Be Still

After 27 inches of rain in the last 31 days for some parts of our trade territory, there is nothing like waking up to this forecast earlier this week:

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As we recover from another shower, we wanted to share with you a video from one of our customers, Alan Bays.

Four generations of Bays have used Harvest Land’s service and products, forming a business relationship that spans fifty years. Excellent reliability with fuels, competitive pricing, available purchasing options and a knowledgeable team are all qualities on which the Bays family relies on Harvest Land.

If the name sounds familiar, it should. The Bays were the cover family of our 2012 Annual Report.

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Justin Bays, Brian Bays,  Elle Contos, Bennett Contos and Sarah Contos

Brian Bays once said of the family’s history with Harvest Land:

“With Harvest Land we’ve sustained a very long-term, business relationship that has provided quality supplies and price-competitive opportunities. We’ve consistently had good relationships with Harvest Land employees, and they always strive to provide solutions for our operation.”  -Brian Bays

The Lapel area, where the Bays farm, has gotten the brunt of the 2017 torrential rains. It seems that if a shower hits Indiana, it’s sure to hit their farm.

But, there is still hope.

We invite you to take a look at this inspiring video from Alan, brother of Brian:

We are so proud to be a small part of Bays’ family operation.

 

 

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Save The Date: August 16

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What are you doing on August 16?

Hopefully spending the morning with us!

We invite you to save the date for our 2017 Answer Plot to be held at our Winfield plot in Pershing, Indiana.

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2017 Answer Plot topics include:
  • Nitrogen Management: Lessons Learned in 2017 for Success in 2018
  • Corn & Beans: Finish Strong in 2017, Start Strong in 2018
  • Why Can’t I Kill Weeds Anymore?: Managing with Resistance
  • Are Traits Still Relevant?: Seed Trait Technology
  • Does YieldPro Still Pay?
  • Keynote Presenter: King of Corn, Dr. Bob Nielson
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Harvest Land Agronomist Steve Dlugosz

Our expert agronomy team and Winfield’s top resources will be available all day to ensure you leave in the afternoon with great ways to preserve the potential of every acre you farm.

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Stick around and we’ll buy your lunch!

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Mark you calendar now: August 16, 2017 at 8:30 AM in Pershing.

 

 

 

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Ye of Little Praise

 

There are a lot of variables in businesses such as our’s. We have many different divisions, span hundreds of miles, employ 300+ people, each with different skill sets and responsibilities, and work daily among thousands of moving parts. Oh, and we’re usually running short on time, too.

In our nearly 100 years of business we’ve learned from time to time that if you’re not careful and attentive to details, things can go awry quickly. It is usually in those rare instances that we hear from our farmer-members, as we should. We appreciate the feedback; it makes us better.

Farmers may be considered “ye of little praise” (not to be confused with ye of little faith; there is no greater demonstration of faith than a man planting seeds in a field; but perhaps that is a blog for another week) because they just weren’t brought up that way. In agriculture there are very few pats on the back, few words of encouragement and absolutely no participation trophies. Often the “praise” received comes in the form of a grain check or a milk check, and it’s only then that you know that you’re doing something right.

Though every once in a great while, farmers send written words of encouragement or praise. And those are the ones that you hang onto.

Our CEO received a personally addressed letter on this desk back in February. Of course, though he might be considered one of those ye of little praise, he appreciated the words tremendously and hung on to the note of praise. Fast forward more than two months later and he thought it appropriate to share.



Dear Scott, 

We intended to send you this note at the end of harvest last fall, and here it is the middle of February. 

We were very pleased with the fertilizer application and custom spraying that the College Corner branch provided during the 2016 growing season. It was obvious that Dave Norris and the operators of the sprayers and spreaders were focused on doing a good job instead of covering the most acres in the least amount of time. Bill Curry (who did most of the harvesting) said, “You can tell they took extra care to spray the perimeters of all the fields and were careful of the waterways, too.”

So, we just wanted to let yo know we appreciated their good work and we look forward to their help in the fast approaching growing season. 

Sincerely, 

It was signed by the land owner and the farmer. 

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Despite what the evening news, price at the pump or markets tell you, there is a lot of good going on around us. There are people doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

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Photo by applicator Dave Barbee at our Lena Ag Center

This week we encourage you to refrain from being “ye of little praise” and offer encouragement or sincere thanks to someone around you who deserves it.

Your words may be brief but their impact could be enduring.

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Were You Hired To Do That?

A middle school student, from a town not far from our cooperative headquarters, was given the assignment to job shadow someone working in a field that might interest him down the road.

His top choices for a future career – at age 14 – were

  • a pediatrician (should a student spend their day in a medical office during flu season?)
  • a preacher (he gets weekly insight from this field every Sunday and at youth group)
  • the agricultural field (he chose to spend his day at our farmer-owned cooperative)

I had a meeting with our agronomist and the gentleman that this student was shadowing for the day, our Chief Operations Officer. The three of us discussed plans for an upcoming presentation we are giving at Ball State University, while the student sat in quiet observation. After collaboration over a meal, we engaged the student by explaining to him our individual paths that lead to the current positions we have within Harvest Land.

It was a really valuable conversation. Not only did I learn about the very unique roads my coworkers have taken to get to the successful levels they’re at today, but I also noticed a trend that I think is worth sharing with you.

One employee never went to college, they went straight to into the work force out of high school.

One employee went to a highly accredited 4-year university (after turning down an offer at Notre Dame) and even went on to attain their Master’s.

One employee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a non-agriculture field.

All three were leaps and bounds above the level – both in position and pay – in which they were first hired (one started at $1 an hour – and it wasn’t 1929). All three shared oddly similar stories when visiting with the job-shadowing-student.

All three never turned down a job.
  • Sweeping the shop floor
  • Answering phones
  • Tying feed sacks
  • Mixing chemicals
  • Making the office coffee (which could be comparable to mixing chemicals)
  • Washing trucks
  • Delivering meals to the field
  • Cleaning up after meetings or guests
  • Taking out the trash
  • Sweeping out bins
  • Working in the pit
  • Loading trucks with bagged feed
  • Painting tanks
  • Making parts runs
  • And more

These were just a few of the things these highly successful adults did in their early careers.

“Were you hired to do that?!” the student asked the COO.
“No, I wasn’t. But it needed done.”

What a lesson that can resonate with today’s students about to begin their careers. There is a strange expectation from many who are early in their career that they will get hired into a middle management position and climb the ladder of success by starting on the third rung. Today’s work force doesn’t work that way. The workforce in 2007 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1997 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1987 didn’t work that way. Do you notice a trend?

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What an advantage someone will have if they choose early in life to do the work that needs to be done, whether it was written in their job description, or not. Those who keep the phrase “That’s not my job,” off their lips will have a far greater advantage over those who use it.

Now, this isn’t giving every supervisor across America to take advantage of those who work hard.

But we offer this encouragement to those who want to be successful in their field of choice: If you’re willing to do more than what is expected of you, more opportunities than you expect will come your way. 

work bootsWe believe that farm kids get hired and promoted regularly because they understand that there is work to be done, no matter who does it. They come from a place where 5:00 PM simply means that there is still four more hours of daylight and work ahead of them. They come from a team that doesn’t clock in or clock out – their work begins when the boots go on and it ends when they come off…and then they have to eat dinner with their co-workers.

Farm kids understand that even the bosses have to do the dirty jobs sometimes – – -because they’ve seen their grandfathers use auto steer in the brand new tractor in the same day that they saw him picking up rocks out of the field.

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We encourage those early in their career to take full advantage of the opportunities to do many different jobs – the good, bad, and ugly – when given the chance. Not only will it offer you new experiences, it will expand your skill set and build your character.

And who knows, it might start a really enlightening conversation in 30 years when you’re being job shadowed by an eager middle schooler trying to figure out the world.

Harvest Land Farmer-Member Yields A Win

Can we dote a bit on one of our customers?

Harvest Land farmer-member Bill Mort of Pendleton recently won big with his AG 3334 Asgrow soybeans harvested in 2016. But he isn’t taking all of the credit.

“It was nothing magical we did. Mother Nature was right in there,” said Mort, who has been farming for more than four decades and is the third generation in his family, with the fourth generation on the farm.

Mort raised 85.2 bushels an acre. He was one of two winners from Indiana in the Asgrow national soybean yield contest.mort

“We had the right bean and the right fertility and it just clicked,” Mort said.

Mort purchased all of his beans from Harvest Land in 2016 and went on to do the same for 2017. He also worked with Harvest Land on more than half of his corn acres.

He also utilizes the co-op for his direct fertilizer needs.

He said the weather in his area was almost custom-made for big soybean yields in 2016. While the area saw plentiful rains, the timing made the difference.

“There were farms here that didn’t get planted in 2015 because we had five to six inches of rain. Last year, we had a lot of rain, but it was spaced out and in smaller amounts. It was a perfect storm, and it kicked up the yields in beans. We had average yields in corn, but the beans were exceptional,” Mort said.

Late summer dryness and heat had Mort out checking fields.
“It got dry and hot, and I was concerned. I could see there were a lot of pods, but we didn’t realize what we had. We did a pod count, and we knew they were going to be strong 60s,” he said.
soybean-leavesMort does regular soil testing and advocates for seed treatments.

“I think when you’re planting early you want to do that to keep them safe, especially if it’s cool weather. I think it’s worth it,” he said.

“We started about the middle of April. We bought a vertical tillage tool and ran over some of the ground with that and dried it out to get in there and
plant,” he said.

As to the ability of the Asgrow brand to produce, Mort said he’s a repeat customer.

“I’m going to be planting Asgrow again this year,” he said.

“We enjoy working with Bill out of our Lapel Ag Center,” says Dave Vansickle, Harvest Land YieldPro Specialist. “He is a smart operator and that’s why he remains successful. We’re always glad to see good things happen to Harvest Land customers. This contest is no exception.”
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Early planting. Seed treatment. And always, the weather.

Those are the keys to the record-yield Asgrow beans that winners of the 2016 Asgrow national yield contest raised, with yields in the 100-bushel and 80-bushel-an-acre range.

Congratulations, Bill!

We look forward to working with you

towards a successful growing season again this year . 

 

 

 

Much of this information originally appeared in an  Agri-News article. 

Confused Winter = Opportunity

Have you seen the weather forecast for the week ahead?

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A year ago we wondered if a snow storm might prohibit farmers from making their way to the Winter Innovation Forum (it didn’t, but the way; 700 growers showed up) and this year we wonder if potential attendees may be planting corn.

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Mother Nature is sure playing an interesting card and keeping temperatures above freezing for the next 15 days. The problem with abnormally warm temperatures in February is that people begin to get a little too aggressive on their spring planning and a (very likely still to happen) cold snap could really mess up the best laid plans.

For instance:

crocuses-wallpaper-1343-1474-hd-wallpapersGrandma’s crocuses are coming up and she’s already looking for a reason to begin searching for perennials to plant. Crocuses are beautiful, but seeing them in February means their pretty buds may not make it through the month of March when the cold, true winter weather returns. Additionally, she’s already filled the north end of the dining room table with her garden starts, anxious to get seed in the ground. Now her dining room table only seats 3 instead of six; that’s why you’ll have to eat in shifts.

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Mom already washed and stored all of the coveralls in a wishful-thinking kind of way. She is hoping that Mother Nature is, in fact, a Mother and no mom in her right mind would want to bring out the worn out Carhartts once they’ve been double washed and stored.

 

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While the warm winter weather may seem like a good time to celebrate spring, the truth is that this is an ideal time to get fertilizer spread on your fields. Take advantage of the sunshine and dry days and prepare now for spring’s work load. Spreading fertilizer in February reduces future work load in the extremely busy spring days. Contact your YieldPro Specialist now to take advantage of this window in February to get some of April’s work done.

That way you have more time for other things, such as helping Grandma plant those tomatoes or lugging that 50 lb. tote of clean Carhartts up to the shop loft for your mother.

 

LAST CHANCE!! Register for the 2017 Winter Innovation Forum here

 

The WinField Crop Adventure

Growing up there was one phrase, comprised of only two words, which if spoken was sure to land you in a bad place.

“I’m bored.”

This brief declaration was usually followed by this powerful response: “Oh, I can fix that.”

Mom and Dad were always good for their word.

Picking up sticks or nails, hauling manure via wheelbarrow, sorting the recycling and smashing aluminum cans with a homemade steel tamper, stacking wood, pushing rocks up hills. The list of boredom-prevention exercises goes on and on. One summer morning I recall the hay tedder broke down and we actually tedded an entire hayfield by pitchfork. That was a fun day. A hot one, too.

I never looked at boredom the same way again.

Summer is in full swing and soon – believe it or not – the county fairs will be over and families will have a bit more free time to do some traveling. Ten days at Disney World livestock free, you ask?

Not likely.

However, there is a place that just opened that might feel a little like Disney World to a kid involved in agriculture.

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The Winfield Crop Adventure has officially opened at Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana. This hands-on exhibit is designed to fully engage participants in understanding exactly what it takes to grow food for a population growing quickly to 9 billion people. It’s very likely that the kids in your family “get it”, but this state-of-the-art exhibit is sure to educate and impress even the most seasoned agriculturalists. Yourself, included.

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What can you experience?

  • Meet the farmers who grow your food.
  • Burrow deep underground to see bugs and roots.
  • See and touch the high-tech tools farmer use.
  • Catch virtual raindrops.
  • Imagine the future of modern farming.
  • Discover how corn, soy and wheat improve our lives.
  • Take your picture with your favorite bugs.
  • Learn what soil doctors do.
  • Find the right ag career for you.

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So pack up the kids, or grandkids, or the annoying neighbor kids who have absolutely no idea about food production, and head to Fair Oaks Farms to visit the new Winfield Crop Adventure. Teach everyone a thing or five while getting out of your home area and combatting the “I’m bored” scenario.

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Check out all Fair Oaks Adventures

Oh, and might we suggest a place for dinner on your way home? Culver’s has a fantastic partnership with America’s farmers and they’re actively working to help us tell our story. I highly recommend the double butter burger with fries and a vanilla snickers concrete mixer for dessert, but that may just be the boredom talking.

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Perception: A Game Changer

Perception, as you well know, can change things.

What we see, what we hear, what we believe and how we act.
Perception is a game changer.

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While driving to church Sunday I was surprised to see a family emerge from a field and approach the roadway. I instantly hit my breaks, slowing down to try to process the situation. Did they need help?

It only took a few seconds to realize what was going on: This family was being followed out of the field by a gal with a camera and some props. They were having family photos taken on this Sunday morning. I drove by slowly as they waited for me to pass, and while doing so I scouted the field, which served as the scenic background.

I thought to myself: A weed patch? They chose the middle of a weed patch to get photos taken?

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To me, it looked like a poorly managed field that was over run by butterweed.

To this family and the photographer, it was a field full of beautiful yellow wildflowers, serving as a perfect, bright landscape for spring photos.

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Perception, as you well know, can change things.
What we see, what we hear, what we believe and how we act.
Perception is a game changer.

While we’re not in the business to make photographers work harder to scout the perfect field of “wildflowers”, we are in the business of finding solutions for local farmers to increase yield and profits. One of those ways is to implement a fall herbicide program that burns down weeds long before they even become a twinkle in a photographer’s eye.

Here are points worth remembering to ensure that weeds – such as the beautiful butterweed –don’t rob your yield.

  • All good weed control programs utilize a strong soil residual herbicide, followed by a timely post application when the weeds are still small.
  • Pests that winter in crop fields can make their home in annual winter weeds. Be proactive and use a fall herbicide to prevent the pests from over-staying their welcome during the cold winter months. Your wife’s weird uncle already does enough of that around Christmas! Pests such as black cutworm and soybean cyst nematode are easier to control in the fall by eliminating winter weeds.
  • Seedling corn does not compete well with early-season weed competition. Weeds that reach over 4 inches in height before they are sprayed silently rob yield.
  • Soils warm more quickly where fall herbicides are applied. In fact, studies show that soil temperatures increase by as much as 5 degrees in corn and 8 degrees in soybeans when a residual fall herbicide was applied. This allows for faster planting and fewer delays for customers who exercise a fall burndown program.
  • Maximize your time: Fall months usually provide more days that are suitable for field work. A burndown application applied post-harvest allows farmers to be certain that when the spring weather (finally) arrives they can efficiently use their time  planting the next crop.
  • All good weed control programs utilize a strong soil residual herbicide, followed by a timely post application when the weeds are still small.

I collaborated with agronomist Steve Dlugosz to write this week and he gave the family photo shoot story and the idea of perception a laugh. He remembers watching the music video of John Mellencamp’s Little Pink Houses on MTV and hearing the host remark about the beautiful, giant field of marigolds Mellencamp was dancing in.

Those weren’t marigolds; those were soybeans.

 

Ah, perception.

Potash and Profitability

Indiana and Ohio producers are growing some of the best corn in the states’ history. But it’s important not to get lulled into a false sense of security: 25% of Indiana soils test below the critical level for potassium.

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In the video below Harvest Land Agronomist Steve Dlugosz explains the importance of potash to a grower’s profitability and the three pitfalls to avoid in order to maintain the proper potassium levels needed to reach yield potential.

Contact your YieldPro Specialist to discuss the next steps in
Preserving the Potential of every acre you farm.