approved import of the Viptera trait, we can all rest easy knowing that U.S. corn production will be improved by the use of the Viptera trait with no issues surrounding grain marketing. AgVenture currently has products with both Viptera® 3110 and Viptera® 3111 in the trait portfolio and will be adding other offerings that include the valuable broad lep trait in the near future.

December 22, 2014

KENTLAND, IN (December 21, 2014) – Chad Harms of Adams, Nebraska has joined AVN Seed Partners, LLC and will serve customers across southeastern Nebraska as an AgVenture Yield Specialist. Harms will provide AgVenture® brand corn, soybean and alfalfa seed to customers along with year-round professional seed consultation. Harms has been actively involved in his family farm near Adams where he has been farming with his father and brother. Most recently, Harms was a leading associate with Aflac Insurance.

AVN Seeds, LLC. Partner Jeremy McCroden said, “Chad is a great addition to our company. He is very passionate, informed, and focused on his customer’s success. His deep understanding of both business and farming will no doubt help us share our uniquely selected, adapted product lineup across this region.” He added, “Strong product performance combined with year-round professional seed support is what sets us apart in the business. Chad will be a great asset to his customers.”

Harms said, “Farming is an important business that is seeing rapid changes. The advent of new technologies is impacting how our farms operate; from our seed, to our equipment, to our crop protection/nutrition products, etc. Our customers are looking for ways to best protect their investment while making the most of every seed, every operation and each field.”

Harms said he is pleased to be part of the company. “AVN team members are committed to our customers’ success. We bring our customers the latest seed genetics and technology trait combinations that are adapted locally, uniquely suited, and specifically selected for our growing environment and production practices. We work with our customers throughout the year to help them achieve higher yield goals and improve profitability on every acre. I look forward to putting these seed products to work.”

A graduate of Midland University at Fremont, Nebraska, Harms holds a degree in education and served as an elementary school teacher prior to returning to farming and insurance work. He and his wife, Toni, have one son and three daughters. They are actively involved in school and community activities.

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.

December 19, 2014

These facts may help refresh your memory on what it takes to grow high-yielding soybean crops. (They may also help you impress the relatives over the holiday!)

The typical soybean crop needs ~315 lbs N per acre, about 60 percent of which (190 lbs) goes to seed production and 40 percent (125 lbs) goes to stover and roots.

Soybeans fix nitrogen from the atmosphere when nitrogen-fixing rhizobia bacteria are present in the soil. Nitrogen fixation is a result of the symbiotic relationship between rhizobia and the soybean plant and is evident in nodules on soybean plant roots. Most studies show that between 50-60 percent of the nitrogen is from N fixation.

A well-nodulated soybean plant should have five to seven nodules on the primary root.

You can check for nodulation on soybeans as early as two weeks after emergence. When needed, soybeans respond very well to nitrogen applied between flowering and pod fill.
(Sources: AgVenture, Inc., University of Nebraska Lincoln)

Tags: soybeans
December 12, 2014
By Jackson Webb

I would say the biggest thing I learned this season was not anything that helped me this year, but all the stuff that hurt me that I did wrong.

I decided that I’ll never plant anything flat again. We’re going to row up every single acre. We did it again this year and lo and behold, it’s the best stand we’ve ever had.

We had little pockets of water — the little mud puddles in the field that you can go out and cure it with a shovel or a hoe — but all those little bitty pockets affected our stand, where it still cut 200, but it could have cut 250. I guess you learn something every year, but this year was kind of a reminder of how important drainage is early on.

Next year we’re also going to start doing our P and K in liquid form. The liquid version will make nutrients readily available to the plant. With our soils, the nutrients are there, but they’re just readily available to the plant. We’re learning more and more about it every day. We’re working with a company in Monroe, Louisiana that specializes in it. And there’s about six of us who are trying it out. So we’ll see what comes of that.



December 12, 2014
By Jeff Morse

Harvest this year seems to drag on and on and on. But in defense of the harvest, being late with our corn crops has a lot to do with it. With being hailed out and having so much replant, it made a big delay in the operation. I think we did rather well for having to replant. We ended up with anywhere from a 40–50 bushel up to 180. It was just all over the board, but I’m pleased.

We’ve been held up a little with harvest because we’re calving right now. Being a livestock and grain operation tends to make it a little tougher. Some days you think you should be doing a lot of farming, but you end up doing stuff for your cows.

One group of 60 cows is calving now. One group will calve in late February or early March, and another group calves in April and May. We stagger them out so we have more of a cash flow for our operation and a better workload. If you were calving 180 cows all at the same time, it would be too much.

Growing the cow operation alongside our grain operation is good, because you use the waste products from both as benefits. We really emphasize using manure for our fields, because compared to commercial fertilizer, there’s no comparison. It’s that much better. Nature makes things a lot better than we ever can. It helps the soil from eroding and helps several issues in the environment, and the nutrients are more available for the plant.

On our operation, there’s no waste of energy. We’re using corn stalks for bedding and for feed, and the manure for the ground. Without this cycle, the stalks would sit out there waiting for a slower form of Mother Nature to break it down, where this actually speeds it all up. Some people — even fertilizer people — don’t understand that manure can bring a piece of ground back to life almost surprisingly fast, where commercially it might take several years.

As far as I’m concerned, farmers have been the number one environmentalists from the get go, and in taking care of our ground, we have to do it. You talk about going green, well, I think we started that movement. And we weren’t looking for political points, either. There is a responsibility to be a good steward in this profession