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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July 24, 2014
By Jeff Morse

My AgVenture Yield Specialist, Denny, is with me rain or shine...all year-round. We've been working together for a total of about 13 years. Here's what he has to say about our season so far:

"In western Iowa, we started out like a lot of people — extremely cold. To start with, we were very, very dry in the area. A lot of guys were very conservative starting up the year, not wanting to put in much fieldwork. So we dealt with a lot of trash that normally we probably wouldn't have. It seems like a lot of the ground stayed cold all the way through May, and my guys held off planting. We still had a lot of issues with corn coming up, because of the extra trash in the field and the cool temperatures.

Weather is always a variable and we've experienced some problems here with the weather — which I know a lot of other areas have, too — but we had pretty big widespread hailstorm and heavy rains go through part of my southern territory that actually hit Jeff. He had to replant just about 7/8 of what he planted the first time corn and beans. The hail lasted long enough that you couldn't even tell where crop was out there.

They waited almost 2 weeks before they came out and made an evaluation of whether they should replant or not. It looks like some of the smaller corn should've made it, but the hail stayed on the ground long enough that I think it froze the growing point. So there is a lot of replanting being determined a little bit later than normal. But like I say, a lot of places have different things to battle this year like the weather we've had.

We did early up a little bit. We didn't go real early — some guys jump into that hundred day. We didn't do that. We tried to stay 106/108. You still have to go after yields, and to be that far south and to go hundred-day corn, I was afraid we would get beat up in yields. He would be happy to deal with a little more moisture and get more yields then to have something halfway dry - no yields.

He does have a beautiful stand now. Everything he replanted came up in about five days. We planted a little bit thicker and he says I don't think there was a kernel that didn't grow. It's just a little behind right now.

When we replant we plant just a little bit thicker population because you're planting later, so you're only going to get so many ears, so to be real big you'd rather have more ears than not enough. Like I said every kernel did grow too, so for being that time of year, we had good warm temps by that time, and he worked the ground right ahead of it, and he really has a good stand in the ground."

- Denny Kasperbauer, AgVenture Yield Specialist at AgVenture of Western Iowa

July 24, 2014
By Jackson Webb

With the great year we’ve had, this definitely changes the plan moving forward. Not just with our timing at the planter, but there are other things we've been doing this year — just learning from past mistakes, or things we didn't intentionally try — that we’ll be keeping.

For instance, planting on stale beds. This year I didn't run any kind of row conditioner or anything. We just dropped in and planted and I've got the best stand side-to-side, end-to-end that we've ever had. We didn't intentionally do that. Last year, we were running late, and I said, “Just drop in and plant it; it's on a pivot anyway — don't worry about it” and we had a perfect stand. It was 200-bushel corn on our pivot. In the Midwest that's doable, but down here it's not undoable, it's just uncommon. The stand is what brought that through. So we tried it again this year, and now I'm a firm believer that I'm not going to touch my beds.

Another example — one year, we got caught in a typical rainy spring and didn't have anything out. It stayed wet, and the corn was waist high and just yellow. All it had was a starter. Ever since then, we started running the nitrates right behind the planter. If you're putting them in the middle, you’re disturbing the seedbed; it's another piece of equipment you've got to run. Wayne actually came up with the idea of doing it at planting, so we tried drizzling it behind the press wheel and it worked!

Honestly, this is all possible because Wayne and I work really well together. It's almost like Wayne is a partner in my farm. It's just a really easy relationship. It’s probably an anomaly, but we've been friends since birth, and that's a large portion of it. Wayne is really passionate about it, and I am too. We kind of know what the other one’s thinking, and we have our plan. So if we don't talk for two or three days I know he's busy, he knows I'm busy, but we communicate nearly every day.

 

 

July 24, 2014
By Jackson Webb

This season has been an anomaly. The biggest thing is we have not watered one full time around yet. The pivot has run twice. We've had somewhere in the neighborhood of probably 14 inches of rain in the last six weeks.

Normally, three waters is about average. I just went back and looked just for the fun of it — and normally we start about the last week of May and we don't stop until the last week of July...and we haven't. It's just, it's unreal really — so we've had near-perfect growing conditions. We've had probably three days that the temps got up to mid 90s, but it was before pollination — before tassels — and other than that we've been anywhere from the mid-80s to low-90s the past six weeks. We've had almost perfect weather on the corn.

If you got it in in a timely manner this season, you’ve got a great crop. If you did, it’s near perfect. I've got neighbors that didn't get planted soon enough, and it looks awful. Timing is huge this year. I've got a friend down the road (he's actually my chemical salesman), and he's got beans in the pod.  He was planting his beans when I was planting my corn. So the timing this year has been key. Wayne, my Yield Specialist, said it was hit or miss in a lot of spots. I got lucky — or blessed. Not sure which.

Bad-Luck Beans

The beans are a different story. They’ve stayed wet and they’re not growing like they should — one of my neighbors has replanted four times. It's getting kind of frustrating with everything you throw at them, saying well that didn't work. Either that or you get another 3-inch rain. Then, they're right back where they were a week ago. I'm getting real close to abandoning replanting.

With some of the other beans around here, it's not a disaster. I'd say 70% of the crop looks pretty good but then you've got the other 30% that just doesn't look good. It’s hard to decide whether to replant because if you’ve got beans that are blooming and you're going to go back in and replant them, the problem comes at the end of the year- they’re late. So then you're late getting in again. That's how I look at it. Some of it is still knee-deep underwater from the last big rain we got, and all the ditches are full because the water has nowhere to go.

Looking Ahead to Harvest

For corn, I am thrilled with what Wayne has put on me. I haven't cut it yet, but, my banker asked how it looks, and I said it looks to be one of the best crops I've ever had. It may get to it; it may not, but aesthetically, it looks like the best crop of ever had. End-to-end and side-to-side, it's got a beautiful color — it's kept the color just for the weather we've had.

Up next is harvest. I'm thinking I've got maybe two maybe three waterings left on the irrigated corn. It may be two. The target is this week for harvest, so just around the corner. Realistically it'll probably be the next week after, just because year after year it seems like it gets to 30% and it sits forever. And almost overnight, it drops five points. Normally, I would start around the 21st or 22nd, but Wayne and I have been talking and I think, based on the price and everything else, we are going to push it to the 22nd or 23rd.

July 24, 2014
By Jackson Webb

I work really closely with Wayne, my AgVenture Yield Specialist throughout the year. Here's what he had to say about this season so far:

Corn in the Delta

"During a normal season, we generally do at least three rounds of irrigation and watering. I've told Jackson to start up three different times so far, and he never gets a complete set done before it rains again. Every farmer, from the ones who have been doing this for 30 years to the ones of who have been doing it for 50 years, we've never seen anything like this. For the corn, it’s pretty much a perfect season, despite the challenges we had at planting.

I would say we had marginal planting season for Jackson. We really thought we were pushing the envelope on it, and it was stressful, but I think we ended up with a better crop than we did in 2013. Last year we thought we were pushing it on March 15, and this year we did it on March 18.

It was cold and everything again. We finished up around April 9, and then we went through a cold, wet spell there for about a week. It was high 30s like 39 for a couple nights. We even got frost at one point.

We also have been trying fungicide in-furrow for a couple years. I think fungicide must just be like crack to corn. It just makes it feel better — whether it's real or not, if it makes it feel better, who cares? The corn really emerged evenly and pretty quick, even with the weather we had. It turned around, and we have one of the best-looking crops we’ve ever seen so far.

With soybeans, it’s a different story. It's like a witches brew every time we turn around. They’re stunted they don't want to grow. They’re waterlogged. We've had to throw some stuff at them, like some foliar-fed fertilizer stuff. I’m just out there calling our agronomists, asking what else we can try. We’re getting to the point where we may not replant.

But the corn — the corn is in really good shape."

Finding the Right Seed

I think on irrigated corn, we should be black layer by August 1. We've got some dryland corn — and this is what I'm proud of — it's one of these deals that, normally we could only pull off with AgVenture.

I was fortunate enough to go to our big meeting in January in Florida for production, and I was able to get with our product team and say, “All right guys, I've got to have a corn variety that's 110 days or less that can take some heat stress. I don't worry about the disease package because we're going to put fungicide on it.”

So they start pulling a couple things, saying, Let's try this let's try that. We put the seed in our little strip plot — in our Profit Plot system there's a small plot — and two years ago, I found three varieties that we would work with. I grew a little bit last year on my farm and made sure that this thing worked. We got this great 106/108-day variety, and I say gosh we’re dented right now on it. It's 200-bushel corn no doubt, but with no rain, we saw how good it was. We put an extra 60 units of fertilizer on it whenever we got to tassel. So we’re looking pretty good here.

- Wayne Dulaney, AgVenture Yield Specialist at Dulaney Seed

 

July 24, 2014
By Jackson Webb

AgVenture Yield Specialist Wayne DulaneyDuring the growing season, Wayne (my Yield Specialist) and I are pretty much in constant communication. Here's what he has to say:

"If I haven't heard from Jackson in like two days or something for some reason, I call and say, “Hey are you alright? Is everything okay? What's going on?” And it’s funny, but Jackson gets so upset with me if we have to deviate from the cropping plan. It’s necessary at times, but he does trust me, and I know what to recommend for his farm.

We’ve probably been working together for about ten years now, and at the time I started, Jackson knew more about corn than I did.  I'd never raised a corn crop until I started with AgVenture, so I leaned on Jackson. I learned a lot of things from him just because he was doing a good job.

All together, I don’t think anyone around him has as high APH as he does. Jackson is one of the few I truly rely on. He is my go-to person, when you hear, "Well you can't grow corn behind corn." I say, "Well I've got a customer who's on his 13th year corn behind corn, and we won't take it out because it keeps yielding over 230 bushels each year. When the yields drop off, we’ll rotate it. And he just keeps getting gradually better and better."

- Wayne Dulaney, AgVenture Yield Specialist with Dulaney Seedscropping 

June 27, 2014
By Jackson Webb

I don’t know exactly how many years I’ve been working with Wayne Dulaney, but I would say it’s about 10. Wayne and I grew up together, and our parents are still best friends. And when Wayne got into the seed business, he was mainly selling rice before he got into corn. We were laughing about that today even — Wayne said, “You taught me more about corn in my first two years than I ever knew before.” And it’s funny, because now I depend on Wayne more than anything for all my crops.

From the get-go, Wayne asked if I would give him 40 acres—just 40 acres of beans. I thought there was no way it would do well, but I gave it to him. And sure enough, I did everything he asked me to do, and it did really well.

That same year, we decided we were done with cotton, and Wayne asked me to give him all of my beans on the next crop. Since the 40 acres had done so well, I said yes — and that was the second best bean crop I've ever cut.

The next year, Wayne wanted some of my corn, so I gave him 40 acres of corn, and it out-yielded all of our expectations.

At that point, I decided there might be something to Wayne’s technique. With all their programs and everything they do, AgVenture works really well on our farm, and I attribute it to Wayne's attention and the relationship we have. And we might be friends, but from what I've seen he treats everyone like he treats me. It's not just that we’re buddies.

A Year-Round Partnership

The relationship never stops. It's a year-round process. I don't go pick up my seed and Wayne helps me through the growing season and that's it. It's every day. He comes on my combine and we start looking at stuff. He's right there with me. I really enjoy riding the combine, because I can see what worked and what doesn't; what I like and what I don't like. And a lot of times we're taking notes and talking back and forth: “I don't like this; I do like this; I don't like this.” We’re sending pictures. And when we stop the combine, it's not three weeks later that I'm telling him, “I want this and this and this variety for sure, and go find me others.”

A lot of times he'll come back with practices he wants to try. He knows my farm and he knows my ground. He also knows my management practices. He knows what I can and can't do, so he helps me plan accordingly for that variety. And the varieties may change as the markets change, so it's a constant contact back and forth until February when we finalize.

When I get my seed, he knows he doesn't need to babysit me. If I have a problem, he’s here, but usually he just comes by to check on me. And then throughout the growing season he is constantly looking at how the seed and how it's holding in the ground. Wayne is one of the best agronomists I know. He looks at how the ear is sitting and what it looks like; how it looks on the lower end where the ground is buckshot.

He is using me as much as I'm using him. It's one of those relationships that in business I couldn't do without.

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 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.

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