Managing Water Restrictions in Central Nebraska

My AYS is Jeremy, and he has been instrumental in taking my operation higher in the last few years. Here's his perspective on our growing season so far:

Things are going well in Central Nebraska this year. We had some growers in our area that had to replant, but Aaron was lucky enough that he didn't have to. Lately, we've been out in the field checking stand counts, and we'll be getting into fungicide and tissue sampling in the next week or two. With high winds, there's been lots of green snap this year, but we made it through all right. Some of our competitors didn't do as well. The worst field that I have is about 5% green snap, and right beside it was a competitor with upwards of 80%.

We do have some water restrictions this year, but we’re working to get ahead of them. If we can help the guys understand what to do early, we’ll be much better off. We just gotta learn how to manage our water. Aaron has done a really good job with it — you have to really be careful of what you use early in the season and then you gotta do a good job late in the season to help fill out your ears. That's what we’re starting to deal with on his variable rate irrigation. Hopefully we just understand the timing of water and amounts during the season and try and hone in on that. It's a learning curve we’re just getting started on it. I don't know of any other seed companies that are doing it.

Aaron is also really good about thinking long-term, and we have completed three years of seed and fertilizer preparation and technology with him. We started VRI stuff this year, and we're really excited to see how that turns out, because I think it's going well so far. All of our prescriptions that we use for seed and fertilizer worked very well. It's been wet enough that we don't have to start on the irrigation yet so that's yet to be seen. It'll probably start here pretty soon I guess.

Pushing Yields Higher with Learning Blocks

We’re also doing some learning blocks with Aaron to test a bunch of things, but we won't see anything on those until after harvest. They’re on the computer and on paper, but we just want to leave them alone and see what we come up with that the end of the year. We’re looking at lots of things — hybrid by population, hybrid by fertilization, high pop, low pop, high fert, low fert.

It's all about just finding the right combinations for each hybrid. Every hybrid is different; it's like a child. It's got a male and female parent, and some kids are more predisposed to different things. Some hybrids like lots of fertilization, some will take a little. So you gotta learn what each hybrid likes so you can make recommendations. With AVN, we actually go through three different rounds of germ testing, and our competition only does one. So we have some really good plants out there, and I'm really pleased with this year.

The AgVenture network is also full of experts, and they help with any questions we have during the season. For instance, I talk to our agronomists every week. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked a lot about herbicides and which ones are safe and timely and all that. As we move through the year, we move more towards the hybrids, what's doing what and what's looking good. We talk about all different kinds of stuff — whatever is pertinent at that time. That's the thing with this industry is everything changes. Every week there's something new and different.

Jeremy McCroden - AVN