GIBBON, Minn. — Despite the Covid-19 crisis curtailing attendance at farm events everywhere, perfect weather accompanied the Beck’s Field Day events in Gibbon, Minn. The Aug. 18 and 19 offering produced sizeable turnouts both days. And if you attended with an inquisitive mind, chances are the talented Beck’s team might have answered every query — plus filling you with a barrage of information about new trends in corn production.
Visual presentations took place in three large tents. There were also five Practical Farm Research tours each day to view scads of corn and soybean variety plots — often with major competing brand names in adjacent rows. (Plus, that much appreciated wrap up: a delicious BBQ lunch.)
I managed to grab a few minutes with David Freidrich, Field Sales Marketing Lead from Beck’s headquarters in Atlanta, Ind. Freidrich was gracious enough to answer a few questions.
The Land: Your presentation was titled, “The post-mortem of modern corn production.” That’s an awesome topic. David, what’s your post mortem?
Freidrich: (chuckling) Perhaps no surprise, our farming friends keep reminding us efficiency is the key. In simple terms, how can we at Beck’s help each farmer be more productive — while also helping reducing his overall costs per acre of crop production. For us, that means a continual source of information and technology to each farmer competing in this global market.
The Land: So where do we start … better nitrogen management?
Freidrich: All the inputs; but recognizing that nitrogen is one of the largest inputs in smart management. However, the more we look at this issue, the more additional elements we are identifying that also need strategy. Needless to say these are ongoing strategies. And that’s the substance of our Practical Farm Research program. We do comprehensive, innovative and practical agronomic research testing on hundreds of farms across the Midwest. Our farmers provide the test grounds; our trained agronomic teams do the inspections and evaluations.
The Land: So far, so good David. But I’m a Renville County corn guy. What Beck hybrid should I plant in 2021?
Friedrich: You cut to the core quickly. That must be because you’re also a farm writer. Here’s my answer: For a farmer to put his best foot forward each year he’s better off planting a package of products. Every acre needs to have the right hybrid on it. And that’s part of the sorting process.
We’ve got what we call our ‘Choice Trial Plots’ which puts Beck’s hybrids next to the number-one and number-two hybrids in the industry. We have dozens of these plots across southern Minnesota this year. Your local Beck’s dealer can be sharing data this fall after harvest for your particular area. And always consider that in this Midwest corn/soybean belt each growing season is subject to variations in weather and other crop challenges year by year.
The Land: What do you see growers having to do to increase their return on investment?
Friedrich: Back to our Choice Trial Plots … these are real measures of genetic value. Key here is that we are a regional company and we select products regionally selected for given production areas. I’m talking soil types, weather histories, etc. We’re examining each product to find out how it works in that particular micro environment. Competition often selects products that work across a larger geography. We select in a smaller environment like specifically for southern Minnesota.
The Land: Last week, Minnesota was predicted to harvest a potential 197 bushels per acre corn crop this year. Believable?
Friedrich: Some of the Minnesota growers I’ve met the past three years impress me as being some of the smartest farmers in the corn belt. And according to our sales team that I met with just this morning, they assured much the same on your anticipated yields this year. Simply saying, shaping up as the best year ever.
Indiana will have an exceptional crop year also. Last year, lots of challenges — starting with simply getting the crop in the ground. But we were blessed with good temps in August and September so were still blessed with good yields; but grain quality wasn’t so great. Lighter test weights and some overall kernel quality measurements not up to par. This year, plant health in both our corn and soybeans crops is good. I really would be surprised if we don’t see a lot of 100-bushel soybeans this year. On corn, highest verified yield in the corn belt was 618 bushels a couple years back.
Going back to your lead question about the future of corn production: simply recognize that information is power. We have to know every square foot of our fields and manage those inputs each grower puts into his soils as efficiently as possible.
Let me wrap up by saying Minnesota growers have really been welcoming to Beck’s Hybrids. We’ve had multiple shows here at this Gibbon location for three consecutive years — plus lots of dealer field days. Just the farming public has opened their arms and welcomed us. Since we’re a family-owned company and with many of our employees also farmers as well, we think like our Minnesota family farmers think. Seems we’ve got a lot in common and it’s a continuing great experience.