Some Say It. We Do It.

At AgVenture, we're more than just seed guys — we're go-to guys. While some seed companies claim to provide year-round service and insights, we really do. All season long, we work with farmers to achieve the highest yields possible, applying region-specific practices and technologies. Journey with four farmers across the U.S., as they work with their AgVenture Yield Specialists to reach new heights on their operations.

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September 17, 2015
By Jackson Webb

Harvest began in mid-August in the Delta, and Jackson Webb is well into his crop. Here are some scenes from the fields.

     

August 19, 2015
By Jackson Webb

We’ve been harvesting for two weeks now, and we’ve just finished all our dryland acres. It turned out okay; we saw 160 on some fields and around 130, 140 on others, which is okay. We’ve definitely done better, but we’ve also done a lot worse. I think it was more a compaction issue than anything. The field we harvested is our heaviest dirt; it’s a clay soil. This field last year didn’t even do that great. But the early May rains on that ground hurt our yields worse than we thought. It’s not a disaster, but it sure could have been a lot better.

Compared to Last Year

Last year was one of the best years we’ve ever had. This year is a 10-year average from what we’ve been used to the last two years. But we’re also just into our earliest planted corn, which was hurt most by the cold and wet in May. The next corn that was planted was three weeks after that, and it looks a lot better.

Now, we’re getting to our irrigated corn and working on that next, and we’re ramping up soybeans. They’re full-season beans that we got in early, and they look good. The bean crop actually looks good everywhere. And I have to say, my bean crop at home, cosmetically at least looks to be the best bean crop I’ve ever had. We won’t know for sure until the combine rolls, but it looks good.

Analyzing the Liquid P&K Program

We haven’t gotten to a point quite yet where we can compare the fertilizer program, so everything looks to be the same so far. But once we do some more harvesting, we’ll have a better idea of whether it helped the crop.

 

July 7, 2015
By Travis Michl

We haven’t done anything for the biggest part of a month now. We’ve been getting rain after rain after rain here. And it’s pouring right now. We started out the season great — everything was beautiful, and we were in the driver’s seat on the biggest crop ever until about a month ago. But the crop’s headed downhill fast. The bottoms are all flooded out, the tops are saturated with water. The beans aren’t growing because they’ve been standing in water since they were planted. And there’s nothing in the 10-day forecast that says the rain will let up.

We’ve been doing cattle work and hauling grain, clearing out bins — getting ready to put seed in bins. But we’ll definitely have to replant the bottoms whenever the river goes down — about 200-300 acres. They’re spread out and not big fields, so we’d have about two days of replanting.

Test Plots and Fertilizer Insights

Colt was down here the other day, and we took some tissue samples and sent them in. We also looked at a fertilizer test plot we did and got some pictures. There’s a big difference in the corn on those plots. Both corn that was precision fertilized and corn that wasn’t were in the same growth stage — V6. But where we put the precision fertilizer, the corn was up to Colt’s shoulders. Where we didn’t, it was only up to his thighs — and that’s at the exact same stage at V6. We put a couple strips in in half a dozen different fields and varieties to see how they reacted, and it’s a version of the same thing everywhere. Where the fertilizer was not placed directly under the row, there’s a huge growth difference.

So now we’re just sitting around hoping the beans hold on long enough for us to spray, and we’re getting an airplane lined up to fly on some more urea and possibly fly on some fungicide. We did get 800 acres of V6 fungicide put on before it started raining a couple weeks ago, so that helped a bit.

But right now I’m heading back to the shed. I’m smoking a beef brisket and grits today for the employees and we’re having a little cookout. There’s not much else to do, so we’re going to make the most of it.

July 7, 2015
By Jackson Webb

We dried up quick in a hurry this year, so we’re in the middle of irrigating this week. That’s all we’re doing, and we probably won’t have much else to do all summer. This is about week 2-3 of this and I’m just about to collapse.

Emergence was good, and we got off to a great start with our stand. But we hit a stretch in May that was just rain. It wasn’t torrential downpours, but we just stayed wet to the point where we couldn’t get back to the field. Every day we’d get an inch or two of rain. And then when it got a chance to dry off, we got another half inch of rain. It became a timing issue with fertilizing and spraying. If we got one thing sprayed, we couldn’t get another thing sprayed. Just little stuff like that. It just stayed very wet and delayed things. And once we got caught up, we went from constant rain to hot and dry. By the time we got back to the field, 10 days later it was dry and we decided we needed to start watering.

Irrigation

So now we’ve just got a long way to go and we haven’t had rain in 2–3 weeks. So now we’re irrigating everything. Usually we do six weeks, give or take. Last year was an anomaly, because when we started to water, we didn’t even make it around a full time before we caught a rain. We only had to water for two weeks last year, total. This year remains to be seen, but we’ve probably already watered as much as we did last year.

Typically we start watering about mid-June and then we go until mid July. We don’t have the type of soils and the type of dirt that holds moisture very well. We have a lot of compaction and tight dirt.

Liquid P and K

We started using liquid P and K lately, which Wayne, my AgVenture Yield Specialist suggested that we try this year. We used a fungicide in V5 testing with Wayne, and we did a large chunk of the liquid P and K across 43 acres sporadically. And as of today, you can’t tell any difference. We don’t know yet anything about it, but I can’t believe it.

Crop Stage

Right now our crop overall looks pretty good, if we keep water on it. We’ve top dressed, and we’re at brown silk and on the dryland, and we’re almost to dent on some fields. We have 106-day and some 110-day, and we’ve been very impressed with the drought tolerance on it — it looks very promising. If we catch one more good rain, it’s going to be an above-average crop.

The 106-day is new to our farm, and it’s one that Wayne recommended. It was somewhat challenging to plant (it looks like a checkerboard out there), but I think it’s going to pay off.

Overall, if we could catch one more good rain, we’d be in good shape. We’re not in that “holy crap, it’s a disaster” stage, but if we could get one now, it’d be perfect timing. But the crop overall looks pretty good.

July 7, 2015
By Jeff Morse

It’s been raining out there, but we’re busy in the shop. Every year we make some pepper sticks, like beef jerky. Usually we do it in the winter, but we’ve had so much going on that we’re just now getting to it. A lot of times we use our own beef, but this time we cheated. We use some beef, some pork; we add cheese. It’s a good way to take a break and do something different.

As far as the crops go, we’re catching up nicely. And actually this rain today is not a bad thing. We’re just a little over waist high on most of our corn, and I think we’re progressing all right, especially since we got planted kind of late.

We’ve got most of our spraying caught up, but we have been noticing some northern corn leaf blight lesions on the corn already, so we’ll start spraying fungicide in about a week. There are several spores, funguses and whatnot that didn’t hurt us last year but are bound to affect us this year. But we’re watching for it, so when we see that happening, we treat it.

Denny and the other AgVenture employees have been great at tipping us off to some of the stuff moving in. About three weeks after we put our fungicide on, we’ll spray again with insecticide. But right now, we’re just letting nature do it’s thing and taking care of our cows and calves. We’ve got 180 cows and the last of our three groups is just finishing up calving. We might have a couple late ones yet, but most of it is done. And it’s been nice to utilize all of last year’s corn stalks and a little bit of hay to keep them happy.

Watching the Markets, Feeling Optimistic

We’ve had enough moisture to feel confident going forward. We’re by no means dry, but it was starting to get to where we could use a little bit of rain. Since we had so much early rain and then everything just quit, it wouldn’t be good for the crop.

But with all that rain we had, the markets have really taken a turnaround. We’ve been fortunate that 99.9% of our corn is in and we’re not dealing with flooding like some of the other areas of the country are. All in all, it’s looking pretty good for us.

May 14, 2015
By Travis Michl

We’re right in the middle of planting out here, and so far things are going well. I’ve been working with a new AYS, Colt Halloran, in addition to Mike Davis and Brian Maxwell. Colt and Mike came out to my farm on our third day of planting corn and walked behind the planter, checking seed depth and spacing. They said I was a bit too eager, and the ground was a bit too tacky to plant. They like to stall you just by talking in your fields while the ground dries.

It’s been good getting to know Colt. I have high expectations for him because of all the great experience I’ve had with AgVenture in the past, and we talked about all the insights he can offer and tools we can use to have a great crop. They push me every year by suggesting ways to change the operation and make it grow. But I also push them by suggesting new things I’d like to try and asking how we can work together. I’m optimistic for this growing season, and with the great start we’re off to, I hope we get as good a harvest as last year.

May 14, 2015
By Jeff Morse

We’ve been going through a rough time lately. Two weeks ago today, my father of 93 years passed away. He was my business partner, my mentor and a big part of my life, and I feel lucky to have had a dad like him for so long in my life. So many people don’t get to have their dad with them near as much as I had mine.

He worked with me on my farm up to the end, as long as he could. He was very proud of the fact that he had grandsons that farmed, and myself. I guess he was proud of me too.

So right now we’re running way behind because we’ve been preoccupied the last few weeks. And we’ve had some sporadic rain. This morning we’re fighting with an anhydrous applicator yet, but hopefully in a couple hours here we’ll have it all running and in a couple days we’ll be up and planting corn.

Today we’re at the farm my son manages, which consists of a few hundred acres. We vertical-tilled the whole thing, and it’ll be mostly corn with a little bit of beans. (We vertical tilled all of our corn-on-corn fields this year, but we left our soybean fields alone). We avoided the showers on this particular farm, so it’s drier than others, and we’re pretty well done with our tilling now. In fact, my son is taking the vertical tillage machine home and unhooking it so we can hook up the planter. So we’ll be ready when the sun comes out.

I’ve been talking with my AYS Denny frequently — just this morning in fact. He knows we’re behind, but we’re just talking about when I can be done with corn, because he’ll have beans for me when I need them. As always, he says there’s no use getting out there when it’s muddy and the ground’s unfit. There’s plenty of time yet to plant.

Tags: planting, 2015, iowa
May 14, 2015
By Aaron Paus

We’re in the middle of a bit of a wet spell right now so we’re in the shop today. We’re about on day three of rain — we’ve probably only gotten 3/4” total, but it’s enough to slow us down. But planting is going well. We got our corn finished up and planted on the 3rd, and it went fairly well. I think we planted about 4,000 acres, but I didn’t count exactly. But we’re off to a good start and things are coming along. We’re working on repairing our soybean drill now, and we’ll head out to plant those once the sun comes out.

About the third day of planting, my AgVenture Yield Specialist Jeremy was out on our farm, and we’ve talked several times since then as well. And our agronomist Jerry Hartsock was in the area, so he stopped by, and I talked to him for the afternoon. Mainly we were looking at seed placement and just talking about how best we could get the seed placed in the best environment that we could. So they were just looking at those and making any small little changes we could to make it better.

The AgVenture Discovery Group session this spring was interesting. We came together to talk strategies for nitrogen, herbicides, fungicides, etc. Currently our variable rate irrigation program is on hold. We had a little bit of trouble with the individual I was using with that program, so we’re in the process of getting that switched over to a new gentleman who will help us with our prescriptions moving forward. But we’re recovering from that and we’ll get back on track soon.

But right now we’re focusing on the 1,500 acres of beans that will be planted next. We have about four days of bean planting from start to finish, and then we’ll be done.

Making the planter smile.

Discovery group members don't brag to each other about acres covered, it is who can drive the slowest. We send pics of our current speed.

Seven-year-old Anna running the planter.

Sunset.

March 27, 2015
By Jackson Webb

We’re ready to plant now, but we just can’t. We are saturated — we’re so in the mud, no one’s even thinking about trying to plant. We have some beautiful days — 75° and sunny, but then the rain comes; we can’t get a long stretch of dry weather. So at this point, we’re not getting terribly late yet, but we’re itching to go.

It was kind of like this last year — We had stretches of wet, then we’d get a three-day window where we could plant like crazy, but then we’d get rained out again. Last year was tough to begin, but there were days in there that we could get going, which was about this time. The earliest corn I planted was on March 20 last year. But the year before it was the 10th.

The AYS Difference

My AgVenture Yield Specialist Wayne Dulaney is doing good. We just had a whole meeting about our cropping plan and he’s actually going to look at some burn-down stuff, and we’ll meet again Thursday. We got burned out on 90 percent of our acres, but the rest is up near houses, so we’ll have to go in with something different. This is the time of year where Wayne and I are talking at least every two or three days. He’s also been helping us determine what the plan is — are we going to try to spray behind the planter, or are we going to try to get something up in front of it? And of course he’s helping with our chemical selection — he’s been getting us to change to liquid P & K working with a place in Louisiana, so when this thing finally does break, we are ready to get rolling.

As for the cropping plan, he’s been helping me adjust to the way the market’s reacting. We picked up a good bit of ground, and at first, the plan was to put in a lot of beans just to keep costs down. But we went through three different cropping plans and decided to switch from corn to beans on ground that is better suited for it. We changed the plan a couple of times, but I think we finally have a final deal. And that’s kind of the way it’s always been with he and I. We have a plan, but nothing is set in stone until the planters roll. But at least it gives you an idea of what to look at and what’s going to work and what’s not.

Finding the Right Variety

Wayne’s been suggesting some great varieties that will work on our ground. We’re working on dryland corn, and he actually brought some stuff to me that’s been in the pipeline for quite a while. We tried a little bit of it last year and it worked real well, so we’re going with it again this year. We’re also trying to take advantage of maturity in our bags of corn. God bless the Louisiana farmer, but if he doesn’t get any corn planted, at least not til real late, we may see a premium on the seed market early. So instead of going with the full-season, 119- or 121-day variety, we’re switching to 108s and 110s just to take advantage of what may be an early premium.

March 27, 2015
By Jeff Morse

Things are going well here. We are bailing stalks for our cow herd operation. We’ve only got about 250 bales to go, so it’s not too bad. The amount we have should put us through the fall, so we’re set.

On the farm, we’ve calved a bunch of calves, and we have another round in April. And for the crops, we’re getting seed in tomorrow. We’ve been working with our AgVenture Yield Specialist, Denny Kasperbauer, a little bit lately. We missed the AgVenture University because of weather — it was icing that night, so we didn’t get to go. But Denny informs us about what’s going on, so it all works out. The AVU was about corn varieties that are coming down the pipeline and certain herbicides to maybe stay away from or be very careful with. We also touched base on the different planter speeds and planting methods — and surrounding yourself with moneymakers and money savers in certain ratios. This is an important time of year, because it all comes down to the planter.

Getting the Right Varieties

Denny is really helping us find good seed this year. We might shift gears here with our cow operation and start chopping a bit more corn. So I have to get back with Denny about that and maybe line up a few more acres of silage.

He’s recommending seed that is good on our soil and prevents diseases and insects — all of the above. But the difference is that it has to perform on our unique soils out here. We’re deep soiled, but we wash easily, so we’re in a very minimal till situation. I don’t like to say anymore that we’re no-till, because defining tillage is moving soil from point A to point B. So if you’re no-tilling, you must have grandma out there with a straw and she’s blowing that seed in the ground. If the seed moves soil, you’re still tilling.

The High Price of Fertilizer

Even though it’s been warm, we haven’t been doing much farm work. We’ve been spreading a lot of manure, got our barns cleaned out, and that makes a big difference on our ground.

We’re also trying to line up fertilizer purchases to supplement the manure, but fertilizer prices have been so enormously high, and with corn prices not really being so great, we’ve been delaying that. So we’re just pricing fertilizer now, and thankfully, it hasn’t gone up hardly at all since the last time we tried.

It doesn’t seem right to me that the fertilizer prices are so high with the corn prices as low as they are. But it’s just like when we got spoiled with $7 corn a few years ago, and some people thought it was going to be that way the rest of their lives, and then it got cut in half and they didn’t know what to do. I think the fertilizer companies saw that $1,200 stuff 7–8 years ago and thought “Well, we can cut that in half and still be coming out pretty good.” Well, that’s all the cheaper it ever got was about half that. In fact, what we priced here today was about the $700 mark for anhydrous ammonia. That’s probably the cheapest form of nitrogen there is, and if you put it on 164 pounds (just for easy figuring), it would be about $70 an acre. Last year we bought fertilizer for $590 rather than $700. But the price has actually gone down since last year. We contracted corn last year at $5, and we had contracts yesterday for a whole $4. Commodities are 20 percent lower this year, but fertilizer is almost 20 higher. It makes you sharpen the pencil a lot more.

That’s where the efficiency and the knowledge of AgVenture is critical — the efficiency of what they’re trying to preach is going to pay off more. If you’re going to get a return on it, you’ve got to know how to do it.

 

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