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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June 27, 2014
By Aaron Paus

One of the things we're being forced to learn how to do quickly out here in Nebraska is to learn when the crops are going need water and when. In the past, we could apply unlimited amounts of water, but this year we’re dealing with allocations and can only put on 10 to 10½ inches of water per year. We may have actually hurt ourselves before by putting on too much water too early and getting too much vegetative growth, and not putting enough into the reproduction stage.

So now we’re looking at doing some research on cutting back and letting the crop suffer and die through the vegetative growth stages and just pouring water on during the reproductive stages, which is different from what we have been doing. Once we get a handle on that, we'll see if we have to play with our nitrogen schedules on top of that.

We’re also doing a lot of work this year with some variable rates irrigation programs and some and remote soil probes, which are kind of exciting going forward to the next year. Jeremy is not just holding my hand through that — he's pretty much pulling me through. He’s telling me, “Hey we've got to do this once you get things up and rolling.”

This is the first year I've run any variable-rate prescriptions on any irrigation. Jeremy and I are working with CropMetrics, who are pretty much the leaders in VRI information. So we're not just going about it blindly; we’re dealing with some people who have some pretty good ideas of what's going on there. We’re excited to get some new information through working with them.

June 27, 2014
By Jeff Morse

Around here, we don't use any irrigation at all. We depend on Mother Nature for all of our moisture, and it works well for us. Our soil holds a lot of moisture — about 2 inches per foot of water. So it takes about 20 inches a year to grow a crop of corn, and corn roots will go down approximately 5 or 6 feet. If your soils aren't too compacted, they might even go 7, 8 or 9 feet. So if you looking at starting out with 2 inches a foot, then you're looking at only needing about 6 to 8 inches; and maybe and you're sitting all right. That’s a nice advantage to have.

Loess soil is pretty unique — there are only a few places in the world where there's only this type of soil. One of them is here, and one of them is in China. It's a real deep soil — in places there's probably 40 or 58 feet deep of soil. Years ago, one of the soil conservation guys told us that you can scrape off about 20 feet of it, level off, mix a little fertilizer and air with the soil and raise the same crop you did before.

It's a coveted kind of soil, but it's highly erodible because it doesn't contain a lot of organic matter. To combat that, we have to do a lot of no till or minimum till. We raise corn on corn a lot more because you have a lot more root mass holdings that way. Beans aren't great for it, because they loosen the soil up so much and promote more erosion.

We’re finding out here in the last few years that we have to start using more cover crops in this area — just something to get you through the winter to hold the soil and create more organic matter by the root masses from the cover crop. Erosion is probably our biggest thing. Aside from cover crops, we also have a lot of terraces around here. While a lot of places around the country may have a terrace or two around the top of the hill, here we have six and sometimes seven or eight terraces going down the hill all the way to the bottom. We’re lucky to have the loess soil, but we do have to really take care of it.

June 25, 2014

KENTLAND, INDIANA (June 24, 2014) — Seed Company owners and AgVenture Yield Specialists from across the country attended AgVenture, Inc.’s summer conference held in St. Louis, Missouri last week. The annual summer conference provides an opportunity for independently owned and operated Regional Seed Company professionals from across the country to engage in professional improvement topics, focus on product updates and share strategic insights between and among companies and individuals.

AgVenture Inc. Business Development Director, Chuck Schneider said, “We had an exceptionally productive week, focused on continued learning and active involvement. We are committed to our customers’ success. That requires us to be uniquely prepared to support them in all aspects that influence their profitability.”
During the week long sales and leadership training conference, AgVenture provided specific, focused sessions for seed company professionals of every level of experience.

Schneider said training experts in sales and leadership provided attendees with motivation and acuity for their professional customer relationship skills. Agronomic management sessions challenged participants to incorporate the science of crop production with effective customer support. “Our goal is to prepare each individual for our collective goal of improving profitability for every customer. By implementing the tenets of our Maximum Profit System™, which dramatically increases yield, lowers cost per bushel and improves profitability, we are best equipped to make a significant difference for each customer.”

AgVenture Yield Specialist, Becky Nielsen of AgVenture Pureline, Princeton, Illinois said, “This has been a very positive, very informative sales conference. Our speakers really helped each of us focus on the tools and tactics that make us uniquely effective for our customers. Additionally, we had the benefit of networking with and learning from our AgVenture Regional Seed Company counterparts from around the country.”

Chad Ealing, AYS for AgVenture McKillip Seed, Wabash, Indiana added, “We engage in a very challenging approach to providing our customers with the seed, service and tactics that directly impact their profitably. Our sales training is so intensive and inspiring, I cannot wait to go home and put these tools to work in maximizing my customers’ seed portfolios.”

AgVenture D&M Matt Davis said, “The collaborative support and enthusiasm among our team members from across the country is highly contagious. We definitely see the best of the experience and wisdom of our senior sales personnel combined with the energy and perspective of our newer team members results in a very creative, fresh approach to bringing value to our customers.”

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.

June 25, 2014

Submitted by Matt Davis of AgVenture D&M.

Guess which one was planted slower and deeper? This is the same hybrid planted on the same day in the same field 30 rows apart.

First one is 2 inches deep at 4.5 mph, the second one is 1.5 at 5.5 mph...

June 23, 2014

KENTLAND, IN (June 23, 2014) – AgVenture, Inc. has announced the recipient of the Earl H. Passwaters Agricultural Scholarship. During the company’s annual national sales conference held this week in St. Louis, Missouri, the $1,000 endowed scholarship was awarded for the second year to Iowa State University student, Clayton Robison of Winfield, Iowa. Clayton is the son of Chris and Sharon Robison.

The scholarship was established in memory of Earl Passwaters, a founder of AgVenture East Coast Seed, who passed away suddenly in 2011. It was offered by Earl’s wife, Beth Passwaters, and on behalf of their children, Brian and Mandy.

AgVenture Business Development Manager Chuck Schneider said, “We are very pleased to offer this scholarship to students pursuing a future in production agriculture. It personifies the commitment our many Regional Seed Companies (RSCs) make every day to their customers and their profitability.”

Beth Passwaters said, “It is a great pleasure to award this scholarship to such a deserving young man. He personifies the qualities that make AgVenture, and the future of agriculture so promising. Clayton is a very well-rounded young producer who is committed to his agriculture passions, his family and to activities and service within his community. We are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to his bright future in production agriculture.”

Robison will be a junior at Iowa State University majoring in ag studies and minoring in agronomy. He is very active in crop and livestock management on his family’s corn, soybean and alfalfa farm where they also custom feed pigs, raise commercial cattle and maintain a string of show pigs. He was an active 4-H member and is involved in college organizations including Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and Block and Bridle, music, sports and community service.

Robison was selected from a pool of candidates applying from across the country. The scholarship is awarded annually to a student pursuing an agriculture degree and with plans for a career on a working farm. Applicants must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, demonstrate community involvement and submit an essay about why they chose a career in agriculture, and the benefits of having a degree in the agriculture field. Interested applicants, or contributors to the scholarship fund, may contact their AgVenture Regional Seed Company or the Newton County Community Foundation in Rensselaer, Indiana for more information.

East Coast Seed was founded 2008. Today the company continues to serve corn, soybean and alfalfa producers across Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, providing them access to AgVenture® brand seed products and year-round professional seed support.

June 9, 2014

We would like to congratulate Bill Hoben on his recently being awarded the "Hitch Pin Award".  The plaque on the award reads: "For unwavering determination, through all of the big and little things you do to help the company and our customers win!" 

The Hitch Pin Award is awarded to those that have demonstrated high dedication, determination and teamwork to provide solutions and manage through adversity.

Bill has effectively and professionally managed our production and supply chain function through some very challenging issues over the past 5 years.  He has patiently worked through difficult and complex situations with both internal PROaccess/Pioneer staff and more importantly with the AgVenture Regional Seed Companies.  Bill has established the trust and credibility of the AgVenture staff and the Regional Seed Company network.  Bill is the “go-to” guy when it comes to understanding seed quality and the potential impact on our company’s business.  He has handled himself with grace and high character through very challenging situations. 

Bill is a problem solver and works diligently to find workable solutions for all parties involved.  His understanding of seed production, quality, and distribution has proved to be invaluable to AgVenture.  Bill is a member of the AgVenture leadership team and contributes to the overall direction and strategy implementation for AgVenture, Inc. 

Bill effectively manages his team in Kentland through challenges.  He patiently takes the time to answer questions and train his team to be better equipped to handle adversity and recognize opportunities.   

During the 2014 selling season, Bill managed daily and late season production cuts.  Bill always found ways to find the positives in negative situations, keeping his focus on the AgVenture Regional Seed Companies. 

Again, congratulations to Bill and continue the great work!


June 9, 2014

June 9, 2014, Submitted by Jerry Hartsock of Cutting Edge Research and Consulting.

Have had several inquiries as to “striping” in the leaves of corn plants.  Here are my explanations as to why it is happening in order of hierarchy:

  1. Lack luster below ground root development tied to very active above ground growth and leaf development.
  2. Zn, S, Mn, Mg, B deficiency
  3. Poor lateral root development/lack of root hairs
  4. Possibly a trait of the hybrid
  5. Herbicide symptoms

Here’s where I am NOT seeing this occur or minimal occurrence:

  1. 2” final depth or greater
  2. Starter fertilizer with micros
  3. Safe herbicides
  4. Met early season nitrogen needs
  5. Good below ground

In general I believe the crop looks very good with maybe nothing looking perfect but also virtually no train wrecks.  In a perfect world I wish I had 1,000 – 2,000 more plants /acre which either were not planted, did not germinate or wrapped up underground. 

Keep up the good work and diligence of looking!




June 6, 2014
By Travis Michl

We started building our cropping plan for this season in about August of last year. For the most part we’re sticking to it, with minor changes. Mother nature usually has the call with any changes.

The weather’s been a challenge this year in Illinois, and we’re way behind. A few weeks ago, everyone fired off hot and heavy to get their crop in. But it didn’t go in in real good conditions; it was wet. We all had to work the ground once, and let it dry out before we could plant. It was far from ideal and I'm not happy about that. But you just can't wait on perfect conditions.

But aside from that, there is something unique in our plan this year. This is the first year in 10 years we don't have any corn on corn. With the economic conditions and everything taken into effect though, we decided not to plant corn and corn this year and put it all back to beans. Together we’ve got 1800 acres of corn and 1500 acres of soybeans this year, so we’ll see.

From an economic side of things, the biggest thing for us is basically fertility management — to give our crops what they need to produce that optimum yield. We started doing some strip till with dry fertilizer this year, trying to get beneath this crop a little more and take care of it. Agronomically, that's the biggest challenge around here. With our highly variable soil types, low CECs, and low organic matter, we have to try real hard to feed fertility to our crop and keep it happy all year.

Hopefully we’ll see success when we start integrating that strip till system. And when I say that, it's more for the fertilizer placement than strip till, and it's more for banking the fertilizer. We’ll get that implemented and effective and operational. And after our last two seasons, it would be nice to have a normal season — whatever "normal" is.

June 6, 2014
By Jeff Morse

We’re located here in the Loess Hills of Council Bluffs Iowa. We have about 1200 acres of corn and soybeans and we feed cattle. This year we’re about 70 percent in corn and 30 percent in soybeans.

Our goal this year is to raise 300-bushel corn or better. We've accomplished it in places, but this year we want to get a 300-bushel average. Over the years, our corn yield has been rising through our management practices. Since we've been using the Maximum Profit System that AgVenture’s been having us go through, it's been steadily increasing. It’s because we've just been changing our operation all the time with little improvements. Even the little things make all the difference.

We’ve been applying some of the same practices to our soybeans, too. Soybeans are kind of a funny thing. With soybeans, if you have them on grounds that you haven't had soybeans on for four or five years, you can really do a lot more with them than on rotated ground. Beans are one of those things that seems like you can pretty consistently get 60 or 75 bushel on the rotated ground if you work and work and work at it. But with corn, it seems like you can get a lot better yields, pretty consistently over 200, with a lot easier practices.

We're doing a lot of corn on corn on my operation. We’re finding out that we can do a lot even after the harvest to help our cattle herd. We have a cow/calf operation that's all in a hoop beef system, so we don't tie up ground with pasture. The cows stay in the building, but then you have the manure that goes back on the ground to improve the soil. And after we harvest the grain, we use corn powder from corn stocks to feed and bed the cattle. We currently have 50 head of cattle, but we’re in the process of expanding to have 180 before the end of the year. We’ll have 360 total with calves once we get rolling.

This year my second big goal is trying to get the boys involved. For my one son, we’re trying to get him started in the farm. For my oldest son, this will be his second year farming already. He graduated in 2012, and he's been helping since forever. And then my middle son just graduated from Iowa State. He's pretty eager to get going.

I do have a daughter, too — she is 12. She really enjoys watching the livestock and going out and riding the machinery. We don't know if she has an interest in farming yet, but time will tell I guess. Her mom is an X-ray technologist, and she always said that she would never marry a farmer… but then she did. And it’s funny, but now my oldest son is engaged, and his fiancée said the same thing. She thought she would never marry a farmer. We have to eat those words sometimes.

June 6, 2014
By Jackson Webb

We farm about 2500 acres down here in the Delta. This year we’re planting 1500 corn and 1000 beans, and we’re in and planted as of now. We’re up to a stand of corn, but the beans just got in the ground. We've been catching a lot of rains, and we buried two planters one weekend not long ago. We’ve been getting these two-day spurts of dry weather a week. When that happens, you just have to go as fast as you can for two days and sit around and wait for another week.

Everybody around here is really frustrated to say the least. It was a sprint to get everything in. Like everyone in the country, we’re used to more of a marathon. But this year it's a sprint. We had frozen grounds this spring, which normally we don't have. We also usually get a week or two in the winter just out of the blue where we can get out there and get some stuff done. We didn't have that this year — we stayed wet and cold all year. And now we're staying wet.

Luckily I am extremely lucky with the labor I have. One guy has been with me since I was 3. His family has been here for two generations, and he came to work here when he was 15. He is like a brother to me, and one of the sharpest guys I've got. He picks up on the technology and can handle any of it — and that’s rare. Even though mother nature hasn't been on our side, it's a relief to know I've got good guys backing me up.

Besides the weather, the other challenge we’re facing this year are prices. With the prices the way they are, I have to operate on a razor-thin margin. Don’t get me wrong — I live a comfortable lifestyle, and no complaints there whatsoever. But this year is not a year to save money. But it's a year to watch what you spend.

In the same breath, I don't think there's anything I'm going to cut back on. There are some projects I would have liked to have done this year, but with $5 corn, they're going to have to wait. I don't see any reason why we can't have as good a crop this year as we had last year, but in my operation I'm going to have to watch what I'm spending and where.