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What questions are crop producers asking this season?What questions are crop producers asking this season?

Field shows bring producer questions about the effect of early-spring dryness on yield, prompting more research on mitigating weather extremes.

Curt Arens

September 28, 2023

2 Min Read
Farmers viewing at Beck’s new Practical Farm Research facility near Goehner, Neb. search plots
CHECK IT OUT: Viewing research plots and asking questions of company agronomists are a couple of ways farmers can gain new knowledge from field days and field shows, such as the one hosted by Beck’s at its new Practical Farm Research facility near Goehner, Neb. Curt Arens

When Beck’s cut the ribbon Aug. 3 to officially open its new Practical Farm Research facility near Goehner, Neb., just off Interstate 80, there were plenty of dignitaries on hand for the company’s first field show in Nebraska — including CEO Sonny Beck and several other family members.

Area producers were anxious to visit with Beck and his family members present for the event, to see the research plots at Goehner, and to hear from agronomists about what they are finding out from what has been a challenging growing season across much of the country.

The Nebraska field show was just one of several field shows hosted by the Atlanta, Ind.-based, family-owned seed company at its PFR facilities in Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa and Illinois, along with cooperator sites in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and the Delta region.

Unique opportunities

Part of the attraction of these field shows for Beck’s is to learn from its customers, and to home in research projects engaged at its PFR locations. Trey Stephens, Beck’s Nebraska field agronomist, says that many of the customer questions asked during the recent field show were centered around the early-season dry weather this year and how that might affect yield.

“There was a lot of interest around what studies we can do in the future at our new PFR site in Goehner,” he says. “I think two of the unique things that come to mind about our Nebraska site are wind and irrigation.”

The site at Goehner is not unlike other Great Plains locations, with some extremes in weather and the prevalence of sprinkler irrigation.

“In Nebraska, we face more wind than in most states east of us, and we have a greensnap study where we simulate wind to test a hybrid’s ability to withstand wind,” Stephens says.

Irrigation isn’t common on most eastern PFR farms, so having irrigation at its Nebraska location allows various new studies that are not possible elsewhere within the company, Stephens says.

Dry spring

Dryness and wetness are relative across the country this year, depending on which state you are from, but most of the U.S., Stephens says, experienced a dry spring and early summer, so everyone is trying to understand the impact of those conditions on growth and yield of their crops.

Mitigating crop stress during emergence and grain or pod fill seems to be a common theme across all of the field shows conducted by Beck’s at its PFR facilities this year, he adds.

“These are two of the most critical periods of corn and soybean growth,” Stephens says. “It might be fungicides, biologicals, planting population or row spacing,” he notes, “and it’s great to hear those types of questions because it shows us we are looking at the right things at Beck’s in PFR.”

Learn more about Beck’s PFR results at beckshybrids.com.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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