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 8, 2014
By Jackson Webb

These last few weeks we’ve been really busy with harvest. I’m tired. And my wife started back teaching, so yeah, it’s been an adjustment. We’re over halfway done with our corn, and we started cutting beans this week. We’ll have the rest wrapped up by October 1st at the latest.

I’m lucky. We use a propane drier to dry our corn — we’ve had ours for 20 years —but most people down here don’t have them.

For people who don’t have one, they just sit back and wait. And those guys are just now starting to get into harvest because the moisture has just been hanging. Most of my neighbors actually have beans that are ready, and they’re still waiting on the corn to dry out.

Sandy Soil, High Yields

This entire season has been awesome, but that early moisture we got really affected the yields on our heavier ground. I don’t think anyone would have thought it — including Wayne, but on our heavier ground (our clay type, buckshot soils), the early rain really hurt. On the sandier dirt, the yields are phenomenal. For instance, a neighbor of mine had cut 240-250 bushel across a whole cornfield, but on the heavy soil he was cutting 130. And he planted the same day, same variety, and it was half what the other corn was. Just because of the soil type.

On average, my heavier ground was 80-90 bushels less than the lighter, sandier dirt. But the yields on my dryland did about 200. And the irrigated is a lot better than that. I’m really disappointed in the heavier ground. It just produced a small, stunted plant with a 6-inch ear. It was just too much water too early.

But the sandier, lighter dirt corn is phenomenal if you didn’t water. If you stuck with the plan as far as fertilizer, herbicide, fungicide and all that stuff, you’re cutting a 200-bushel crop. Down here, we usually average about 120-130, so that’s unheard of.

Overall, everything is good. The general consensus is everybody’s got a good crop. Everyone down here is cutting something — corn, beans, rice. We’re looking forward to wrapping up harvest.

August 12, 2014
By Travis Michl

I don't even know how many years we’ve been working with AgVenture, but it’s been a long time. But the reason we stay with them is simple. AgVenture has great service and great products.

The service they provide is very good and very proactive. They’re very aggressive on management, pushing yield, and the whole arena of taking yields higher and further.

AgVenture’s agronomists have been a very integral part with taking us to the next level in every aspect that we're doing — from pushing us harder to keeping an eye on things we never really watched before. It's a very strong relationship on the agronomy side.

And the AgVenture relationship is just very unique. I go to my AgVenture agronomist with everything. We talk at least once a month, if not every couple of weeks. We bounce ideas off each other. He comes here about three times during growing season. We scout crops, look at things, look at fertility. And in the off-season he's an integral part of fertility and planning. Along with my AYS, it’s another relationship and service they offer that is extremely helpful.

 

 

August 12, 2014
By Travis Michl

All in all, the season is going great. We probably have the best crop we’ve seen in 20 years — or we’ve got a good start anyways. For the first time in a while, we finally got everything planted and growing pretty good, and we didn’t get any big rain to slow things down. It's just been nice. It's been warm enough to keep corn growing, and there’s not too much water to drown it out.

Aside from good planting, another reason for our success is that we've been able to get everything done that needs to be done. And we haven't had a lot of stress. The little bit of dry weather we did have helped get everything rooted down. But herbicide application went on well. We got our residuals down in a timely manner. We got our post-herbicides all done. We got our corn fungicide down, and we have one round of fungicide left to put on the soybeans. Things are just clipping along really well.

We also finished a wheat cut a few weeks ago. That was a little disappointing due to heavy disease pressure. But we got some double crop beans put in after that, and they are off and growing good, which is odd. Usually it’s so dang dry that when you plant them, they don't come up until it rains, but we’ve had enough moisture this year that they took off on their own and they caught a nice rain here a few weekends ago. They're off to the best start in a long time as well.

Working With Matt

Matt has been helping me this year and we rely on him pretty heavily for several things. He’s helping me stage corn and get put on the aerial applicators list to make sure the application‘s done at the perfect time. He has been taking tissue samples on corn and soybeans. He also keeps tabs on the fertility, so we can plan for any micronutrient applications we want to do still. Or anything we need to put in with the fungicide with the airplane on the corn. If it’s lacking a little nitrogen, we know and have a pretty good idea that we need to put more on.

It’s funny, but there are a lot of times Matt is here walking my corn or beans and I don't even know he's here. Matt is really picking up and taking off for this being my first year and first growing season with him. He’s doing a good job.

What’s Next

We’re doing a lot of scouting and watching for bugs moving in now. It’s all hands on deck. We have frogeye leaf spot moving in from the south. It’s not here yet, but we found it in Hamilton and other counties just south of us, moving north.

Other than that, we are just clipping along. As long as we keep getting timely rains, we are looking at a great crop.

August 11, 2014
By Aaron Paus

Things around here have been interesting. There’s been a lot of rough weather, though luckily we’ve been very fortunate with rain. It seems like every time a cloud comes up, hail comes out of it. There have been a lot of tornadoes and a lot of high winds.

But with all of that, we have been doing pretty well. We’ve had a little green snap and hail damage but nothing severe. It could be a lot worse. The adjustors found yield-decreasing losses on virtually every field, but it's just part of it. Every bag of corn has potential for 500 bushels an acre, and every day you take bushels off because of bugs, weather, emergence, whatever.

But with water, we’re doing great. The water allocations this year were at 10½ acre inches, and we would have to pump water pretty hard to go over that now. So this year, water won't be a yield-limiting factor. In fact, we have wells in a different district that we haven’t even turned on yet. It's a good year if you can make it to the 4th of July without irrigating. And we made it way past that.

Corn Prices

One thing that does have me worried now are corn prices. Apparently there is a lot of corn in the country, because the price of corn is heading south pretty fast. It’s about half of what we were looking at just recently. Soybeans are falling also. It’s just looking sunny and rosy all over the place.

Discovery Group

But we’re just out there trying to make the most of it. Coming up soon, we’re hosting a Discovery Group session at my place. There’s supposed to be around 12 members in the group, and we’ll be discussing what everyone has going on for a research project.

We’re also doing a factory tour at the Reinke facility in Deshler. Then I allotted time to have an irrigation technology specialists come in and talk to the group individually about what Reinke is doing and what’s coming down the pipeline. We’ll have an open discussion about what's needed and what's out there.

We also have Melissa Pierce with CropMetrics to come in and talk about what we are doing with our soil probes. I think that’s something that for the group could be expanded on. I think there is an asset in knowing what is going on with a soil profile.

So there’s good and bad. We’ll see what the rest of the season has in store.

August 7, 2014
By Aaron Paus

Not too long ago, Jeremy nominated me for the AgVenture Discovery Group, and it was through that work that we started doing learning blocks. Then quickly we were working together to come up with a lot of maps, throwing a lot of learning blocks out there and researching things that way.

As far as insights, two years ago, after our first go-round with learning blocks, we saw no dampening off from higher populations or nitrogen. In other words, the higher population blocks saw a linear correlation to increased yield. And the same thing with nitrogen—we saw an increased yield.

So after the second year, we bumped the populations a little bit more, both on our whole fields and the learning blocks. We finally started seeing some dampening off, which is what we're looking for to start honing in on the number. But we still didn't see any comedown from the nitrogen's perspective. We were still seeing an economical return on higher nitrogen application. So we’re continuing to push that higher. And not only to push higher, but to push it higher in different forms, and that's where we’re putting a lot of our efforts. 

August 4, 2014
By Aaron Paus

I think we've kind of come to a little bit of a plateau from the technology standpoint. We've been using variable rate for quite a while, and not that we've done everything that we can do with that, but it's a matter of where do we go next that were currently working on.

Then with VRI, that's one on my personal operation that we’re expanding a little bit more. I'm also interested in the multiple hybrid planting systems. I think that they’re showing some promise there. We don't really change population on marginal areas, but we are able to drop a hardier seed on those areas. So I think that’s something that we can look at.

There's a lot of craze about the whole drone thing right now. Personally, I can't for the life of me figure out how flying a drone over my cornfield is going to help much. A lot of times with the infrared or whatever cameras you’re using on those drones, by the time you pick up and see something it's too late to do anything about it. But we’ll see what the future brings.

July 31, 2014
By Jackson Webb

Precision farming practices are really taking off. I told Wayne, “I really feel like I'm doing everything I can from the ground up.” So we worked on it and now I'm doing as much as I know below the surface. Micronutrients for some reason have just taken the Delta by storm. Last year a lot of people kind of played with it, and it's really getting going. With variable-rate seeding, the products are so much better that a lot of people are trying way more of it.

A friend of mine is doing variable-rate on every acre he's got. I'm not. I'm doing about half variable rate this year. People are doing a lot more of it now and have seen the benefits. There are a few people that are looking at it as, “I can save three bags of seed on this field.” With Wayne and I - we say, “What's three bags of seed? Yes, seed's is expensive. But what's three bags of seed?” We’re looking at it from a yield standpoint. You might go from beach sand on the upper end of your field to buckshot on the other side. I don't care what seed company you’re with; you can't plan for that. If 20% of the field's buckshot, all you can do is figure out what your best seeding rate is. Wayne and I started noticing that the lower plant populations did better on the heavier ground. So that's what I did this year.

When the soil type changed, and I said it's not a payoff, he asked why not. I write my own prescriptions, but I told him that the variable rate stuff is just not going to pay off. So, I can save three bags of seed or eight bags of seed on this field. So, he said, “Sure, but what's it going to yield?” I hadn’t thought about that, so he pulled out the yield maps, and sure enough we dropped the population and the lower end did better.

On my operation, we’re going at it more from a yield standpoint than from a seed standpoint. We’re going for the stuff outside the pivots. The stuff outside of pivots, every year when we dropped our rate - did better. So we're doing a lot more than we were just two or three years ago.

 

 

 

 

July 30, 2014
By Jeff Morse

The June 3rd storm was rather devastating for the crop. We got flat, golf-ball-sized hail, and it ended up being about 3 inches deep by the time it was done hailing. And then it proceeded to rain and storm. It pretty much wiped the whole crop out, so we ended up replanting. Luckily, not all of our fields got hit so hard, but we did have to replant on our two other farms as well.

The adjuster was with me eight days later, and he had to ask what the crop was— there wasn’t even enough to tell what we had planted. The crop was at least a foot tall before the storm; and when the adjuster came, it wasn't even recognizable as a crop. So we replanted, and we’re coming back. We are confident that it’ll work, and we hope the good Lord will take care of us.

We got all the new crops in around the 15th or 16th of June, and the new crop is coming on strong. We ended up going with a little earlier plant, but not much earlier. We just figured we would hit it hard and try to get it in fairly quick.

Now we just have to make sure the corn is healthy and happy. The corn right now is just catching up with the nitrogen as it starts to go down the soil profile. I use a nitrogen stabilizer with my anhydrous, which not only will help the other corn, but is immensely helping the new crop because it doesn’t start to break down as fast.

What need now more than anything are heat units. We need sunshine and warmth. When we get cold weather, it just slows everything down. But it is good for the corn that didn't get hit with the hail. The cold weather makes it mature slower, which actually makes it yield more because of the heavier grain.

As far as the crops go, we’re getting everything mowed and are busy waiting for the corn to start tasseling, and making sure the weeds are all controlled, and the bugs aren’t in it. But a lot of that depends on our corn — whether it’s been genetically modified and has bug resistance in the seed itself. I hate that term, because everyone has bad connotations about GMOs, but the way we are doing it, we’re actually saved from having to put on more insecticide. I would much rather have my plant determine that the bug can’t eat it, instead of me spraying something over the entire crop. With spraying, there's more potential for contamination or other problems, and non-targeted bugs to be killed by it too. But genetically modified corn is made specifically to repel corn borers, earworm, rootworm and so forth.

So it's just kind of a watch-and-wait program now. We’re doing some scouting too, and we walk through everything. But now that all the crops are in, I get to take a little vacation and go fishing. It's important to take your family on vacation. In my opinion, downtime is essential for every operation.

 

July 24, 2014
By Aaron Paus

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 24, 2014
By Travis Michl

I met Matt in mid-November — he rode on the combine with me a couple different times. Then in February, we really started working together. I was finishing up my cropping plan for the year and finalizing the hybrids and everything else. Here's what Matt has to say about our season together so far:

"It’s tremendous when a grower is forthcoming about where they’ve placed stuff, what their field conditions are like — if they’re wet, if they’re dry; if it drains well, if it doesn't drain well. That really helps getting to those relationships that are an ongoing thing year after year.

Travis is a very, very smart person when it comes to the farming and operations and everything else, so there's times when he's actually telling me something that I didn't exactly know. Then in turn, I help him when he has an issue or a problem. Hopefully I'm giving him information that can help.

I was just there recently and went and looked at all the fields that we have in corn and a handful of beans. He just got done double cropping his wheat in because he just finished up with wheat harvest last week. So they've been double cropping some of the beans, and I looked at some of the wheat fields and the beans to see how they were progressing.

I've been down there at least twice a week and then a couple times when I’m not down there, I may send him a text message or call him just to see what might be going on. He's kind of hard to get a hold of every once in a while, so it might be late at night —like the other day we talked at about 9 o'clock. And I know we've talked before clear out to 10:30 at night!"

Staging the Sprayers

"Monday I’m planning on going back down there to look at some fields that we preliminarily set up to get sprayed with fungicide. They have to get their sprayers set up ahead of time due to the fact that they have so many acres that are getting sprayed.

It’s coming on all the same time, so it's what they call staging the fields. So you have to figure out where the plant is in the stage and figure out the growing units that will get it to a certain point, then hope that Mother Nature stays true to that fact and go ahead and spray the fields.

Travis just had some stuff sprayed today and this next group of fields is about a week later than what he originally planted. So this is what I was trying to help him with yesterday, was to figure out when to stage the sprayers. So that's what I did yesterday was go out and do some counts to figure out where each leaf stage was for each field in different locations around the field. Then you figure out the growing degree units with what the weather will be like — from what people tell you or from the weather app on your phone. Then hopefully the weather and the temperature hold true. If it gets warmer that's great, but if it gets cooler, that's bad news for us because it throws off the growing degree units."

- Matt Bugg, AgVenure Yield Specialist at AgVenture D&M

 

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