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  • David Schlake and Steve Wilkens, We're All Ears agriculture podcast guests

    October 13, 2021

    E01: Under Pressure: A Year in Review

    Corn and soybean farmers across the Midwest experienced a range of weather conditions in 2021, from early-season drought to heavy rain throughout the Corn Belt. Farmers also managed various disease, insect and weed pressures, including tar spot, SDS, corn rootworm, soybean gall midge, waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, to name a few. Listen in as Golden Harvest agronomy managers David Schlake and Steve Wilkens speak with Carah Hart about how farmers managed this season’s challenges and what they can expect from harvest 2021.

    Episode Transcript

    Carah Hart: Hi there, folks. Welcome to We're All Ears, a Golden Harvest podcast mini-series that will air throughout harvest 2021. I'm Carah Hart, and I am very excited to be your host for this mini-series. First, let me tell you a little bit about me, then I'll fill you in on what you can expect from this podcast. 

    I’m a Midwesterner through and through. I was raised on a diversified corn, soybean, and wheat crop and livestock farm, and that’s where I found my love of agriculture. I continued that passion at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where I learned even more about this fascinating industry through my degree in agricultural journalism. I currently serve as the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s West Region vice president, and I'm a reporter for the Red River Farm Network, helping farmers stay up to date with the agriculture industry every day. 

    Now, about this podcast: We're going to be with you every step of the way this harvest, whether you're listening while you're in the field or in your kitchen after a hard day's work. We're going to bring you valuable discussions on a wealth of agriculture topics from agronomic challenges to solutions, to ag policy insights, to an inside look at the research, development and production processes that go into creating the corn and soybean seeds you plant every season.  

    This first episode is a great way to start us off, as it is a meeting of the East and West. We'll be joined by David Schlake, Golden Harvest agronomy manager for the West, and Steve Wilkens, Golden Harvest agronomy manager for the East, and they'll walk us through how corn and soybean farmers in their regions overcame the many challenges of 2021, in addition to what we can expect this coming harvest. We're glad you're here. This is We're All Ears.  

    David and Steve, thanks for joining us. Introduce yourselves. Give us some background on who you are and what you do. We'll start with David. 

    David Schlake: Yeah. Great to be on the podcast here today, Carah. So, I'm David Schlake and I'm the agronomy manager for Golden Harvest West, or for our West commercial business unit. I reside in southeast Nebraska, lifelong Nebraska native. I've been with Golden Harvest a little over 15 years, and I work with our agronomists that help support our western business unit. So, I work with the agronomy team in northwest Iowa, western Minnesota, and then North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and then a little bit into Colorado and Texas. And I lead our team of agronomists that is there to help support our customers and resellers and sales reps based in that geography. 

    Carah Hart: Steve, tell us a little bit about you. 

    Steve Wilkens: Yeah, it's wonderful to be here, as well. So, a little bit about myself, is I am David's counterpart, so I would have the same job as him, and I cover our central and eastern Corn Belt. I've been with the company now for about 10 years. It goes by quick, but it's been a great ride the whole way through. I grew up on a fifth-generation dairy farm in eastern Wisconsin. Agriculture certainly runs in our family and runs in our blood, and there's nothing else that I would rather do. So, I've got a lot of appreciation for not just the work that we do, but the growers and stuff that we work with. And it's an exciting time to be in ag. It's an exciting time to be with Syngenta and the Golden Harvest brand. 

    Carah Hart: We all know that Mother Nature brought a lot of extremes this season. Many areas experienced, or are still experiencing, drought this year, whereas others had heavy rain and almost really good growing conditions now. What kind of weather did you see in your regions, and what effects did that have on the trajectory of the 2021 corn and soybeans season? Let's start in the East with Steve. 

    Steve Wilkens: Yeah, 2021, what a year. Right? We look back on it and we certainly started off dry in some areas, but then as we got into the growing season, specifically in my central and eastern area, the rains came and they came in significant amounts. So, while I certainly have pockets of droughts, I also have areas that had way too much water, and that really gave us challenges with fertilizer, fertility management, disease, specifically a disease such as tar spot. So, we've got a good yield over here, but we need to get the crop in the bin as quick as we can because we're going to have some challenges late season if we don't. 

    Carah Hart: What about the West? 

    David Schlake: Yeah. We started off really pretty dry, really across the whole western geography, and we had a lot of places that really stayed that way. And Carah, you would know that well being up in the Dakotas there. We've definitely had places where that drought lingered on and the crops majorly impacted from that. And there's pockets where they did get some timely rain and they'll have some pretty good yields, but there's also definitely parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and then even coming down into parts of Nebraska and Kansas where that drought lingered on and we're going to have some impact from that. 

    Now, we did start to get some rains late. There was some areas where we did get some August rains. We might have some soybean yields that looked pretty good. And of course, there's some pockets where the corn yields will be pretty good as well. But some of that rain came a little late for some of that corn crop, and so we'll definitely have some pockets where the yield might not quite be up to maybe our trendline yields but there is some bright spots out there. And so, it's just probably really variable would be the best way to describe what we're going to see in the West this year. 

    Carah Hart: David, what recommendations do you have for the growers in the western side of the Corn Belt who are still dealing with the effects of the extreme weather conditions, at least as we get through the rest of this growing season? 

    David Schlake: Yeah. I mean, as the growing season wraps up, there's not a ton of things we can do to make up for that, but some of what we can do, though, is we want to make sure that we want to get the crop that we do have out there in the bin. We want to get that harvest in a good, timely manner. And of course, when we're looking at some of these areas where it might be more drought stress, that eventually does start to take a toll on the crop from an agronomic perspective. You're seeing maybe some cannibalization, you saw some disease come in from some of those August rains that are maybe impacting that crop. 

    And so, right now, a grower really wants to get out there, you're going to want to prioritize those fields that you want to harvest first from a stalk quality standpoint or prioritize. We need to get this one out before maybe we have some issues. And so, right now, you want to make sure you prioritize and you have a good plan to your harvest, and that goes for both corn and soybeans. We have some areas, as well, where maybe they saw some different challenges from a soybean side of things for some insects, or maybe they had some disease, and so you want to make sure you prioritize some of those soybean fields as well. So, for both corn and soybeans right now, you want to get a good harvest priority plan in place to help maximize the crop that you do have out there. 

    Carah Hart: Steve, do you have anything else to add to that, especially since your area's essentially almost the opposite of what's happening in the West, or anything to add to that as growers wrap up the growing season and head into harvest? 

    Steve Wilkens: Yeah. I think, to reiterate one of the points is, with us having a little bit too much moisture in some areas, I really need to drive home the point that growers have to be checking specifically their corn for late-season standability with all of the rain that we had that brought a lot of cloud cover. And not only did we leach some nutrients out, but that cloud cover took away good quality sunlight, and that put another stress on the plants. And I don't think a lot of farmers really realize that. We saw this happen a couple of years ago, and that further hampers our stalk strength, and that's just another reason why I think guys are going to be a bit surprised when they go in their fields and they're probably not going to have the standability that they expect they're going to have. And I see that all across the territory that I cover from Missouri all the way over to Ohio. 

    And then, with that added moisture, we have a lot of disease pressure and that inoculum is going to be there for next year. So, if a grower is contemplating a corn-on-corn type of situation for 2022, he needs to start to think about, "How am I going to manage?" In a lot of my area, it would be a Southern rust, it would be tar spot. We saw a huge amount of Northern corn leaf blight. So, there's an opportunity here to get back into the fields and to really understand your disease pressure and how that's going to affect the management practices that you're going to have to implement for 2022, specifically in those corn-on-corn acres that guys want to look at doing. 

    Carah Hart: What are some solutions that you recommend as they get ready for 2022, Steve? I know you said they need to be thinking about it, but get a little bit more specific there. What kind of practices, what things can they be looking at to have a better crop for next year? 

    Steve Wilkens: With the extremes that we've seen in weather, we're seeing a bunch more flash weather events, flash drought, flash heat, flash large amounts of rain, the growers that we work with that are getting back to a 50/50 rotation are really helping set themselves up and de-risk their operations. So, with the amount of pressure we're seeing on diseases and insects in both crops, I'm really asking guys to consider what does a 50/50 corn/soybean rotation look like? Because we have some growers that, believe it or not, plant more beans than corn. We have a lot of growers that plant more corn than beans. But to even that out spreads your risk and not be too leveraged on one side or the other, I think, is something guys really have to look at. So, I'm always starting with rotation, and if I can get a guy to do that, that's a good place to be. 

    If they don't, then we start to go down the list of, "Okay, if you're going have your corn, let's look at your disease triangle, let's match genetics first to your farming practice, and after the genetics, let's look at, okay, what do we need to do from, say, a seed treatment standpoint in soybeans, or a fungicide standpoint, corn or beans?" And we've been preaching a little bit of an unpopular message about actually going back to a two-fungicide pass on some of our crops to help manage these diseases that we're having. I don't think a lot of growers realize, and I'll pick on corn specifically, we've got really quality fungicides in the market, but they last about half of our grain fill period. A 200-bushel corn crop, you're going to get 60, 65 days of grain fill. Well, our best fungicide should be giving us 30 days. So, you still have to be willing to protect the rest of that grain fill period, and growers that do that are winning, the ones that aren't are certainly leaving opportunity on the table. 

    Carah Hart: And David, I know being in the western part of the Corn Belt with you, I know there's a lot of growers in our area that are really thinking about even crop rotation for next year. What if it keeps being dry? I think that's really the big question on the other side. Right? 

    David Schlake: Oh yeah, for sure. And we might even have some areas where a person might feel like, "Hey, I'm in my second year where it's been dry." Of course, it wasn't that long ago in the Dakotas we had the excess rain for two years in a row and then it really switched here this year. And so, yeah, when you think about, "How do I manage two extreme weather conditions?" Or to Steve's points where he's talking about we have all these flash events where extreme weather pops up, how do you manage for that? I mean, it's definitely challenging, Carah. And so, I like to, I guess, always recommend, start out with a good plan, be thinking about your rotation, what your total cropping plan is and how that best fits your operation. 

    But the biggest thing is, because a lot of growers are going to be tied to that corn/soybean rotation, or maybe you have some small grains intermixed in there. Or in a lot of the West, maybe you have to have a pretty heavy corn-on-corn rotation due to livestock. So, when I think about those extreme weather events, you want to control what you can control, and so make sure you stick to a good plan as far as, "What are my operations going to be for fertility and crop protection?" And make sure you have a good plan in place, have everything well thought out. 

    But then, when you're sitting down to make your seed purchases for that next year, focus on hybrids that have really good yield stability. You might have products where they win the plot one year and then they don't win the plot the next year, and that's not the type of products that maybe you necessarily want when you look at all these extreme weather conditions. And so, having a good plan in place and making sure you're working with a good trusted seed partner to help guide you through products with good yield stability that can handle the years when it rains too much or it rains too little. I always go like, we do a good job bringing that, but it really starts with a good plan and having a good trusted advisor to help guide you through that plan. 

    Carah Hart: David, looking back at the growing season, when I think of the western side of the Corn Belt, at least up here in the Dakotas and Minnesota, I didn't hear about much disease. What really stuck out to you? Have you heard about disease in corn and soybeans in other areas in other states? And what did you hear most about this growing season? 

    David Schlake: Yeah. We had a fairly light disease year, I guess, overall, when you think about the whole geography, but there's no doubt we had some pockets pop up. Probably the big one that we're seeing into Minnesota down into Iowa and then even coming into Nebraska this year was white mold on soybeans. We saw definitely increased white mold pressure. Really, it probably expanded out to maybe some of the areas that you traditionally think of white mold affecting soybeans, and so we saw that disease area of impact grow quite larger. And so, white mold on soybeans is definitely one that's top of mind right now. Of course, we continue to see sudden death expand in soybeans as well. It seems like it's pushing north and west into areas that we traditionally didn't see sudden death in. So, those would be two big ones where we're seeing the areas expanding. 

    On the corn side of things, really, for the most part, it was a fairly minimal disease year. We definitely have some diseases out there and we definitely have pockets that are more impacted than others. We did see some Northern corn leaf blight come down maybe a little bit farther south than we normally do. Probably a pretty average year on gray leaf spot. We did see Southern rust come up this year, but not an extreme amount. And of course, we've seen some of that tar spot that is a pretty popular conversation in the East. We saw that push a little bit farther west this year, as well. 

    And so, I guess it's kind of a wide range of diseases, and the biggest thing would be, be out there monitoring, evaluating and understanding what kind of disease pressure you have in your fields. Because maybe some of our traditional diseases are expanding a little bit and you don't want to be caught off guard when maybe that expansion gets a little bigger than you think and then you're surprised by it. And so, really, be diligent to understand maybe what your local disease spectrum is and what a person's seeing locally. 

    Carah Hart: Steve, I know you had issues in your area with tar spot. Tell us a little bit more about tar spot, because I'm not as familiar with that in the western side of the Corn Belt where we're at, and maybe some of our listeners out there may not be, as well. But when did that start, and what causes that? 

    Steve Wilkens: So, that's a great question. Tar spot showed up here a couple of years back and every year it seems to grow and spread across the Corn Belt. So, typically, I'll first look for it in northern Illinois, I would say probably northwest Indiana and western Michigan. That's typically where we see our hot pockets. But this year, we've seen it expand all the way south down to Springfield, Illinois. We've seen it west of I-35 into Iowa. So, it continues to grow and spread well up into Wisconsin and Minnesota, and a lot of what we see is the moisture is what's driving this, wet conditions. One of the best ways that this is spreading, we feel, is through plant residue, which is a bit problematic because even if you keep your fields clean, if you get a big windstorm, and we've had plenty of windstorms last couple of years, it may blow across into yours and now you have a problem and it'll start to spread. And we've actually seen this in a lot of first year corn fields this year, too. 

    So, there's a few ways to help manage it. So far, I think the industry as a whole, certainly us included at Golden Harvest, know that there is a strong genetic response and we continue to look at and evaluate our products and our hybrids, which ones perform better. And we certainly do have some, but we also really like to use that early fungicide application followed by a tassel one to help control it. So, we will continue to learn more about tar spot, but I think what we know now is an earlier app followed by that tassel one is among our best opportunities to control it, or at least to slow it down. I probably have to be a bit careful in using the word control with it, but I think that'll get us ahead of it. So, match genetics along with the right management practice from a fungicide standpoint, and that's been getting us by so far. 

    Carah Hart: Steve, did you see any white mold in your areas of the Corn Belt? 

    Steve Wilkens: Yes, certainly. With the amount of precipitation that we've had, white mold is a big problem in some key areas. And you look at soybeans as a whole, the industry finds themselves launching a significant amount of new genetics in the Enlist E3® soybeans platform, as well as the XtendFlex® soybeans platform. So, there's a huge learning opportunity. A lot of these beans out there probably haven't had the environment to be really scrutinized and understand what the white mold tolerance are. So, we certainly have learned a few things along the way, and I think I'm very proud to say Golden Harvest®, the Gold Series soybeans are going to be really solid in a lot of the key maturities with white mold. But probably more so than white mold, we are still fighting the current problem that we have year and year that seems to grow, and that would be sudden death syndrome. We look back to the spring that we had, early planting, great planting conditions, but it was cold. And then we turned wet, and that's the recipe for some sudden death syndrome to come out. We've certainly seen that this year in pockets as well. 

    Carah Hart: Did you see many insects this year in the eastern Corn Belt? 

    Steve Wilkens: Yes. So, specifically public enemy number one for the last couple of years for, I think, both David and myself has been corn rootworm. That thing is back and in a big way. We spend a lot of our time coaching and working with growers on how to manage corn rootworm. And specifically my area, we've seen it spread into areas we've not seen it in quite some time. So, I've noticed over the years that the flight seems to be happening earlier and extending quite a bit later throughout the year, and I'm seeing a lot more movement north, east and south. 

    So, about 10 days ago, I was in Savoy, Illinois, in a soybean field, and I saw both northerns and westerns. I've never seen that in my career with Syngenta that late that far south. So, there's going to be some problems there in 2022, and that's going to necessitate that growers have conversations with their trusted Seed Advisors around how we're going to manage this going forward. We certainly see CRW is probably the biggest challenge and the biggest need for coaching from any type of insect type platform that I'm going to be talking with growers on over winter and watching for 2022. 

    Carah Hart: When I think of the western Corn Belt, David, I think of the dry conditions, and there were a lot of insects, I know, out West this year. 

    David Schlake: Yeah. I mean to Steve's point, obviously corn rootworm, I mean, it really is the number one insect challenge that we face. We're seeing, really, the high-pressure zone increase. We're seeing rootworm issues into the Dakotas, into Minnesota, and when I'm out with those growers, a lot of times they're actually pretty surprised to realize the level of pressure that they have in their fields. A lot of growers in maybe Nebraska or Iowa, maybe they're a little more accustomed to it, they've been dealing with the pest maybe a little bit longer term, so maybe doesn't quite surprise them as much. But we're definitely seeing an expansion of these heavy pressure areas, and so growers that are planting corn-on-corn, really, irregardless of if you've had an issue in the past, you need to be really diligent because it seems like the issues really catch people off guard or unexpected. 

    And so, whenever you're dealing with corn-on-corn, be mindful of it, make sure you have a really good plan in place. Just using the trait alone, relying on the trait alone, and just planting it, forget about it, really isn't a practical option anymore. A person needs to be mindful of it. They need to make sure they're managing it through multiple methods and they're having really good corn rootworm management practices. And even in our growers in like Iowa or Nebraska or parts of western Kansas where they are more familiar of it, but they need to make sure that they step up their approach and their proactive nature into managing it, as well, because we're just seeing a lot of increased pressure from the corn rootworm side of things. 

    Now, when we transition over to soybeans, this is really an area where you're hearing a lot of talk nowadays, and a lot of that in the West would center around soybean gall midge. First discovered south of Omaha, Nebraska, there a number of years ago, really picked up steam the past few years, and we really see it up and down that Missouri River valley, all the way from St. Joe, Missouri, up to north of Sioux City, and then it spreads out east to west off that Missouri River. And this is a tough one because the land grant universities, whether that's Iowa State or University of Nebraska, they don't quite have a handle on best practices for management right now. And so, a lot of different things out there, there's a lot of good work taking place to help growers best manage soybean gall midge, but there's not a sure-fire management method for it yet. And so, that's kind of a new one that's garnering a lot of talk right now, and it has a major impact on yield, and so it definitely is justified. But that'd be a big one on soybeans. 

    And then something that I'm seeing maybe a little more locally would be soybean stem borer. Started in north-central Kansas probably seven or eight years ago, continued to expand its range moving north by east, and I'm seeing soybean stem borer all the way up halfway into Nebraska. And it impacts the soybean crop by boring into the stem and then eventually boring the bottom of the stem out, causing the soybean to fall over. So, we're seeing the range of that soybean stem borer expand as well. And there's not a good management method outside of timely harvest to really stay ahead of those. And so, there's definitely two new soybean pests that are a little more challenging, and then we need to make sure we stay up on our corn rootworm management, for sure. 

    Carah Hart: And lastly, weeds, which weeds were top threats this year in your area? And this, I think, could be asked, and we can ask of both of you here at once, I think, because weeds are a universal language. Seems like where one's noxious, the other side of the Corn Belt also is experiencing something similar, but correct me if I'm wrong on that. And David or Steve can take a guess at this. 

    David Schlake: Yeah. I mean, we're probably both right in the heart of this. I mean, obviously, the big ones are waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. Those are the big challenging ones. I mean, don't get me wrong, there's other challenging weeds out there as well. Particularly if you move into North Dakota or you move west, there is some other challenging things with kochia and things like that. But definitely the big-ticket item one that seems like affects everybody across the board would be waterhemp and Palmer. Wouldn't you say so, Steve? Even moving east, for sure. 

    Steve Wilkens: Absolutely. I mean, we fight them. And we'll still have our problematic areas of ragweeds, too. I don't want to forget about that. I think it really, it's a real challenge for us in agronomy to continue to work with growers on this because our ability to continue to utilize active ingredients and residual chemistry to control these is getting less and less all the time, yet we see our challenges to control these weeds grow more and more. 

    So, just as David and I were talking about some of the real challenges we have with managing corn rootworm, I think we see the equal challenge in the couple of weeds species. We ask growers to really take it seriousThese weeds become harder and harder to control, and it's a real problematic thing. Because if we're not controlling our weeds, those are also, in effect, harboring insects, too, and so they kind of work together. I mean, they're stealing our nutrients, they're harboring insects and pests, and they're taking away yields. So, weed control is very paramount to high production management systems, and we've got a battle on our hands with two or three species going on right now. 

    Carah Hart: Are there any strategies, David, that farmers can be taking against these weeds in their season prep for next year, especially going into harvest and running a combine through the field? 

    David Schlake: So, really, when it comes to weed control, you have to think about it as it's kind of a long-term battle. And so, I always say that the best weed control in a soybean field is good weed control in the corn field the year before. A lot of times we think about some of these tough-to-control weeds can maybe mean more of a soybean problem, and some of that just has to do with the fact that you see it easier in a soybean field. But good soybean weed control starts with good corn weed control the year before if you're in a 50/50 rotation, and so you want to make sure you have a good program for your corn weed control. 

    And corn, just because of some of the chemistries available in corn, seems like it's a little bit easier of a challenge than maybe soybeans, but just because it might seem easier, or maybe just because you don't see the problem out there, that doesn't mean you can relax on it. So, you want to start with a really good corn program where you have a really strong residual product and that you have a good residual base post-product. And the big thing when you're controlling these tough-to-control weeds is you always want to make sure that you're really spraying ground, not weeds. And so, the best way to control these is through pre-emergence – you don't want to allow them to get up and growing, because once they get started growing, then they're really difficult to control. And so, that's why you want to use overlapping residual products, good products to control the emergence of those weeds in a way to make sure that you don't leave your crop unprotected any time. 

    And then when you are going after weeds post, or after the weeds emerge, you want to spray little weeds. Far too often, once I see them poking up over the beans or whatever, or I can see them down the row of the corn when I'm driving by seems to be one you want to take action. There's really nothing worse than that. And so, you want to spray the weeds when they're less than three inches in height and you want to make sure you have overlapping residual, and that goes for both corn and soybeans. And on soybeans where it's a little more challenging, you might need to have three overlapping residuals: you have an early residual, a residual at planting, and then a residual in crop. And so, you can definitely get good control, but you need to make sure you have a really good plan in place, with good products, with effective, active ingredients, multiple modes of action, and overlapping residuals. 

    Carah Hart: Steve, do you have anything else to add to that? 

    Steve Wilkens: Nope. As David said, if you're spraying weeds, you've already lost the battle a little bit. I mean, the way some of these grow, as aggressive as they are, read your labels, understand your chemistries, and be on your 25-, 28-, 30- whatever day schedule it is, make sure you're getting your residuals down. The easiest weed to control is the one that you never see. 

    Carah Hart: That's a really great tip. Thank you both for sharing that. As we get to the end of this podcast episode, considering all of 2021's challenges, what can farmers expect for their corn and soybean harvest? And let's start with Steve. Steve, how do things look in the eastern Corn Belt? 

    Steve Wilkens: Yeah. So, as we sit here today, Carah, we actually have a fair amount of harvest going on in my southern to central areas, and the yields so far have been very good. And we would have expected that given there was a lot of fungicide used. We are well ahead on heat units. We had overall, a good growing season, and yields are coming through very strong. But as we alluded to earlier, we have a large amount of concern across my entire area, irregardless of company brand or product, of stalk quality and integrity. 

    So, we're encouraging farmers to go out and to get the crop and get it early. We certainly understand that the cost to dry the crop might be a little bit more this year given what LP and the cost of that is. But I feel a lot of our growers have very good yields and we want them to realize that and to go out and to get that crop harvested as soon as possible. And our fear is that if they don't, the later into the season you get, the more standability issues that a farmer's going to likely have as they try to harvest their crops. So, we feel pretty good, optimistic. Certainly, we're going to have people and farms that have record yield performance, and we're very happy about that. We're very pleased with how our products are performing. But time is of the essence and we want to get this crop in the bin ASAP. 

    Carah Hart: David, do you have anything to add on the crop and the western Corn Belt? I know that the big buzz this year has been, will the awesome crop in the East offset some of the challenges in the West? Is it as challenging as some thought it would be to get this corn and soybean crop in the West? 

    David Schlake: Yeah. I mean, so far, we have pretty good weather coming into harvest. Unfortunately, one of the benefits of having a drought is that our corn is drying down a little bit earlier, and so we'll probably see corn harvest maybe start a little bit sooner or soybean harvest start a little bit sooner in some areas. And obviously, we have good field conditions to go out there and harvest right now. And so, we are seeing corn harvest start across Nebraska, Kansas, seeing soybean harvest start in those same geographies. Right now, it's looking like we'll have some pretty good weather to it. For the most part, the crop is holding together pretty well, but we have had some wind damage, particularly South Dakota into Minnesota had some wind events. Saw some smaller events in Nebraska and Iowa. And so, we definitely have some pockets where they're challenged from some of those wind events physically impacting the crop. 

    But right now, we're looking like we have some pretty good weather coming into harvest, and so it just comes down to prioritizing those fields that you want to harvest early and making sure you maybe harvest those before fields where you think, "Hey, this one can stand a little bit longer." 

    Carah Hart: David, Steve, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been such a pleasure to get to chat with you. 

    David Schlake: Yeah. Thanks for having us on. 

    Steve Wilkens: Thank you very much. Enjoyed our time here this afternoon. 

    Carah Hart: That's all the time we have for this episode of We're All Ears. I hope you'll join me in October and November as I have conversations with agronomists, ag policy experts, and more, to discuss all things corn and soybean production.  

    You won't want to miss week two of the We're All Ears podcast where we'll discuss the current state of agriculture markets, trade and policy, and how each will impact harvest and the 2022 season. Make sure you don't miss any new content by subscribing to We're All Ears on your preferred podcast streaming platform. We're on Apple® Podcasts, Google® Podcasts and Spotify®. And remember, just like you're listening, we're listening, too, so if you want to be part of the conversation, interact with us @GldnHarvest on Facebook and Twitter or @GoldenHarvestSeeds on Instagram. Let us know what you think so far. Thanks for joining us in this very first episode of We're All Ears. We'll catch you again next week. Important: Always read and follow label and bag tag instructions. Enlist E3® soybean technology is jointly developed with Dow AgroSciences LLC and MS Technologies LLC. Enlist E3® is a trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. 

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  • Mary Kay Thatcher and Wade Wiley, We're All Ears agriculture podcast guests

    October 20, 2021

    E02: Agriculture Markets, Policy and Trade – Oh My!

    2021 brought much change to U.S. agriculture markets, policy and the trade sector, including a new administration in the White House, a market rebounding from the effects of COVID-19 and new federal policies on pesticide use. In this week’s episode, Mary Kay Thatcher, Syngenta senior lead for federal government relations, and Wade Wiley, head of channel and pricing strategy at Syngenta, join Carah Hart to discuss the current state of ag markets, policy and trade, and how each will impact harvest and the 2022 season.

    Episode Transcript

    Carah Hart: Welcome back to Golden Harvest: We're All Ears, a podcast mini-series airing throughout this 2021 harvest season. My name is Carah Hart, and I'll be your host all season, so start getting used to my voice. Our first episode was a review of the 2021 season, and it was a lot of fun. This week, we're going to discuss how this whirlwind of a year changed U.S. agriculture markets, policies and trade. Today, I'm joined by two special guests from Syngenta, Mary Kay Thatcher and Wade Wiley, to talk about the latest agricultural updates from Washington, D.C., and how these will impact harvest 2021 and beyond. It's great to have you. This is We're All Ears.

    Thanks for joining us, Mary Kay and Wade. Would you mind introducing yourselves, telling us a little bit about your background in the agriculture industry? We'll start with Wade.

    Wade Wiley: Sure, Carah. My name's Wade Wiley. I'm the head of pricing and channel strategy for Syngenta Seeds. I'll tell you a little bit about my background. I grew up on a small farm in the southeast part of Indiana. That doesn't make me a Hoosier because I'm a Boilermaker, but throughout my career, I've worked on a large hog farm after I graduated from college, worked within ag retail for five years. I owned my own business back in '96 to 2001. It was precision agriculture. We did a lot of yield mapping and soil sampling. In 2001, I joined the seed industry, worked as a genetic supplier, and then in 2010, I worked for another seed brand up until last year when I joined Syngenta Seeds.

    Mary Kay Thatcher: Thanks, Carah. My background isn't as good as Wade's. Right after college, I thought I'd come to Washington for two years and go back home to Iowa, and I never made it, so I've been working on Capitol Hill and in one of the administrations, lobbied for the American Farm Bureau for 31 years, and then came to Syngenta about three and a half years ago.

    Carah Hart: For those of you that are just meeting the folks that we are visiting with today, Mary Kay Thatcher is like the guru for all things policy, so I know we're going to have a great conversation today. Let's get right into it. What can you tell us, Wade, about the current state of the corn and soybean markets?

    Wade Wiley: Well, Carah, it's always fun to talk about corn and soybean markets when the markets are great, right? At the time we're recording this podcast, corn is in that $5 range, and beans are in that $12 range. Who would have guessed that a year ago that we would be talking about strong markets, back in the early part of 2020? But since August of 2020, it's been a bull market, and it's been a lot of fun. Farmers are pretty optimistic about their net farm income. A lot of times, I look at the Purdue Ag Economy Barometer, and last month, it increased. And the reason why the sentiment is increasing is because the optimism for the net farm income by farmers.

    But also, farmers are concerned on several fronts. One is rising input costs. But on the other side, you've got low interest rates, and along with the strong prices, the contribution margins for farmers are really, really good. A lot of income was driven in 2020 from government payments, and in '21, it's coming from these strong prices.

    There are some challenges that are out there within the marketplace and shortages of products with supply. It's not all related to COVID. We had a hurricane back in August, and when you start to think about the nitrogen prices far as this next year, we had some plants that are shut down. Some of them are shut down due to the hurricane. Some of them are closing up a little bit for the high natural gas prices. And so when you take a look for farmers, you can probably guess maybe about 15 more cents per pound in the bin, far as within our cost for '21 versus '20, so that's going to drive maybe some different behavior, far as when farmers think about what crops that they might plant in 2022.

    Carah Hart: Does that mean we could potentially see more of one over the other when we talk about corn and soybeans?

    Wade Wiley: Possibly. If nitrogen prices stay high, farmers might be thinking about more beans. With the great income, farmers are also going to be thinking about where they can spend some money by the end of the year. And there are some challenges there, too. If you can't get products like tractors and combines because maybe there's a shortage on chips or rubber or steel or plastic for the ag manufacturers, it's going to be a challenge to see where farmers might want to spend their money.

    Mary Kay Thatcher: And I think, Wade, to add to that, certainly one of the ways that we make sure we have good farm income is to have really good exports. And we're projected by USDA to have the best export year we've ever had. Certainly China is a big part of that, and I know we probably spent a whole lot more time in 2020 talking about China and the fact that it didn't look like they were going to make their phase one trade agreement commitments than we have this year. But things are, for agriculture in the China phase one are going really well. We don't have numbers yet for the end of July, but as of the end of June, we were 90% at where we should be in those exports to China. And when you got $5 corn and $12 beans, it's a whole lot easier to make that commitment than it is when prices are low.

    But things look good. Besides continuing to have really good soybean exports to China, we're going to have the highest ever corn exports to that country and the highest ever wheat exports. And certainly they've had some falling stocks, and so that has made a difference, and the fact they had African swine fever and they're trying to rebuild their pork market, so it's all good. But to put a little bit of perspective, last year, I think we exported slightly above 27 billion to China, and that was a record, and we're going to be awfully close to 40 billion this year, so that is pretty darned amazing.

    Carah Hart: Thanks for adding that in, Mary Kay. Those are really great things to think about. Actually leads into ... Or I was hoping we could talk about next. And we know in last week's episode, we talked about the 2021 growing season, what kind of corn and soybean harvests Midwestern farmers can be expecting. And based on harvest expectations and international demand, Wade, I wondered what would you say that we're currently in? Are we in a supply market or a demand market when it comes to the corn and soybeans?

    Wake Wiley: Well, Carah, I really believe we're in a demand market. But first, let's talk about supply. Just to start, farmers are rolling now. I think we're about 10% completed at harvest within some states and the further southern states are maybe about two-thirds of the way through, so we're getting in some reports. And just talked to a farmer this afternoon, and his report was, "I'm pretty excited about my soybeans. They're yielding better than what I expected, but my corn is yielding less than what I expected." I'm starting to maybe hear that as a theme.

    One of the things that I think about that we have such high expectations for corn and low expectations for beans that farmers are getting surprised. There's a lot of variation this year. It's been dry within the West, up in the North, and we've had a lot of rain as far as within the East. But when you think about in Indiana, in some places, we had a long stretch of some dry weather that probably took the top end off some of this corn.

    When you look in Illinois and some other places, there's a disease called tar spot that's taken some top end off as well, but the USDA came out with their WASDE report in September, and they raised the expectations for corn yield up to 176.3, so the USDA is thinking positive about corn. There's been 23 times since 1970 that the USDA has raised the yield expectations from August going into September. In 17 of that 23 times, the final number increased for corn versus the September report, so we're in a situation now, I guess that's three-quarters of the odds that maybe that yield number could go higher. There's some modeling out there to suggest it could be a 178, but yields are really hard to determine, and the combines don't lie.

    On the soybean side, the USDA raised their number in the September report to 50.6 bushels per acre. That's up six-tenths from the August report. But there's been 26 times, and during that same time period in 1970, where the USDA has raised the August number up higher in the September report. But it's kind of a flip of a coin. 54% of that time, the final number for soybeans in January was higher than the September number, and 12 times, it was lower, so it's going to be really hard to tell. But yields so far have been good. I think farmers are pleased.

    But getting into your question, I believe it's a demand market. The corn-to-soybean ratio has been low, and it really supports the current prices. And one could argue that prices maybe should be higher with the corn-to-stocks ratio number. But we need to see the export sales materialize at the pace that the USDA has booked within our balance sheet. And when it comes to corn, Mexico and Japan are our buyers, right? Those are very important customers. And for that reason, I believe we're in a demand market because we're waiting to see some of those exports really materialize within sales.

    Some people talk about we need to ration demand, but it's hard to want to ration demand until you see the export sales come through. We've also got some several threats, as far as on the demand side. African swine fever was just confirmed in the country of Haiti, and that's getting closer to the U.S. And so we need to keep that out, and that's very important for our pork farmers and also our grain farmers. And there's talk about ethanol. Some changes with the mandates. And the ethanol is very important to the ag community and very important to farmers, and so we need to encourage our friends in D.C. not to lower those mandates.

    Carah Hart: Well, thanks, Wade. And that segues into possibly tying into farm policy here. Let's switch gears to Washington, D.C. We welcomed a new president to the White House in 2021, and along with that came new leaders. We have a new administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan. Mary Kay, what can you tell us about EPA Administrator Regan and what he's done so far as head of this agency?

    Mark Kay Thatcher: I think he's certainly been open to agriculture's viewpoint, which isn't always true when you get an EPA administrator, so we appreciate that. I think we have some concerns. Probably on the top of farmers' minds is Waters of the U.S., or the new Navigable Water Protection Rule, and we do know that EPA is going to roll that back. I think he's been very clear he's not going to take it clear back to Waters of the U.S. He understands that farmers and ranchers need some certainty. They need transparency. So I suspect we'll be somewhere in the middle of between WOTUS and the Navigable Waters Protection Act when we get that all through. I think he also sees the importance of hurrying up and getting it done. And he talks about wanting to have it be durable so that it withstands whatever administration comes in next and whatever the courts say. And boy, I hope he can do that. That's a pretty lofty goal, but that would be wonderful.

    On ethanol, I think he's been less of a friend to agriculture. Certainly everything that's gone wrong in the ethanol industry lately can't be attributed to EPA because the courts haven't necessarily been friendly to us either. But we've heard some rumblings in the last few days about him actually lowering the renewable volume obligations for 2019, for 2020, 2021. That's a huge deal. We have not made as much progress in getting them to overturn some of the small refinery exemptions. And if I just look at four years, Carah, you're talking about giving up corn produced for ethanol at the same rate of how much corn you have in the state of Minnesota, so it's a big, big deal.

    And then I would say, last but not least, we've got questions out there about pesticides. We've seen chlorpyrifos is going to go to the wayside. There's been a lot of discussions about glyphosate. And we know that we continue to have major problems with the Endangered Species Act and how it overlaps with pesticide registrations, and so that's something we're going to have to spend a lot of time on. We're going to have to make sure that we don't lose some very valuable pesticides in this country.

    Carah Hart: Mary Kay, circling back to some of what we just talked about here happening at the EPA, that Waters of the United States rule rewriting that's happening right now ... What's the timeline? Do you know? To have something in place.

    Mary Kay Thatcher: I think we'll start seeing something later this fall, say November, et cetera, and then we'll see another iteration probably next year. They did go out, and they had comments on what was happening. Again, I think this administrator has been very fair about meeting with, and his people meeting with, both sides on this issue, so I think we'll see something later this year still before December and then something else next spring, hopefully.

    Carah Hart: And while these new leads of these agencies are really important to the policy that happens within the administration, also their supporters, their team that they have working behind them, too. Mary Kay, it sounds like the EPA still has a few key people that need to be named that would maybe have a little bit more influence on some of these key policy measures we just talked about.

    Mary Kay Thatcher: Well, they do. And EPA isn't the only one. Carah, there's about 4,000 people, first of all, that are political appointees throughout the government that get changed every time a new president comes in. But there's about 750 or 800 of them that are really key people, people you think of like the undersecretary for research at USDA or the USTR ag trade rep, et cetera. And this administration only has 131 of those 750 or 800 of them confirmed, so a lot hasn't happened because those folks aren't in line, and you get a lot of career staff. They don't want to raise their head too high and do anything controversial because when a new political comes onboard, they want to still have a job.

    There's a couple of positions that are really key that I think would be important to fill. One of them is Elaine Trevino, who was just named within the last 10 days or so as the new ag ambassador at the U.S. Trade Representative office, and that's great. We certainly needed somebody over there focusing on ag, if not for new trade agreements, certainly for enforcement of current ones, problems like we're having in Mexico, et cetera. And then troubling is we still don't have anyone named as the undersecretary for trade and foreign ag over at USDA, so you get that one-two punch going, and you can make a real difference.

    Hopefully, both of those will happen really soon, but there's a lot of people just not at home. And then of course, you have COVID. And the federal government's still pretty much closed. I bet if you went to USDA on any given day, you'd find maybe 30 political appointees there and not a single career person out of the thousands that work there.

    Carah Hart: It's definitely a lot to take in. And I think patience is definitely needed as that administration fills those remaining positions for sure. And I wondered, Mary Kay, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is one at USDA that a lot of people in agriculture welcomed back because he was a familiar face. But he is really knowledgeable in all sorts of ag policy. And I wondered, with some of the challenges we're seeing at the EPA, would there be any way for Vilsack to be involved in any of that? Do you think he is involved in any of that? Encouraging the EPA to think positively on biofuels for example?

    Mary Kay Thatcher: Oh, I think absolutely. Having Tom Vilsack back is a real plus to the ag industry. Eight years of serving in that position before and then with the Dairy Export Council, so that he really did see up close some of the trade problems, and he knows how to address those. That's a great thing. But I think he plays early and often. Whether we're talking about things like FIFRA, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, and pesticide usage and endangered species, he's been very helpful to farmers trying to work with EPA there. He talks frequently about trade issues over at USTR. He's talked about, certainly probably more than anything else, ethanol at EPA, so he's definitely got farmers' backs and I think working on this. But again, you got, I think, four political appointees in the secretarial level, i.e., the undersecretary, the secretary, the deputy secretary, those, out of like 16 people over there. It's just incredible. One person can only do so much.
    Carah Hart: Absolutely. And we know another topic on many farmers' minds is succession planning, the process of passing down the family farm to a new generation. Wade, tell us, what implications do you think these recent ag policies have on farmers and ranchers?

    Wade Wiley: Yeah, Carah. And farmers, and growing up on a family farm, I'm very passionate about farms staying within families. And a lot of people outside of agriculture think about farms as corporations. But within agriculture, the vast majority of farms are family farms that just happen to be corporations. I always like to say, though, the death of a family farm is a result of not having a succession plan, so it's really onto ourselves as farmers to make sure that we have succession plans. There was some ag policy that's being talked about within this new tax bill that both sides of the aisle came together to get it removed so far. We haven't quite seen the final tax bill yet, but it's a stepped-up basis. And that's a huge victory for farmers and all small businesses that are family-owned across the U.S.

    Mary Kay Thatcher: And, Wade, that's exactly right. And were it not for farmers and ranchers being really vocal about those topics, I think they very well could still be in that $3.5 trillion package. But we did miss the bullet on both stepped-up basis, and there was a lot of talk about the loss of in-kind exchanges, which would've been difficult. But there are still things in that tax bill that are troubling. The section 2032 use valuation where you can get your land valued at the value that you farm it at versus the value that somebody from the local urban community might pay for it is important. But that's also limited. It's limited to only your offspring. So it's not like, okay, I can give it to a cousin. There's a lot of problems in there.

    And there is a capital gains tax increase from 20 to 25%. And I think we are out of the woods. But I would tell you, I'm concerned in that Ron Wyden, who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee there, the committee that's responsible for these taxes, has said, hey, I might want to put in a new kind of tax exchange where we pay the capital gains tax every year, regardless. Those harmful things are still out there, so farmers can't sit back on their laurels quite yet. But the other thing that I would make sure that people think about is that there isn't a chance, period, that $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill for human infrastructure is going to pass. Joe Manchin has already said he'd only do 1.5 trillion, so what happens is there's less assistance that goes out when you go from 3.5 to 1.5, but that also means fewer tax increases have to take place.

    Carah Hart: Sounds like there are a lot of unknowns here as we continue in October here and move along, and it'll be interesting to continue to watch what happens in that arena.

    Mary Kay Thatcher: And Carah, maybe the end of the year. Some people are talking about let's push the debt limit off till December 3rd. Well, that just means they're going to be here... We know they'll get it done then because when it comes close to Christmas, they want to go home and be with their families. But it could mean that we hassle with these budget issues the next three months of the year.

    Carah Hart: We've seen some pretty interesting things happen in December. Farm bills have been made and signed in December. December can be a pretty magic month.

    Mary Kay Thatcher: I can remember working on a farm bill on December 23rd and wondering if I was ever going to get to go home.

    Carah Hart: Well, I'm eager to see how this conversation continues. Thank you for that answer. And finally, let's transition here to a topic that's been widely discussed in Washington, D.C., and of course, across the Midwest this year. Dicamba. What's the latest, Mary Kay, in terms of dicamba policy?

    Mary Kay Thatcher: Well, just very, very recently we had good news out of EPA Administrator Regan who said that farmers are going to be able to use dicamba in 2022. And I think that was very much up in the air. There were a lot of new rules that were put in place for use this year. Bigger buffer strips, earlier cutoff dates, less ability to get Section 24(c) exclusions, et cetera. There were still, unfortunately, some complaints that came in. You look especially at a state like Arkansas, quite a few complaints, so no doubt EPA is still looking really, really hard at dicamba. And while I think it's a sure bet from what the administrator said the other day of use for 2022, I think it's far from sure after that.

    Carah Hart: What do farmers need to know now as they look at making those kinds of product purchases for next year?

    Mary Kay Thatcher: Oh, I don't know. I'm not hearing anything as of today about changes in labeling or any of those kinds of things. I think they could come about. I know there is going to continue to be pushes on that, but I haven't heard any specifics whatsoever.

    Carah Hart: Thank you. And Wade, did you have anything you wanted to add on marketing? Is there anything else you'd like to say as we wrap this conversation up?

    Wade Wiley: Well, I think that dicamba issue out within the countryside is very emotional, right? Choices are very important for farmers, and U.S. farmers need choices. But they also want to be good neighbors and great stewards. And when you take a look at the dicamba situation, it's been a hot topic for several years. But the farmer needs some certainty far as going into next season. The sales season has kicked off, and without a product, which I don't think will happen, but with the label changes, the farmers need to know what the EPA is thinking so they can make their decisions for 2022.

    Carah Hart: Well, Wade and Mary Kay, thank you so much for joining me on this very informative conversation on Golden Harvest: We're All Ears podcast. We'll release new episodes every week through November. Watch out for our third episode, where we'll take a look at the corn and soybean production in South America. We'll also hear from a climatologist about the 2022 season weather outlook. You won't want to miss it, so subscribe to We're All Ears on your preferred podcast streaming platform. We’re on Apple® Podcasts, Google® Podcasts, and Spotify®. And remember, just like you're listening, we're listening, too, so join in the conversation and interact with us at Golden Harvest on Facebook and Twitter or Golden Harvest® Seeds on Instagram to tell us how you liked this episode. Thanks for listening to We're All Ears. Join us next week for episode three.

    Always read and follow label and bag tag instructions.

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  • October 27, 2021

    E03: A Look Below the Equator and a Look Ahead to 2022 Weather

    South America is a major contributor to the global production and trade of corn and soybeans. Listen in as Lynn Sandlin, Syngenta business intelligence manager, joins Carah Hart to discuss the 2021 South American corn and soybean production season and its impact on U.S. corn and soybean farmers. Stay tuned until the end for a conversation with Eric Snodgrass, current science fellow and principal atmospheric scientist at Nutrien Ag Solutions, about the 2022 U.S. growing season climate and weather events outlook.

    Episode Transcript

    Carah Hart: Hi again, and welcome back to We're All Ears with Golden Harvest, a podcast mini-series airing through harvest 2021. I'm Carah Hart, and it's a pleasure to be with you today. In this episode, we're traveling away from home below the equator all the way to South America.

    South America is a major contributor to the global production and trade of corn and soybeans. We'll take a closer a look at South American corn and soybean production and what implications this has for corn and soybean farmers in the United States. Our first guest today, Lynn Sandlin, Syngenta business intelligence manager, will fill us in on the details. And a little later we'll be joined by Eric Snodgrass, the current science fellow and principal atmospheric scientist at Nutrien Ag Solutions, and a former director of undergraduate studies in atmospheric science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, to discuss all things climate and weather for the growing season. It's great to have you. This is We're All Ears.

    Hi Lynn, and so much for joining us. To start us off, tell us more about who you are and what you do.

    Lynn Sandlin: Thanks Carah. And first, it's great to meet you and talk to you today, and also to have the chance to meet with all the farmers that are joining us out there in harvest this year.

    Well, my name is Lynn Sandlin and I'm the business intelligence manager at Syngenta and specifically I lead the area for Syngenta in the U.S. in business intelligence. In this area, we focus on market intelligence, such as major row crop markets like we're talking about today, corn and soybeans, but we also dig into other crops as well that are important in the U.S. and around the world, such as cotton, rice, potatoes and other crops we dig into and focus about their planted acres, their harvested acres. We look into pricing and cost of production, and we also monitor the overall ag landscape.

    And the reason why we do that is really to focus in on key insights that we can provide timely insights to our leadership with Syngenta in our short-term and long-term plans. And if you think about this year, when we're thinking about supply, demand and making sure the product is at the right place at the right time, our information or insight has become very valuable to help our leadership out in marketing and sales, also in supply chain.

    But at the end of the day, our insights are to aid us as a company to better understand the farmer, and to make sure that we're working as hard as we can to put them first in all the decisions that we make.

    Carah: Lynn, let's take a quick look back South America in the last year or so. What are a few things that stick out to you in terms of, of where they're coming from as we kind of gear up for this year?

    Lynn: Okay, great question by the way. And boy, there are some topics, right?

    So if we look back throughout here, we are in, in October in 2021, and we look back this last harvest year from planting to harvest in South America. Well, those farmers down there are faced with some of the issues that our farmers in the U.S. faced with and that being Mother Nature, right? They had a La Niña year that we also saw in the Northern Plains and on the West Coast, but it really challenged them in South America, not from the stand, not only from the standpoint of getting harvest out, cause you may recall back, they’re harvesting soybeans back in February and March and all the way, a little bit into April. And they really had a lot of wet weather, especially in Brazil. They were just dumped with rain in that northern east central soybean growing area.

    So that really delayed their harvest. It challenged their yield in getting it out, but then it really brought about that second crop, or what they call safrinha corn, second crop corn crop to be very delayed in planning. And because of those delays, they were behind over 20% in getting the crop put in, but it delayed them then in the ability to max that out their yield. So they had a lower yield crop. Now, not only that happened there, but we had dry weather issues in Argentina, which Argentina and Brazil, as you know, are the two largest countries in South America, exporting crop out, principally corn and beans. And then on top of all these weather issues, I just mentioned in both countries, they not only had those issues to deal with, but they also had some governmental issues because for a period of time in Argentina, they had the government had implemented export restrictions.

    So they couldn't even export soybean meal out or corn out. And then Brazil had challenges with timely exporting weather-related. But quite frankly, a lot of it related to what we are all in the world dealing with this COVID pandemic. So they were having boats sitting in the water for weeks on end, trying to get loaded out. They were short-staffed, they had docks shutting down due to COVID restrictions and COVID outbreaks. So like a lot of the things we're talking about today around the world, at the end of the day, South America in 2021 had a lot of challenges in getting the crop in, getting the crop out. But I will have to go ahead and say this, while all those factors were out there, they still brought in a really large crop. Now corn was down, but their bean production was pretty well on pace, but it's really setting them up for what the future may hold for us.

    Carah: What does production total production look like for South American corn and soybeans this year based off of what we know so far?

    Lynn: Well, let me start with corn saying that corn is down slightly, this year down probably less than 10%, but down from where we've seen in the past. Soybean production overall is slightly up single digits.

    But overall, when you look at the total global market around corn and soy, the overall global stocks have tightened up totally. Part of that is due to the challenges in the U.S. from last year into this year. And then of course in South America, their challenges in Argentina and Brazil with both corn and soybean crops. So the overall global stocks have tightened up because that's what's really brought about this price increase over the last couple of years that we've seen in corn and beans. It's really got folks excited about that, what the future holds for us with corn and soybeans.

    Carah: While corn and soybean farmers here in the U.S. are busy harvesting our crops, those corn and soybean farmers in South America are already starting to plant for next year. What is the South American corn and soybean production outlook so far for 2022?

    Lynn: Wow. If I look at my crystal ball of market intelligence, what we're hearing or what we're learning from our analysts and our folks on the ground in South America is that over the last few weeks, Brazil has had really nice moisture. So they've got good planting conditions going on right now. And they are planting a lot.

    There are expectations that on soybeans, they may in Brazil alone hit 98 to 99 million acres of planted soybeans, which would be a new record for them. They're looking at probably in the 50 to 51 million planted acres for early crop and second crop corn in that neighborhood, which would also be another record. Argentina right now is facing some dry weather issues, but they are working on getting crops in the ground as well if all completed, but they need some moisture. Quite frankly, I think the real topic here, when we talk about what's going on in South America is what's happening in Brazil.

    Brazil is rapidly trying to grow their acres. They will be the number one soybean country again in the world this year for the ‘21-‘22 market year. And honestly it looks like at least according to some recent analysis out of Brazil, showing that, you know, possibly over the next 10 years, because we need to be looking next year and forward, that they could probably increase their row crop acres potentially by up to 40% over the next 10 years, which is dramatic.

    Now I understand for that to take place, they got to have funding to develop those lands, got to improve their infrastructure. They also need ultimately government support in light of environmental concerns in Brazil to develop additional acres. One thing we do know is if they develop those acres, they will stay in production, and they haven't had a history of showing shifting acres back once they move it into production.

    So it is really important for our American farmers to be aware of what's happening in South America, how the crop is changing and how they're look at increased acreage. Just like what we have here, we want to grow the best crop possible and they do as well. So they'll be looking at intensifying, their management of their crop in the years to come.

    Carah: Lynn, when I think of South America, and I think of the competitiveness between South America and the United States in terms of corn and soybean production, I think of the one factor being infrastructure. And I wondered, what improvements have you seen in that infrastructure piece in South America? Should we be concerned or pay closer attention to that piece?

    Lynn: We hear a lot of rumble rumors about, well, there's going to be a train system to go from east to west, going from east Brazil across the mountains, over to the Pacific Ocean. That may not be in my lifetime. However, they are improving rail structure dramatically. They are working on their roads and definitely this year they were able in some places to move the crop to market sooner than later. I think the big question that's in South America is when you talk about infrastructure, it's got to be from the field all the way to the port, meaning not only roads and rail, but then what do you have for port storage? What do you have for owned farm storage? And if you move into all those areas, they are still significantly years behind, but it has to be something that in the U.S. that we are cognizant of, aware of, and are monitoring, because they will be game changers as we look at soybean production in years to come.

    Carah: Lynn, I'm just curious. Do you know how long it takes for corn or soybeans to go from, from the, the field to, to the port at all in, in South America?

    Lynn: I honestly can't put an exact day on it. I know in some cases we've seen, first of all, it depends on if you're in the eastern states, it's going to be a lot closer than if you're in the far western corner of Mato Grosso, which could take somewhere between 60 or 70 days or more. And we've got some places I've even heard it could take a hundred days to get it to port, and I've heard of others that it can take only about 15 to 21 days.

    Again, rail versus road, depending on weather and depending on availability of trucking firms to move it. I think one of the big things that happens every year in Brazil and in Argentina, which varies different than the United States, is when we see driver or truck driver strikes, and we see port strikes and all those bring about delays. I know that back earlier this spring, when they were to be loading out boats for soybeans to go to China at one time, there were over 30 different boats sitting in the water outside of Brazil waiting to be docked and get loaded. Now we can all relate to that right now, because just a week ago, there were over 60 boats sitting off the coast of Los Angeles waiting to get unloaded, right? Probably got your Christmas present in it or mine. But at the end of the day, they are still struggling with their overall infrastructure. But I can promise the U.S. farmer, they will work to improve it and they are improving it every year.

    Carah: Taking into consideration the ‘20-‘21 South American growing season, knowing how planting is going so far for 2022, what else does this mean for U.S. corn and soybean farmers? Is there anything else they should be keeping their eyes on?

    Lynn: Well, I think it's important for the American farmer to remember if I could say three things, just sort of like the old milk stool adage, there's three legs, right? And that is, and the first one is, remember that within the global world, that there are three major export markets. There's North America, there's South America, which is principally Brazil and Argentina, and then there's the Black Sea area, the Ukraine, Russia, and that area. Monitor those three areas, because what happens in those three areas will dictate the pricing and movement globally of grain and oilseeds. Other countries export market? Absolutely they do, France does, other countries do, but at the end of the day, those three markets drive the global market. The other thing to remember, and this is something Carah we've chatted about before, and that is what's the cure for high prices.

    Carah: High prices, Lynn.

    Lynn: Yeah, because when we have high prices and we've been blessed with that for the last 18 months or more, we have, we see a lot of run up in grain and oilseed acreage in other countries. Everybody wants to get in on the game. The good news behind that is no one in the world produces the quality crop that the North American farmer does, whether it's canola in Canada or corn in the U.S. And the third and final thing to remember out there is that we are now living in a new dynamic due to COVID, due to supply chain, due to inflation overall. So farmers this year, now the third and final leg is more important than ever before, is to have a sound marketing program. The U.S. farmer is by far the best of agronomist, there is out there and growing her crop, but he or she has to have a really good marketing plan to maximize their profit opportunity in this developing 21-22 crop season. So that's the take-home point I would have.

    Carah: And I wonder rolling with the punches too, a little bit, being able to adapt well in your business and management plan, too.

    Lynn: Absolutely. Being flexible, the ability to flex right now that we're talking about, quite extremely high fertilizer prices. When's the tipping point that you as a farmer, decide to shift acres from a highly intensive fertilizer crop to one less intensive? Or when is the right time to pull the trigger on prepaying and buying inputs for next year and get it at a position to where you can manage it and handle it to maximize your crop opportunity in ‘22.

    Carah: Lynn, thank you so much for your time and your expertise today. It's been so good to have you on the podcast. Next up a 2022 weather outlook conversation with Eric Snodgrass, current science fellow and principal atmospheric scientist at Nutrien Ag Solutions and a former director of undergraduate studies in atmospheric science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Welcome, Eric. Please tell us more about your background in climate science and agriculture.

    Eric Snodgrass: Yeah, so I taught at the University of Illinois for about 15 years, and along the way started a couple of small companies where I was trying to use what I was learning about weather and predictive sciences to help businesses make decisions. And along the way, I got knee deep in agriculture, primarily due to the 2012 drought. That was one of the big things that pushed me to doing better prediction and had an opportunity when Nutrien purchased my companies to go full-time with them. So since 2019, I have been a science fellow, that's what they call me at a Nutrien Ag Solutions, and I get to do a lot of forward-facing product development for our customer growers. And it's a lot of fun to predict the weather for them.

    Carah Hart: Well, we can't wait to have this conversation with you. And before we dive into the weather outlook for 2022, let's take a look back at the major climate events that farmers saw in the field this season. And Eric let's start with the eastern Corn Belt.

    Eric Snodgrass: Yeah, the Eastern Corn Belt had a decent go of it early in the season. And then, to be honest, even though there were a few time periods in eastern Corn Belt, specifically in Michigan and Ohio and Indiana, where things got really dry, by the time we got to the end of June and into July, it just started raining. Which means when you look at the whole of the growing season of eastern Corn Belt, you're not going to see, you know, you look at the big statistics that they were overly dry. It also wasn't hot there much this year, either. And as a consequence, most folks in eastern Corn Belt will tell you that this past 2021 growing season was kinder to them than these seasons in the past. I think yields are going to look pretty good in the eastern Corn Belt.

    Carah Hart: And harvest is well underway. Or at least it is as of early October, and maybe wrapping up sooner rather than later.

    Eric Snodgrass: Yeah. Because they got all the heat that they needed at the right time. And we've not had any major early frost and there's been some decently open harvest windows. Now they've been shut at times here at the very end of September, beginning of October, but it's not like we saw for example, in 2018, where the rain just didn't quit during harvest. And so, yeah, I think we're going to have a lot of growers there that are going to be happy to get the crop out of the ground.

    Carah Hart: Well, let's talk a little bit about the western Corn Belt. We saw a little bit opposite this year in the West.

    Eric Snodgrass: Yeah. Our biggest concern about the West is that they started off dry. We had a winter where in North Dakota, parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, we had places that were 20 to 30 inches in deficit of snowfall. So, if that snowfall's not there to melt, it's going to make the spring rains critical to return soil moisture. And they just weren't there either. So, we saw on the drought monitor, the drought area grow, the depth grow, and then we were concerned all growing season long.

    Because we came off of a La Niña winter and we had La Niña summer conditions. And La Niña is something that a lot of growers in the Midwest do get concerned about because six out of 10 years it's drier than normal when you think about the development of La Niña. Then it did rain, but it was after mid-August that the precipitation came back on.

    And so this is going to be a summer that you're going to look at the precip stats, and you're going to have to look at the day by day, not in a big, long chunk of days, to understand the delivery of the rainfall and if it was beneficial to the crops or not. And don't forget, we did get some really stinking hot days in the Northern Plains this past summer, where temperatures were routinely above that 95-to-97-degree mark, and it got hot and it got windy. And that stressed a lot of crops in that area.

    Carah Hart: I think that the warm conditions have carried over into fall a little bit too. We saw some of that carry over and impact some of the harvest as well.

    Eric Snodgrass: It did. And in fact here just the beginning of October, not only have we dealt with temperatures again in the upper 80s and some places in like the western Dakotas cracking 90. But it's come on some windier days, and there's been fire risk as well with all of that, in fact. I was just looking at some satellite imagery, some big fires over Montana that were results of the very dry conditions. But remember, it's October now. So we don't expect to hang on to that forever, right? I mean, it will transition through fall here pretty soon in the Northern Plains.

    Carah Hart: Well, and speaking of that, as we head into this off season, Eric, what can farmers expect in terms of weather this winter?

    Eric Snodgrass: Yeah. So once we get through harvest, our attention is primarily going to turn to how soon is it going to turn cold. What's the precipitation delivery going to be like, and will we see the opposite for a lot of folks in western Corn Belt? Will we see the opposite of what we saw last year? In other words, can we return the soil moisture?

    Now nearly all the long-range forecasts at this point are predicated on the redevelopment, the second dip as I keep calling it, of La Niña. They tend to come in pairs of two, and they're a wintertime phenomenon primarily.

    Okay. La Niñas tend to give us, in the Midwest, cooler winters and better chance of having more precip, more snow. It's typically warmer and drier south. I'm talking like California to Texas, to South Carolina. That stretch is drier and warmer. But the correlation between a La Niña and winter pattern is maybe about 0.4. So it's not super high, like 0.9, but it's there and it's a useful predictor.

    So you won't find a forecast for winter right now that doesn't say the northern half of the country is cooler and probably wetter and the southern half of the country is probably warmer and drier compared to average, based on those ocean temperatures. That's what most folks are going to use until we get into the season and see week by week how it changes.

    Carah Hart: And to clarify what kind of impacts do you think that that could make on the 2022 crop?

    Eric Snodgrass: Well, what we would love to see, this would make... If history could repeat itself, we'd love to come out of this La Niña by about February and then push into either neutral or even El Niño conditions by the time we start planting. And the reason why is, El Niño summers in the Corn Belt tend to produce routine precipitation. They tend to produce less extreme heat and tend to, historically, be correlated with our higher yielding years. It's not a slam dunk. It's not a perfect forecast, but you talk to a Midwest farmer about El Niño and La Niña... Which again, we're just watching the ocean temperatures change in the Pacific, right? That's what those are. And they're going to say La Niñas make them scared from drought. And I get it, six out of 10 years does that. But the same thing, six out of 10 years, when there's an El Niño, we tend to do a lot better. So we'll watch out for that.

    Carah Hart: Now, what can farmers expect in terms of weather for next year and how do you think this could impact corn and soybean crops in the Midwest?

    Eric Snodgrass: Yeah. Long-range prediction, we're talking eight to 12 months here, right? If we look out that far. A lot of that is really done best by looking at historical trends. And throughout much of the Corn Belt, you look over the last 70 years, we've been wetter overall, and we've not seen a huge increase in our temperatures, especially daytime max temperatures, but overnight lows are up two to three degrees on average. So if you just look at the long-term trends, year on year, we tend to be getting plenty of rainfall for most of the Corn Belt. So I would expect that trend to continue.

    Although, one other part of it is that more of that rainfall is delivered by big one-off rainfall events. I mean, I'm sure you've experienced those days where you get two, three inches of rain in just a half hour, 45 minutes, and then you might go another two weeks before another rainfall, if it happens. That kind of disparity and variance has been measured now for about 40 years. And we're keeping a close eye on that.

    But at this point, I don't have any red flags that's got me worried about the 2022 growing season here. And I think that we could, if we get that soil moisture back this winter, with some good snowpack up North, we'd be in good shape going into 2022.

    Carah Hart: Eric, is there anything you'd recommend farmers do now to prepare for next year's weather events?

    Eric Snodgrass: Boy, that's a great question. I think what I would do is that I would... The way I would prepare with respect to weather it's to know my resources. I would want to know who or what and where I'm going to go to get the timely weather information that I need in order to plan operations. We all know that long-range prediction is speculative, right? We have a few clues, and we use those to kind of get an idea. But the reality of it is, in agriculture, we do things day by day or week by week, not season by season, and as a result, we just need to know where to go to get that good information. And I hope a lot of folks come to me for it. I give it away for free. And we certainly like to be able to tell folks what we're seeing with respect to the weather and how it's going to impact business.

    Carah Hart: Eric, you bring up a really interesting point. And I wonder for those weather geeks, nerds out there that are tuning into this podcast, how do you think technology has changed weather forecasting in the time that you've been in the business?

    Eric Snodgrass: Oh, it's amazing leap forward. What's changed is high-powered computing and better observations. You put those two things together, we get better prediction.

    You know what I told a friend of mine. I said, "If we ended up losing access to all of the weather forecast models we currently use, there's a skill that I have lost." And I think most of my generation and future generations are going to lose. And that is the ability to walk right outside there, look up, see the clouds, feel the wind, sift a little dirt, and then know what things are going to do. My predecessors could do that. They could look and say, "Gosh, we're going to have to look out later on this week. I think a front's coming through. I see that cloud type." We've lost that ability because we relied so much on weather prediction from numerical weather prediction, that's the models. But the tech is improving in a way that's extending out our view into weeks ahead, not just days ahead. And I'm excited for that.

    Carah Hart: Yeah. Are there any other ways that farmers should be looking at possibly expanding, getting some of that information? I mean, without getting super specific here.

    Eric Snodgrass: Yeah. I built something for them and it's a pretty simple website. Just go to That's And it's a great website to go and investigate and see a bunch of weather resources that I have built for free. It's all for free that will show folks with all these weather forecast models are predicting. Plus, a great access to historical weather too.

    Carah Hart: Are there any more pieces of the weather puzzle, Eric, that you think farmers should be aware of for next year?

    Eric Snodgrass: Absolutely. What will be most important going into next year is going to probably be how the South American crop evolved in our winter, their summer. I think that when you consider what we do and when we do it in the spring, a lot of those decisions are based upon where prices are, where global production is, what the numbers look like.

    In South America, unlike a year ago, where they had a very late plant and some struggles throughout the season, doesn't look to be having such negative impacts on their current planting time period. I think that's what's going to be more critical than any moving weather pieces. The weather in South America versus the weather in North America going forward.

    Carah Hart: Well, thanks Eric for this great weather conversation. And that's all we have for this episode of We're All Ears.

    A reminder that we'll be releasing new episodes weekly until the end of harvest. So be on the lookout for next week's episode, where we take another journey, this time from lab to bag, to find out exactly what goes into each bag of corn and soybean seeds that you buy from Golden Harvest.

    Make sure you don't miss any new content by subscribing to We're All Ears on your preferred podcast streaming platform. We're on Apple® Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify®. And remember just like you're listening, we're listening too. So join the conversation and interact with us at Golden Harvest on Facebook and Twitter or @goldenharvestseeds on Instagram and let us know what you think so far.

    Thanks for tuning in for this episode of We're All Ears. We'll see you next week.

    Show more

  • November 3, 2021

    E04: From Lab to Bag: What’s in Seed?

    Have you ever wondered what goes into the development of the corn and soybean seeds that you plant every season? In this week’s episode, Warren Kruger, Syngenta head of North America seeds development, and Ryan White, Syngenta head of production operations and supply chain for field crops, join Carah Hart to discuss the corn and soybean seed production process.

    Episode Transcript

    Carah Hart: Hello, everyone. It's time for Golden Harvest’s We're All Ears, a podcast miniseries airing throughout harvest 2021. Another week, another episode that I'm happy to share with you all. I'm Carah Hart, your host. This episode is for the curious-minded. What exactly goes into a bag of corn and soybean seeds that you get from your trusted Golden Harvest Seed Advisor, the seeds that fuel your entire operation? Well, we're taking you on that journey, from lab to bag, to discover exactly what goes into every bag from Syngenta Seeds. I'll be joined by Warren Kruger and Ryan White, two of the experts behind seeds development, production and operations at Syngenta. Glad you're here with us. This is We're All Ears. Hey, Warren. Hey, Ryan. Can you both introduce yourselves and share a bit about your experience in agriculture? And let's start with Warren.

    Warren Kruger: Hey, Carah, nice to join you and the listeners. Yeah, as you pointed out, my name is Warren Kruger. I'm the head of North America seeds development so me and my team work on all of the new seed products for our field crops, primarily corn, soybean and wheat for the North America market. I have been with Syngenta for a little over a year now and in total I have 17 years of experience, industry R&D experience, in the agriculture and seed business, so really great again to be with you today. Carah: Ryan, tell us a little bit about you.

    Ryan White: Yeah, hi Carah and all listeners out there. Ryan White, I'm the head of production operations and supply chain for the field crops here with Syngenta and I've been in the industry nearly 24 years this year, which is almost crazy to think about. I started actually my journey into the seeds world as a young kid detasseling seed corns for one of our predecessor companies, Funk's G, that then is now a part of the legacy Syngenta companies and here I am today working with the team and my family still farms in northern Illinois so I stay close to all the farming activities that take place each and every day.

    Carah: Well, it's good to have you both join us and you both, of course, work for Syngenta Seeds, Warren on the seed development side and Ryan on the seed production and operation side. What can you tell me about the company's history in the seeds industry? And Warren, we'll start with you.

    Warren: Sure, well, Syngenta as a whole has been around since 2000 and really became the Syngenta Group in 2020. Syngenta Seeds is now one of the world's largest developers and producers of seeds for farmers, commercial growers, small seed companies and retailers. Our team has continued to expand our brand of, portfolio of crops, but our key focus is corn and soybeans and, as I mentioned in the introduction, wheat as well for the North America market. Syngenta Seeds feature both Agrisure® traits as well as Enogen® technology and while we've come a long way our goal is to be leaders in all things seeds related. And I think that foundation comes from our dedication to innovation and helping farmers improve the quality as well as the yield potential of their crops. Our teams work every day on our research and development to bring farmers more vigorous, stronger, more resistant plants that will weather the challenges that farmers currently face and will face also in the future.

    Carah: Now that we have some history on Syngenta Seeds, let's talk a little bit more about research and development. Warren, what have Syngenta Seeds R&D efforts looked like in the past and what do they look like now?

    Warren: Our R&D process has continued to improve as we grow more committed to driving advancement in the seed industry. R&D essentially is about speed, precision and power, if I were to exemplify it in those three words. It's really the ability to combine those, orchestrate those, to better identify new products that meet the needs of farmers' operations and the challenges they face. It's really a mindset, if you will, that allows us to drive momentum that is guided by technology, data and science to find new solutions. In short, it really and truly runs like an orchestrated engine. When I think about examples of this, a couple come to mind. Our trait integration is really a great example of this idea of speed, precision and power. For example, we have a great innovation engine that speeds up the germplasm and trait development in a way that improves yield potential.

    It's one of the ways in which we brought Enlist E3® soybean varieties to the market faster than almost anybody else in the industry and how we're also fueling a very strong and improving corn portfolio with first-in-line innovations. Another example is the Trait Conversion Accelerator, in Idaho, which showcases our commitment to innovation and the exemplification of a rapid and fast seed product development pipeline. That facility focuses on developing corn seed products with cutting edge traits and great, best-in-class genetics that are brought to the market more quickly. Before we had the Trait Conversion Accelerator a lot of that work was done in open fields and only with semi-controlled environments, but in Nampa we take away the environmental impact by using protected culture to advance our trait integration, making it far more reliable.

    We have also looked at how we speed up the integration of traits into soybean, when we think about some of the trait acceleration that happens there, where we're able to drive the conversion of soybean to provide trait choice in as little as seven weeks. So that's another great innovation that we've experienced both in corn and in soybean. So with all that, there's a great reason why Syngenta was also recognized as a top-10 leading employer by Science Magazine in 2019. We're innovating with our farmers, not at our farmers.

    Carah: So Warren, what does this mean for the farmers here? What can farmers expect from Syngenta Seeds' corn and soybean products?

    Warren: For the 2022 season the game-changing corn portfolio from Golden Harvest features new hybrids and proven performance. Many of our corn products include Agrisure® traits which protect the seed's genetic yield potential that have been brought through from our breeding pipelines. Both of these portfolios have options like Agrisure Duracade® and Agrisure Viptera® traits for above- and also below-ground insect protection, as well as Agrisure Artesian® traits for water optimization. In terms of soybeans, we bring farmers top-end yield potential with a very broad choice of herbicide tolerant trait platforms. For the 2022 season farmers can look for Gold Series soybeans, from Golden Harvest, which are exclusive genetics offered in high-demand trait platforms, including Enlist E3 soybeans as well as XtendFlex® soybeans. So farmers have choice, both in terms of genetics as well as herbicide resistance, to pick what solution works best for their farm.

    Carah: That's very interesting, Warren, and I wondered, you really seem to take pride in all the work that you do at Syngenta, what's your favorite part about what you do?

    Warren: My favorite part of what I do is actually working in one of the most collaborative teams, not only within my team, but with other teams, including folks like Ryan. Syngenta, at its core, is a great collaboration-oriented culture and that really fosters great team interaction, challenging conversations, working with challenging problems because everybody's in it to help develop those better products to farmers solutions. Again, just to emphasize the point, it's really about driving great collaboration, that's what really excites me.

    Carah: Well thanks, Warren, for joining us and answering some questions and we're going to transition over here to Ryan. Now that we've heard so much about what goes into seed research and development, let's talk a little bit more about quality and I wondered, Ryan, can farmers expect a certain standard of quality from Syngenta Seeds?

    Ryan: When it comes to quality, to Warren's earlier comment, it really is about a mindset and not just the mindset but also the technology and everything we do. When I say mindset, it's the mindset of our employees that quality matters to our customers and every step of the process. So from the time we start growing the crop in the field, we start monitoring the quality of that crop, to the time that that crop gets harvested and all the sampling that we do to ensure the genetic purity of that crop in terms of germination of those seeds, protect those seeds as best we can and handle them as gently as possible all the way through our seed production processes.

    And then all the final quality testing we do once the seed is in the bag and treated and making sure that we can deliver the best quality seed that will give our customers the best stands in their fields in the spring and deliver the traits and the genetics that they look to get from our Golden Harvest Seed Advisors.

    Carah: It sounds like Syngenta has a lot of really high standards for their products.

    Ryan: You know, we're always raising the bar on quality every year. We're looking for opportunities to improve, just like farmers, they want to get more out of every acre every year, and we want to help them get more. And a lot of that comes with getting their crop established early. And so we're always looking for new tests that we can do to help support the farmer and help make sure that crop establishes itself well and gets off to the best start and performs to its potential.

    Carah: Ryan, let's talk a little bit more about production, on the production side of things. How exactly does an order of corn or soybean seeds go from lab to bag in a farmer's field?

    Ryan: Yeah, it's quite the journey, and one of the first things I always like to remind folks when we talk about getting a bag of seed to a farmer for spring of 2022, it actually started all the way back in, actually, February of 2021, anticipating what products that the R&D team, the seeds development team, are going to bring through, they're going to create the value from our customers, our product management team, then reviewing those products and their placement and fit for our customers, and then us working with our sales team to create demand for those products and really understand the demand placement of those products. And then we grow it. Then we've got to grow that crop just like a farmer and do all the management that it takes to create the hybrid seed corn and manage the soybean fields as effectively as we can for pests, and get them all the way to harvest.

    So a lot of the activities from planting the female rows of corn, to the male rows of corn, to the detasseling activities, to harvesting on the ear and bringing it in to our dryers at our plant, a lot of the activities are similar to what farmers do, with a lot of specialization to ensure seed quality in each step of the process. So we always like to say we're a partner with our seed growers and our farmers that we work with to bring that crop forward and that seed forward for the next year.

    Carah: I think it's really cool that you work with some of those growers to really make sure that you're getting the best options out there to folks. And that, in fact, some Golden Harvest products may be grown just down the road from where people live. That's a really cool thing.

    Ryan: Oh yeah, absolutely. Our soybeans are really grown within our seed production footprint across the Midwest, all the way from near where you're at there, Carah, in North Dakota, all the way down to Arkansas, and we grow all the way from Nebraska to Indiana. So we have quite the footprint where we're really working and partnering with farmers to grow the crop and manage that seed crop, right alongside our seed production, agronomist and field operations managers. And so we always talk about that partnership, that it's hand-in-hand to make sure we bring forward the best products, ultimately, to all of our Golden Harvest customers across the Midwest.

    Carah: We know the COVID-19 pandemic really impacted a lot of businesses and I wondered, Ryan, can you tell me how the COVID-19 pandemic affected operations in production for Syngenta seeds?

    Ryan: Yeah, COVID and the challenges of it, managing our business, really from the standpoint of overall seed production. First and foremost, a shout-out to our employees who worked every day making sure that the seed was delivered and packaged and handled in the best manner from spring all the way through summer, throughout the pandemic. I want to give a shout-out to them. If it wasn't for them at our seed plants every day, doing their job, we wouldn't be able to deliver to our customers like we do. From there, really, since we grow a lot of our crop locally with the farmers and partners that we work with, we didn't have a lot of challenges there. We were able to get the crop grown.

    Where we did start to see some of the challenges are in things that some farmers don't think about and it's pallets that we put the seed on. I'm sure if we talked about the price of wood with our farmers, and projects they're doing, they would understand that and changing the lead times and when we could get them and when we couldn't get them, a balancing act. Things such as paper bags, sometimes the paper bags, that the seed goes into, we take for granted that we can just order it and get it a few months later and we've actually had to extend lead times and make sure that we have the right bags in place to put that seed in, to keep the operations moving. So a lot of it's been around extending the supply chains and making sure that we can manage them effectively for a lot of those, what I call input materials, if you will – bags, tags, pallets – that if we don't have those things we can't get the seed out the door to the farmers.

    Carah: Ryan, could that extended into 2022 as well?

    Ryan: Oh, absolutely. We've been managing a lot of things here into 2022 with that as well, where we're seeing extended supply chain lead times on things. My family farms, and unfortunately we had a part break on a tractor and we found out it wasn't quite as available as what we thought either. Thankfully we had a great local dealer with a great service who was able to help us out and make things happen, just like our Golden Harvest dealers do for our customers. But it's something we're going to have to continue to keep an eye on to make sure we can have those materials available and make sure the seed keeps getting packaged and out the door, and so far we're in a great position to make sure we do that before next spring.

    Carah: We know also that there's been some severe weather as well in really important supply locations and I wonder, does the severe weather conditions that have happened in 2021 also impact seed supply as we go into 2022?

    Ryan: Yeah, the one thing about our footprint is we grow in a broad state of geography so sometimes farmers, especially I work with some teams in North Dakota there, they're severely affected by the drought and look out their back door and wonder and question and that, if you look at where our footprint is and where we're growing, we're in a solid position to be able to supply our seed because of the diversity of our growing areas and how far we spread the risk, if you will, of trying to mitigate against some of those other things. So sometimes the farmers have to remember everything in the back door isn't the weather everywhere and make sure you're always looking around and just stay in good contact with your seed suppliers. The company here with our teams, our supply chain folks are highly communicating with our Golden Harvest team every day about what's available and how we can make sure we get the seed there. But in general, we're now in a solid position to meet the demands of the farmers as we head into the spring of 2022.

    Carah: So to wrap things up, what can you tell us about the delivery and logistics piece of seed production, Ryan?

    Ryan: Yeah, you know, I always remind folks that production is kind of like the offensive line of a business. We like when nobody talks about us and the quarterback's playing well and everything's going down the field. We tend to get talked about when the trucks aren't getting loaded and the seed is not headed out the door. It's kind of like an offensive line when the quarterback gets sacked, everybody else sit and looks at it, looks at that offensive line of a football team, right? So I'd tell you the offensive line is great here at Syngenta. We're in a great position. We've got our partners and what we call our truckers and our carriers. We've been meeting with them all fall here, talking about the volume we have to ship. They're ready to head out, get the trucks loaded and out the door and so far so good. We're off to a great start this fall with seed corn harvest wrapping up and nearly halfway through the soybean harvest and so things are really moving forward in a great way for 2022.

    Carah: Thank you both for joining us and before we let our listeners go, is there anything else you want them to know as they wrap things up and as we head into next year, anything else that they should know about the products coming from Golden Harvest?

    Warren: Well, I'll go first and then Ryan can probably jump in after me. I think as it relates to Golden Harvest, we're committed to delivering very competitive genetics, essentially our newest genetics with our latest trait packages in the most efficient and effective way. And we continue to revise and improve our process so that our products continue to improve year over year. And of course it doesn't help to have great products if we can't produce and deliver them so it's the great collaboration that goes all the way from R&D through product supply and Ryan's team and, ultimately, to our commercial team that makes the Golden Harvest story a really great one to be part of. So that's my perspective, and Ryan, anything you want to add?

    Ryan: Yeah, just add it really comes down to our employees every day are focused on farmers' success and that comes down to making sure that we get all the right products tested properly, make sure we get all the right quality tests done, make sure that we get all the right seed in the right package types with the right treatment on the seed for the farmers, for what they need to establish those stands early and make sure they're setting themselves up for the most genetic potential success in their farming operations. And so our employees every day are thinking about how do we make sure the seed is handled well with the best quality and really making sure that we can deliver it on time before those spring planters and those planters roll in the spring. So it's the dedication of our teams and the dedication of our employees that really set us apart, always thinking about how farmers need that seed to succeed on their farming operations.

    Carah: We covered a lot in this episode of We’re All Ears. New episodes will continue to come each week. Next week we're setting you up for next season by diving in how to create the best corn crop plans for 2022. You'll definitely want to be there. Subscribe to We're All Ears on your preferred streaming platform so you don't miss it. We're on Apple Podcasts®, Google Podcasts, and Spotify®. And remember, just like you're listening, we're listening too. Join in the conversation and interact with us at Golden Harvest on Facebook and Twitter or Golden Harvest Seeds on Instagram and share your thoughts on this episode and the whole series.

    Thanks for joining us in this episode of We're All Ears. We'll see you in the next one.

    Show more

  • November 10, 2021

    E05: How to Talk the Talk and Walk the Stalk

    The 2021 corn harvest is underway, which means it’s time to start thinking about your plans for the 2022 growing season. It’s important to evaluate this season’s successes and challenges when planning for the next, in addition to keeping fertility, crop protection and hybrid selection top of mind. Tune in to this week’s episode for agronomic advice on creating 2022 corn production plans as Carah Hart is joined by Golden Harvest agronomists Ron Beyer and Brad Koch.

    Episode Transcript

    Carah Hart: Hi again, and welcome back to We're All Ears with Golden Harvest, a podcast miniseries airing throughout harvest 2021. I'm Carah Hart, and it's a pleasure to be you all today.

    Last week we learned what goes into the development and production of every bag of seed from Golden Harvest. This week, we're going to learn how to talk the talk and walk the stalk. In other words, we're going to be looking at how to create the best corn crop plans for 2022. Here to help us are Golden Harvest agronomists, Ron Beyer from the West, and Brad Koch representing the East. It's great to have you. This is We're All Ears.

    Hi, Ron and Brad. Thanks so much for joining us. Could you start off by introducing yourselves, telling us a little bit about your experience in agriculture and which regions you serve as Golden Harvest agronomists. Ron, we’ll start with you.

    Ron Beyer: All right. Thank you. I'm Ron Beyer, Golden Harvest agronomist here in northwest Iowa. I service the far northwestern Iowa area. I work with three sales reps and the entire sales teams that they work with as well. Been with Golden Harvest a little over four years, but been in the ag industry for much longer than that. So, we've got very good yields out here in northwest Iowa and looking forward to even more coming up this next year.

    Carah Hart: Brad, tell us a little bit about you.

    Brad Koch: Yeah, good afternoon. I represent the Golden Harvest brand as an agronomist in west-central, Illinois, kind of that central corridor of Illinois, otherwise known as God's Country, typically. I'm on year 13 with Syngenta. I've done several seed and crop protection roles. It's been a great ride with the company, and it's great to service my home area of west-central Illinois.

    Carah Hart: Glad to have you both with us today in this podcast. As Midwestern corn farmers wrap up the season and begin to plan for 2022, what advice do you have for evaluating 2021 yield results? Ron, let's start with you.

    Ron Beyer: Well, I would say that for the most part, our corn and soybean yields here in northwest Iowa have been much above normal. Our corn yields are, we've had a lot of those approaching the 250 to 280 range, a couple of these even the 300 plus range. Same thing with the soybeans. We've had incredible yields on beans, upwards of that 80-90 bushel range. But for the most part, we have had variability across northwest Iowa. For the most part, 2021 started a little bit cooler, but we did have much above normal growing degree units, which really favored the late season maturities for both the corn and the soybeans.

    Our precipitation this year was much below normal as well, so it makes a lot of difference where the guys had gotten the precipitation, when they received that, what type of soils that they had, was it able to go ahead and hold that moisture later into the season and actually turn that back into grain. So, the guys need to actually visit with their Golden Harvest Seed Advisors to see the right products around their area that did perform the best. One of the best ways to do that, I think, is to actually utilize our new E-Luminate® digital platform. It's got a product analyzer tool that really takes a look at the growers' soil types, along with the right products that would work best on that acre. So I would encourage them to get in contact with either our agronomists or the Seed Advisors for probably the best product evaluation.

    Carah Hart: Brad, do you have anything else to add from God's Country?

    Brad Koch: Well, I would tell you that that no two years are ever alike, and this was another example of that this year. Overall, we had a good growing season, but lots of variability in the weather, in the environments, and certain hybrids and management practices really showed up this year.

    We went through a relatively good planting season in April, and then it got wet. And then we actually entered into a flash drought in June, and guys were begging for rain by the third week of June. I mean, when you have corn rolling in central Illinois in June, that's not normal. But then, weather changed and we got a lot of rain, almost too much rain. I had areas that had 15 to 20 inches the first couple weeks of July.

    And you might think that that's good, and it did replenish the soil profile, but what that brought on was some nutrient leaching, as far as nitrogen, and it brought on a wealth of diseases in that type of environment that we're going to discuss here as we go forward. And then, those diseases really propagated throughout July. And then in August, we finished somewhat hot and dry. So kernel fill, both with disease and the weather, was not what I would call ideal. And that's why we don't have the top-end yields that we're used to in central or west-central Illinois this year from a corn crop standpoint. So we'll get into some of that here as we go forward, but that's this overall synopsis of the season.

    Carah Hart: Now, Brad or Ron, are there any tools you recommend to help farmers analyze yield results and make informed decisions for next year? I know Ron had mentioned a little bit on the app, but is there anything else that you'd like to, or any other tools that farmers need to have in their toolbox?

    Ron Beyer: Sure. One of the tools that I like to use that's actually incorporated into the E-Luminate tool is a product called, what they call Product Analyzer. And it's a good opportunity just to bring up a specific hybrid and then you can kind of compare that product to another competitive product or even one of our other Golden Harvest products just to see where its overall performance was throughout the year. So once again, I would encourage them to contact the Golden Harvest Seed Advisors or our agronomist staff here as well, that we can kind of help you with that.

    Brad Koch: Great point from a technology standpoint, and our E-Luminate tool can really help growers dial into some of that, and it's really just all technology as a whole. Utilize your yield data. Most growers have precision technology in the planter and in the combine. I love seeing side-by-sides throughout the whole field of different hybrids and then doing the analysis of that across a large environment. So, I encourage producers to take hold of that yield data and do some analysis as they make decisions going forward.

    Carah Hart: This question is for either of you, and I had an agronomist tell me that, at least where it's been dry up here in the North, this was a good year, even with the dry conditions, to learn. Every year, of course, is a great opportunity to look back and learn if we take those moments. But what were some of the biggest lessons learned, would you think, when it comes to the yield or when it comes to just growing a crop this year, especially the corn crop when we have two very different growing seasons?

    Ron Beyer: I would say here in Iowa, one of the first things that stood out is the fact that we had the opportunity to go ahead and get our crop back in, I would say, in a very timely fashion. But for the most part, we were planting into very dry soils. When we did our early season evaluations on some of the products, it was very apparent that we had a very varied emergence of the corn crop itself, where some of the corn crop would be in the upwards of that V2 to V3 stage, and there would be plants within that same row that might be two, three, even a week behind.

    So, just understanding this is the environment that we have to deal with all the way throughout the year and how will that affect the long-term yield potential of our corn crop? So even now when I've got growers or customers that really challenge me as far as the yields that they're getting back out there, I help to remind them that all of this started from the time that that corn crop came up. Was it uniform, or did it have a lot of variability?

    Carah Hart: Brad, what lessons were learned in your region that maybe we haven't covered yet?

    Brad Koch: One lesson learned yet again this growing season, as well as last growing season was, from a corn planting perspective, when the soil is fit, I really don't care what the soil temperature is. Granted, it can't be in the 30s, but even if we're not quite at that 50 degree mark, but this soil is fit, get out there and get the corn planted, and don't wait and plant your corn on Mother's Day weekend. That is something that I have learned that it is not a good scenario, both agronomically and personally, right? The mothers do not like that. In all seriousness, corn planted in May where you get two to four inches on it afterwards and lose all the soil oxygen, stands are terrible. And so, growers are really rewarded for getting out there early. Plant good conditions when the soil's fit. Don't worry so much about soil temperature as much as a big rain that's forecasted right after you plant.

    Carah Hart: Thanks, guys. We learned in an earlier podcast episode with Golden Harvest agronomy managers, David Schlake and Steve Wilkens, that corn rootworm pressure was the number one insect challenge for corn farmers across the Midwest. Ron, how should farmers evaluate their 2021 management strategies and what adjustments should they make for 2022?

    Ron Beyer: In the territory that I cover, corn rootworm is definitely our number one challenge and has been for quite some time. I have actually seen these numbers continue to rise on a yearly basis, and it's just become more of a challenge to, particularly, the corn-on-corn growers that have to deal with this condition on a yearly basis. That's probably my number one goal for these growers is to help them evaluate the potential of a severe infestation on their farms.

    One of the tactics that we used this past year in our area was to conduct a corn rootworm monitoring project all the way throughout the summer. We had upwards of 400 to 500 corn rootworm sticky traps that we put out in the country, and we evaluated them on a weekly basis just to try to determine, first of all, what was the species that was most evident in the corn fields, whether it would be the Western corn rootworm or the Northern corn rootworm. And then also, how large were those quantities that we're finding back out here.

    From what I would like to see out in this area, on a weekly basis in the trap would be roughly 20 to 25 beetles per trap, and in about the second or third week of monitoring these beetles, we were finding well over 100, as far as our numbers, which really opened up the eyes of a lot of the growers out here.

    So my main advice is specifically if the guys are going corn-on-corn, first and foremost, make sure that you're planting a traited hybrid, and by that I would say a Golden Harvest Agrisure Duracade® product that's got a corn rootworm protection there, and couple that back up with a premium soil-applied insecticide. In this case, either a Force® insecticide or another competitive brand. An Aztec® insecticide has done a very, very good job as well.

    If the case warrants, I would also recommend beetle bombing or doing a foliar application of an insecticide as well, just to try to control the beetle counts that we've got back out here. We can definitely tell some of the guys that have skimped by and maybe did not come through with an entire planned approach to monitoring the corn rootworm, and the yields of those fields definitely showed as well this past year.

    Carah Hart: Brad, do you have anything to add to that?

    Brad Koch: Ron set up a great management tactic. Central Illinois used to be the epicenter of corn rootworm. Again, we're monitoring rootworm beetles, set up traps like Ron was discussing. We just don't have the pressure that we did around five years ago. That said, some of the Northern corn rootworms we're capturing, they're moving into my northern area, but I truly believe we've, we talk about a lot of rain in the spring. I know we've drowned out some of the rootworms here in the last few years.

    That said, a lot of growers are still using heavily-traited products and it's helping with that too, but so we don't have the pressure that Iowa does today, but I tell growers to still think about that. They used to be our number one pests, so trait products, insecticide, even some seed treatment. Guys are looking at higher rates of insecticide on seed treatments and things in their starter fertilizer to combat that as well.

    Ron Beyer: The only thing that I would add to that is that to a point we're starting to see some pockets throughout the area of what I call extended diapause, and that's primarily the Northern corn rootworm beetles, the light green adult beetles that will actually devastate a crop, even on a rotated acre. They will lay their eggs in those eggs while wait for two years and come back in that corn crop once again.

    So we've got a number of growers that were really taken by surprise a couple of years ago when we had the extended diapause. We're just making sure that these guys are aware that that problem could potentially relight itself in say two years, once again, if they were starting to see the Northern corn rootworm pressure in the pockets. So we've got particularly areas that are being infected with the Northerns. We just need to make sure that the growers are aware of the potential that we could have once again.

    Carah Hart: What about diseases? How should corn farmers evaluate their 2021 disease management strategies and adjust for next year? Brad, let's start with you on this one. We know that tar spot was a big topic in the eastern Corn Belt this year.

    Brad Koch: Yeah. To me, this is probably again, corn rootworm used to be a huge nemesis in central Illinois. Fast forward to today, if a grower isn't thinking about disease on the top of his mind, he should be because, and we'll get into the different dynamics here. I've seen so much corn disease over the last two to three years. It just blows my mind, and that area of central Illinois is kind of the corridor between the convergence of some of these different diseases. So we literally get them all, and so you ask about tar spot.

    That's a relatively new disease. I believe it was first found in 2016, and it's kind of made its way through Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and now into Illinois, and what's unfortunate is that we're seeing it overwinter, so it looks like it's going to be an annual disease that we're going to have to manage. It's just one more pathogen, one more disease that compounds the whole disease spectrum.

    I look at things like gray leaf spot and Northern corn leaf blight. That inoculum is always going to be here in Illinois, different environments, different weather situations create how bad they're going to be. The one that's always kind of the, you don't exactly know if it's going to be here or not, is Southern rust. That does not overwinter but blows up on certain storm fronts from the South.

    In 2021, we've had a convergence of everything because of all those weather systems in July and the cool-down that inflamed Northern corn leaf blight, which we already have that inoculum, it also brought up Southern rust earlier than I've ever seen. We have some technology that's catching spores on the crop protection sites, some technology devices, and we started collecting Southern rust spores the first week of July, which we had a storm front that came up from the South that week, so it doesn't surprise me.

    I visually saw it the second, third week of July and diagnosed it, so much earlier than normal. Usually don't see that till August. Then we started seeing tar spot late July into August, and so I called it the trifecta. You look at tar spot, Southern rust and Northern corn leaf blight. Even if one is not at threshold, you put all three of those diseases together in a field, and you can melt a corn crop fast. Meaning when I say melt, I mean lose leaf area extremely fast.

    Between those three specific diseases and the way we finished in August, which essentially the rain stopped, the heat came up, 95 throughout the day for two weeks, low 80s in the night, we went through grain fill in corn almost twice as fast than we would have liked. You'd like to see about almost a month of grain fill, 20 to 25 days, and we went from the dent stage to the black layer in about two weeks, both because of that heat as well as then the diseases. So that is why yields overall are off in west-central Illinois. They're not bad, but it's not what we typically would expect.

    Carah Hart: Ron, what was the disease situation like in the West?

    Ron Beyer: Well, luckily for our area here, tar spot is not a major issue as of yet, but I know that it is starting to move farther and farther west all the time. We still have the Northern corn leaf blight, the gray leaf spot. Those are disease spectrums that we are going to have on an annual basis like Brad had said, but I think for the most part, the growers in this area have done a very, very good job of adapting their management programs to include the fungicide applications throughout the year.

    Specifically this year, with the price of corn the way it was, I had talked to a number of retailers that told us that they had their best fungicide sales season ever. I think our corn crop really showed that as well. We did receive some late Northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot to a certain extent, but it was nowhere near the degree that we could have had with additional moisture or the lack of fungicide applications that really helped us to conserve those yields that we had.

    Carah Hart: Thanks, Ron. We know that insect damage and disease can also lead to stalk integrity issues at harvest. Ron, did you see any issues with stalk integrity in your area this year?

    Ron Beyer: We did on a very small basis, but I think for the most part, some of those fields were kind of picked out early and the combine got to them earlier as well. A couple of different management strategies that I try to help the growers to utilize, to maximize stalk integrity ... First of all, like we had talked about before, make certain that we've got a proper corn rootworm management program and I think some of these fields that actually have a lot of trimmed roots from intense corn rootworm pressure, that just leads to more stalk issues later into the season, specifically when you've got dry conditions out there with lack of moisture. That plant is doing everything it can to fill that year, and a lot of times it will cannibalize that stalk to do it.

    Another thing that I saw quite a bit this past year would be some situations where the grower really did not monitor the late season fertility. Now primarily the nitrogen needs of that corn plant, some growers I know that try to use simply manure as their main source of fertility back out or without supplementing some of the nitrogen, those corn plants basically just starved as they tried to fill those ears in. Once again, those stalks went down quite fast.

    We need to also try to monitor some of the potassium needs of the corn plants. We still have a lot of poultry litter that's put around the countryside. The poultry litter does a great job as far as the nitrogen and the phosphorus, but I think as far as the total potassium needs of that corn plant, I think we actually need to consider supplementing those fields with additional potash, just to make sure that we've got enough needed by that corn plant, first of all to keep the drought tolerance at its highest with the corn plant, but also to maximize the late season standability or the stalk quality.

    So once again, I would continue to do all of those things, and like I'd said before, continue to go ahead and put on those fungicides. That in itself really helps with the overall stalk quality late into the year.

    Carah Hart: Brad, did you see stalk integrity issues in Illinois and some of the areas that you cover too, and should farmers be thinking about that for 2022?

    Brad Koch: Oh, you bet. We sure did. We were one massive storm front and wind event from a lot of downed corn in my area here over the last month. The good news, a lot of growers listen to what their Seed Advisor, their sales rep, their agronomist, and a lot of corn got harvested on a timely basis, and that resulted in probably not the widespread epidemic of downed corn that could have happened, but to Ron's point, if you lose root area which results in less water uptake, if you lose your nitrogen from lots of water that we had there in July as I described, and then you lose leaf area from those diseases, all three of those things compound grain fill.

    Essentially as Ron talked about, a corn plant will cannibalize itself, meaning use what it has stored within the stalk to try to finish out that ear, and that's what results in that poor stalk integrity. So we definitely had that, but I'm very happy that a lot of growers got out and got the corn out, maybe at the detriment of maybe getting some beans out when they should have been cut, but overall resulted in probably not the big disaster that it could have been from a downed corn scenario.

    Carah Hart: What other topics should corn farmers be thinking about for 2022? Ron, let's start with you.

    Ron Beyer: Well, I would say in the area that I've got around here, we've got more and more growers that are actually choosing to do minimum tillage or even no-till, specifically as I go a little bit farther west, and that area to the west actually has a lot more corn-on-corn, so residue management is actually a big issue for some of those guys. This year when our temperatures were very cool right at planting time, we found, too, that the areas that were actually covered with high amounts of residue became more and more of a challenge as the year went by.

    So we need to make sure that we've got a proper residue management program for the guys that are doing a lot of corn-on-corn, or even on a rotated acre. We need to go ahead and make sure that we're trying to maximize the productivity of those acres by actually taking a look at residue management. I've ridden in a lot of combines that actually have some really nice chopping heads, and they do such a nice job of really making small pieces out of that cornstalk, allowing that to go ahead and mineralize, and hopefully by the time that spring comes back over here, it won't be nearly as much of an issue.

    We saw, too, that where we had a lot of residue, even in the spring, we had what we called hair pinning or where the planter goes by and actually it throws some of that residue right back into that seed channel, so you don't get the good seed-to-soil contact that you need. You actually have residue that's backed into that same seed channel, and that can actually deter some of the top stands that our corn plants need.

    Another thing that we see back out here with residue is that it actually cools that soil and does not allow it to warm up nearly as fast as it should. We keep on telling a lot of the growers and the Seed Advisors that we work with that about every 10 to 12 degrees difference in soil temperature actually doubles that root and the shoot growth.

    And I've shown a fact, too, that if I've got residue in one spot and I've got bare soil in another, early in the spring, I can put a soil probe back in there and I can see upwards of 10 degrees difference in soil temperature where we keep that residue off of the soil and turn it black. So it's very important that we try to minimize the amount of residue that we've got to try to get that corn crop going.

    So, as we talked about before, minimizing the disease potential as well is one of the big things, too, that really causes us to take a look at the amount of residue that we've got back out here and have a game plan on how we can try to at least maximize the productivity on some of those acres where we have a lot of residue.

    Carah Hart: Now, Brad, I know we talked a lot about disease, and tar spot, as we just mentioned was a really big one in the eastern Corn Belt. What specific examples of hybrid recommendations do you have for tar spot resistance for 2022?

    Brad Koch: Yeah, that's a great subject to talk about because literally the hybrid that a grower chooses going forward, where there's areas of high tar spot are going to dictate whether he's going to be in a one- or two-pass fungicide scenario. And I know nobody wants to think about spending money on fungicide, number one, right? We just got the growers' kind of mindset into doing it once. And now with these three diseases that we've discussed, for success and management of this, your growers are going to be looking at potentially two passes of fungicide, depending on their genetic resistance to that disease, specifically tar spot.

    And so we were really happy to see this year that within the Golden Harvest, Syngenta genetic lineup, we really have some good genetic resistance to that to disease. Typically overall, we always have, that's just some of the background genetics that we have. There's some competitive genetics that really melted, again, I say melted I mean just senesced and got tar spot really bad. So depending on what you're choosing is going to dictate what your fungicide strategy is going to have to be.

    And so within Golden Harvest specifically, and I run the 108- to 116-day maturity line, we have a couple unique products: Golden Harvest G10D21, and as well as our new product, Golden Harvest G13P84, which have some background similarities, but both of those products are outstanding on tar spot. And so if you pick, think products like that, genetics first, doesn't mean you're still not going to have to implement a fungicide application, but it's going to dictate between one or two of those going forward.

    And to me, that's a big deal because there were situations where growers requested their one fungicide application and either didn't get it, or got it maybe one, two, or three weeks later than they really called it in or wanted it from an agronomic stage. The industry, there is not enough applicators, and airplanes, and helicopters to cover all of the corn acres one time, much less two times. So that's what really concerns me going forward is just the logistics of all this. So having good genetic tolerance and resistance to some of these diseases is going to be a big deal going forward.

    Carah Hart: Thanks, Brad. And Ron, I'm going to circle back to something you said earlier, you talked about fertility, and we know how important that is, but I also think about the situation that is the fertilizer needs for 2022. What are your thoughts about how that's going to impact the corn scenario next year?

    Ron Beyer: Well, if I could give one piece of advice to some of the growers back out here, I would say, be flexible, understand the needs of that corn plant, and then try to look around and see what is Mother Nature actually giving me right now that I can help to enhance my corn crop to get more bushels per acre?

    And by saying that, I look to see, I drove by several anhydrous tanks that were actually going by today, and I look at the temperature and it was 55 degrees right now. We're on the verge where we could be putting on fall-applied anhydrous, as long as we've got the safener to go ahead and keep that within the soil.

    But I look at it as well, what type of a winter are we going to have? What type of a spring? Will it be dry or will it be wet? If we anticipate 160 to 180 pounds of anhydrous or nitrogen being out there this fall, how much of that will actually be available in the form that my plant needs by May, or by June, or July of this next year, depending on the rainfall?

    So I would say be flexible, continue to work with your retailers, continue to work with your Golden Harvest Seed Advisors. Let's monitor that fertility level back out there. If we have sufficient rainfall that tends to push that nitrogen down below the root zone, let's make sure that we at least supplement some of the nitrogen needed for that corn plant, so we can try to maximize productivity at the end of the year.

    Carah Hart: And probably a lot of soil testing too, right? Just to make sure you know what you got and where you stand. Ron Beyer: Well, that's where it all starts. Have an idea of what's back out there in the field, regardless of it's your nitrogen phosphorus, your potash, boron, sulfur, whatever it is, and then make sure that you put a solid game plan together that's going to complement each of those elements.

    Carah Hart: Brad, is there any additional crop protection considerations you'd like to talk about, or anything else on the fertilizer front that you'd like to add?

    Brad Koch: Yeah. On the fertility standpoint, one thing I've learned and seen throughout the years is you cannot skimp on nitrogen to try to grow the best corn crop you can. Now that said, a grower needs to look at his soils, right? So I've got a lot of situations, especially in the central part of my territory, where we have 3-5, almost 6% organic matter. So that’s a situation where growers can look at the mineralization of that organic matter as a credit towards their nitrogen component.

    On the flip side, I have guys over in my home county, they're trying to grow corn on timber soil. It's almost white as snow when it dries out, less than 1% organic matter. If you skimp on nitrogen, you're not going to get the yields that you're looking for that are economic. So you really got to look at soils from that standpoint.

    The other thing I would say is sulfur has become a big topic, and it's too long to get into, but we're not getting the sulfur from of the environment that we're used to. And sulfur and nitrogen have a symbiotic relationship, again, there's chemistry into that, we won't get into all that, but applying sulfur, plant-available sulfur, is becoming a really big deal in my area, and it's something to think about. It makes that nitrogen application more efficient. I tell growers going out with nitrogen, it needs to be a 10:1 ratio at minimum with sulfur, if not, an 8:1, 7:1. It makes your nitrogen more efficient, those two elements work together.

    And so that's something to really think about as we go into in fertility. And I know it's going to be a hard pill to swallow as anhydrous has doubled, it's supposedly going up, as well as liquid, as well as P and K, but you're not going to get the crop performance without having that adequate fertility, so it's something to really think about.

    Carah Hart: It is a lot to think about, isn't it, because you also have to pencil out, too.

    Brad Koch: Exactly. There's the economics to it. And don't get me wrong, I mean, you can go the easier route, and this is going to be at time to look, and you brought it up, about soil tests, this is the time to utilize what you've banked right in your soils. If you have soil test levels that are well above critical level, it's time to bank some of that. But just understand, and there's research that showed it – I work with the University of Illinois and a lot of their data, and they use our products, our hybrids – and even with soil tests that are well above critical levels of P and K, they’re showing responses to soil-applied fertilizer to really get those big yields. So it's going to be real easy to not want to throw that stuff out there with the prices we're at. I think there's situations where we can back down, but eliminating that I think is not going to be wise from a yield perspective.

    Carah Hart: To conclude this episode, are there any final agronomic watch-outs or advice that you want farmers to be aware of as they make plans for 2022? Ron, let's start with you.

    Ron Beyer: Well, we talked about a number of different things, both fertility, insects, diseases. I would say if anything, don't be bashful to ask for advice.

    There are so many things that are changing in the agricultural industry right now. So many new herbicides, insecticides coming back out that if you're not on top of it on a daily basis, sometimes it's confusion. So just don't be afraid to go ahead and ask about a new product or a new way of thinking or new equipment. As technology changes, so does the way that we need to adapt out there as farmers. Get in touch with your Golden Harvest agronomist, your Golden Harvest Seed Advisor, and at least be in contact with some new ideas, and also some of the new products that we've got back out. As I said before, be flexible and be adaptable to change.

    Carah Hart: Brad, what are your final thoughts?

    Brad Koch: Well, one thing from a crop protection standpoint, I've already had the discussion with producers and Seed Advisors that, "Hey, maybe we'll just go beans-on-beans." As we discussed, as a way to maybe reduce some fertility needs, not put all that nitrogen out there. But make sure you can get the herbicides for that soybean crop. There is a shortage of glyphosate and glufosinate. If you're going to make a crop rotation decision based upon fertility, for example, inputs, just make sure that you're going to be able to manage that crop in season with crop protection, whether it's corn or soybeans. Growers, we're going to have to really be vigilant next year on using residuals to keep those weeds from not coming up with the shortage of some of these AIs that is predicted to come to fruition in 2022.

    Carah Hart: Thanks, Ron and Brad, for your time today and helping us begin our 2022 corn crop plans. This is Golden Harvest: We're All Ears. There will be new episodes for the next three weeks. Today's episode was all about corn, but next week we're shifting the spotlight to another row crop as we dive into the soybean market and considerations for 2022 variety selection. Don't miss it by subscribing to We're All Ears on your preferred podcast streaming platform. We're on Apple Podcasts®, Google Podcasts, and Spotify®. And remember, just like you're listening, we're listening too. So join the conversation and interact with us @GldnHarvest on Facebook and Twitter or @GoldenHarvestSeeds on Instagram. We'd love to hear what you think. Thanks for taking time to be with us on this episode of We're All Ears. Next episode coming soon.

    Important: Always read and follow label and bag tag instructions. Force, Force Evo, Force CS, Force 3G and Force 6.5G are Restricted Use Pesticides.

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  • November 17, 2021

    E06: Tips for Successful Soybeans in the 2022 Season

    The conversation on 2022 planning continues in this week’s episode as Carah Hart is joined by Ryan Fuller, Syngenta head of soybean strategic marketing, and Mike Tollefson, Syngenta soybean product placement scientist, to discuss considerations for soybean crop plans. Listen in for tips on evaluating your 2021 soybean yield results and how this should influence your 2022 variety selection, trait platform choice and overall plans.

    Episode Transcript

    Carah Hart: Hey farmers. Welcome to We're All Ears, the Golden Harvest podcast miniseries airing through harvest 2021. My name is Carah Hart, and it's great to have you with us. In the last episode, we talked with Golden Harvest agronomists to get their recommendations for creating the best 2022 crop plans for corn. So it's only fair that we spend this episode solely on soybeans. I'm thrilled to be joined by Ryan Fuller, head of soybean strategic marketing at Syngenta, and Mike Tollefson, Syngenta product placement scientist. And I can't wait to discuss the soybean market and considerations for the 2022 variety selection. Let's get right to it. This is We're All Ears.

    Ryan and Mike – it's so good to have you on the podcast today, thanks for joining us. We're excited to give soybeans the spotlight that they deserve in this episode. Can you two tell us just a little bit more about you, your experience in the ag industry, and what you do in your current roles? Mike, let's start with you.

    Mike Tollefson: Yeah, so I grew up on a dairy farm in southeast Minnesota. I've worked in the seed industry for almost 30 years now, largely in research and agronomy roles. My current role allows me to look at soybeans that are in the final two years of testing with the organization. So my role is just to help decide which varieties should be commercialized and allowed to be sold and which ones should never ever see our customers’ field. And so that's what I do with Syngenta.

    Carah Hart: It's a very important job. Ryan, tell us a little bit about you.

    Ryan Fuller: Yeah. I've been with the organization for 15 years, spent some time early on in seed production, but I spent the bulk of my career focused on soybeans. I’ve had the privilege to work alongside of Mike for many of those years as a product placement scientist. And then leading the team where we really focused, like Mike said, on the late-stage development. Recently I jumped to the head of soybean strategic marketing. And what I really like about that role is I get to play that crucial spot that kind of ties the “here and now” that the product managers are focusing on with more of our long-term strategy. So I get to build out what the mid-term strategy is for the organization. And it's been something I've always had a lot of passion around – strategy – and taking what we're doing today and transitioning how that will lead us and set us up for success down the road.

    Carah Hart: You know, it's fun that you both have worked together in the past and look forward to diving in here on your knowledge of any and everything soybeans. We know that the soybean market has evolved in recent years. For example, the soybean market today in 2021 is incredibly different from the soybean market of say, 2001. Ryan, can you walk us through some of the history of the soybean market and how we got to where we are today?

    Ryan Fuller: Yeah, so when I think back over my time in soybeans, which goes back to 2012, but had the exposure earlier, I think there's some things that really jump out to me. Speed would be one of the first things I would talk about. And when I mention speed, there's things like variety life cycles. So back in the 2000s, and even up to 2010, a variety had a longer life cycle in the marketplace than what it does today. Things are happening quite quick and there's rapid turnover in portfolios. So that speed is one significant change I've recognized. Also if you think about herbicide trait platforms and soybeans, for a long time, it was built on conventional soybeans and we transitioned Roundup Ready® soybeans. Then it was Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans, and then onto Roundup Ready Xtend® soybeans, and so on and so forth. But the timing that each one of those is in the marketplace has been condensed. And so there's constant change and it's all about speed.

    The next big thing would be around innovation. And that innovation over 20 years has been huge. And it goes across all aspects of seed development, farming, just agriculture in general. Whether it's from breeding techniques that are driving genetic gain, whether it's these multiple mode of action herbicide traits that are out in the marketplace today, to evolutions in seed care that have really changed. If you look at a treated seed market where it was 20 years ago to where it is today and all the things that can be incorporated to protect that investment season long, it's been huge leaps and strides made.

    The next pillar I would touch on would be just data and information. If you think about the data that's collected and analyzed now versus 20 years ago, there's information coming off of planters, sprayers, combines, drones. You pair that with harvest results, plot results, all of that, the information that's available now versus 20 years ago is significant. And then all of that I'd summarize as it is more complex, but when you can harness the information and the power of that data, it can really help drive your decision-making for a customer, for a farmer to utilize all of that information as inputs to truly drive a decision for your farm.

    Carah Hart: Yeah. I wish all of you that are listening to this podcast right now, wish you could see Ryan's eyes light up whenever he talks about all this. You can definitely see how passionate he is about the topic. I know Mike is, too. Mike, is there anything want to add to this?

    Mike Tollefson: Yeah. I think about how we got to the point where we're at now, where there's a lot of different herbicide trait platforms in the marketplace and how it has become more complex. If we think about it, history is full of examples of Mother Nature overcoming a single form of resistance. Whether it's rootworm beetles overcoming crop rotation, or a soybean cyst race shift, or in particular, weeds becoming resistant to herbicides. We've had to adapt in agriculture. And I think that's part of what's really driven the change and the rate of change.

    We have to come up with multiple modes of action to kill weeds. And yet, we're at a period of time where weeds are becoming more difficult to kill, but there are fewer and fewer new active ingredients coming along. And so the seed industry has reacted by breeding in resistance to the soybean varieties to multiple existing AIs. And so it's kind of a natural reaction by the seed industry to do what we can to help control weeds. But I think that's really part of what's driving the change that we've seen is just keeping up with Mother Nature and some of the things that she's throwing at our customers.

    Carah Hart: Mike, I think it's amazing how quickly all of this can be done. It's just really impressive to me how quickly that a company like this can adapt or even just the industry. How quickly the industry can adapt to make changes that are needed on farming operations.

    Mike Tollefson: It takes a tremendous amount of effort and resource to do it, but again, if we don't adapt, we won't be able to continue increasing the type of yield potential that we're seeing. Every year, it seems like I talk to somebody who just can't believe how far yield potential has come in the field. But again, if we stop innovating, I think we stop seeing that increase in yield potential and maybe even start going backward in some areas. So it is really important that we continue to invest in some of these innovations or our yield potential levels are going to plateau.

    Carah Hart: So I think farmers today have a lot of choice when it comes to their seed selection. Which trait platforms, genetics and varieties should they choose? Now, Mike, from your perspective as a Syngenta soybean product placement scientist, what are some of the most important things that soybean farmers should consider when they think about their variety selections for 2022?

    Mike Tollefson: Yeah. That's such a great question, Carah. You know, I remember as a kid, my dad would get done milking cows and sit in his easy chair and pore over local plot data to try to figure out what varieties to plant the next year. We've come a long way in the access to information, but I think a temptation is maybe just to look at what yielded the most in a local plot. But I think there's a lot more to it than that, particularly with soybeans because certain diseases can have such a huge impact on the success of your soybean crop. It can almost nullify the small yield differences you can see year over year.

    And so I guess what I tell our researchers is we need to put our grower hat on when we're evaluating soybean varieties. So we could have a variety that's a bushel or two better than another variety in a perfect environment, but if it gets white mold, you could lose 80% of your yield and that would be devastating. And so I think knowing your own farm and in your own fields, and then matching a soybean variety to that field that has the disease characteristics and the agronomic characteristics that are required by that field are really important.

    Carah Hart: How do you select which diseases you focus on for the next year, for example? Or how do you make that decision of how you approach this?

    Mike Tollefson: Well, it's really listening to our customers and what they're dealing with. I think that that's really important, especially for us as researchers. We need to be in tune with what's going on in the marketplace. For example, just the other day, we had some researchers taking harvest lodging notes and they were asking how they should do it. And I said, "Just put yourself in the place of our customers. If it looks like those beans are lodged and it would be difficult to get a combine through and get all the beans into the head, then give it a bad score. If it's standing well enough, you think it wouldn't slow down harvest and they'd be able to get all the beans into the head, then give it a good score." And it's really just as simple as that. A lot of times when we're evaluating soybean varieties, it's what would work well for our customers.

    Carah Hart: Ryan, is there anything else that you'd like to add to this piece of the discussion?

    Ryan Fuller: I think the other big thing facing customers and farmers today is just around the soybean herbicide trait choice. And there's lots of different things that can go into making that decision. It could be driven by the weed species and what's going to offer your best control. It could be what's friendly with your operation, because of the variance in post application windows and certification requirements and making sure that you're thinking through at each individual field. What's going to make sense in the overall operation? When you're on top of the variety specific selection, you've got to start maybe at a level higher and understand what's the trait that I really need to go after for my farm that's going to set me up for success?

    Carah Hart: So it's really interesting. That weed management piece is really important to farmers and ranchers. It's a really important tool in the toolbox. Ryan, I wondered can you speak to some things we saw this year that maybe would benefit for farmers next year? Or thoughts of where we've been and where we're headed?

    Ryan Fuller: Yeah. So there's definitely some learnings. It's hard to generalize and put things together. Geographically, there are some trends, but even within those geographical trends, there are certainly different outliers. And so to make comments that would go across the board would be ill-advised, but making sure that you understand the technologies. The benefits of both I think is really important. Whether it's a post tank mix flexibility, or an application date, there's lots of things that should weigh into that decision. But you can't comment broadly across acres and geographies because each individual situation is different. So yeah, absolutely. There was learnings on what worked really well, but it's going to be at that local level that's going to be really, really important.

    Carah Hart: Let's talk a little bit more about the breeding and commercialization process for some of these traits.

    Mike Tollefson: Yeah. I guess we often refer to it as our breeding pipeline, but it's actually shaped more like a funnel. Each year, our breeders make thousands of breeding crosses that results in potentially millions of new soybean varieties. And so we need to quickly thin the herd and get it down to the very elite lines. So if you think about it in just a period of a few years, we'll go from, again, potentially millions of new lines each year, to a point where we launch about 25, 30 new lines, maybe on average each year across North America. Maybe a little bit more now that we're on several different herbicide trait platforms. That's kind of the game is finding those outliers, finding those varieties that have all the different traits that we need and that our customers require. And so you have to sift through a lot of different lines to find that perfect one for our growers, but that's kind of the game.

    Carah Hart: Ryan, you want to add anything to that?

    Ryan Fuller: Yeah. You know, I think what's important to understand is how that funnel has changed over time. And the innovation we talked about earlier and how that increases the probability of success of everything that goes in the start of that funnel. Now, if you look back over 20 years, it was a bit more of a numbers game. And that's still part of it, but how can you stack the deck in your favor? And that's what these new technologies have done is they've really increased the probability of commercial success potential on everything that goes into the beginning of that funnel. And then what's really important is the work that Mike and the rest of the product placement organization does is the rigor in which they put varieties through those last couple of years before they go out to the commercial organization is a huge benefit to Golden Harvest.

    And I think it's something that truly does separate a Golden Harvest product versus others. And our experience has been, as we've looked at just products across the industry that have maybe not been as successful as what people thought it was really... Our data showed it was historically because of either inaccurate or inadequate screening on these different disease and agronomic traits, right? We've had lots of yield locations for a lot of years. It's those things that are more difficult to work with that take more shots on goal. You know, it's not easy to run a sudden death syndrome nursery or a soybean white mold nursery. You know, they joke that if you have a soybean white mold problem, the best way to get rid of it is to put an R&D trial there, because it seems to cure it every time. But the work and effort and energy that that organization puts in to create those environments to ensure that we have the best product information when we go to launch a product to a farmer, I think that's been a key focal point, a key differentiator for Golden Harvest.

    Carah Hart: Mike, is there anything else you want to add to that?

    Mike Tollefson: Yeah. I think Ryan made a lot of good points about how we evaluate soybean varieties. One of the technologies that we rely on really heavily now that that didn't really exist even a short time ago is our reliance on molecular markers. And that's one of the technologies that we use to really go from those potentially millions of new soybean varieties. And very quickly we can screen these varieties and find out which ones have the right traits and which ones don't and get that number down to a manageable number so that we can start screening out in the field for different disease and agronomic characteristics. So that's just an example of one of the technologies that's used really heavily now that that maybe 20 years ago it wasn't in play. So the things, again, are rapidly changing or we're evolving the way we develop varieties every year, but that's been a game changer for us.

    Carah Hart: Thanks Mike. So we know now that considering the agronomic of a variety should be first when farmers are making seed selection. What about yield data? Ryan, how should this play into seed selection?

    Ryan Fuller: Yeah, so it's, it's definitely an important aspect. And I like the analogy of when Mike was a kid. His dad was sitting around flipping through a local plot result book. That that was the way for a long time. How does it perform last year in my given geography? And what's really important with all the capabilities out there now is understanding really what's happening across the environments. And understanding that plot result you're looking at in that local book, is the environment that that experienced representative of what a farmer could expect to experience 7 out of 10 years? Or was it an outlier? And the capabilities that the industry now has to understand things from the environment, to soil characterization really enables a more robust set of information to be considered.

    Because it's not just what happened in my backyard. It's understanding that your backyard is often represented in a lot of backyards across the bigger geography. And when you can harness those additional data points and understand that it may not be local, but the environment that it's being tested in represents what I see in my local environment year on year. It's really important. And those capabilities just didn't exist in the past.

    And so yield information is critical to variety selection. And it needs to be a combination of both those local results, but harnessing the technology and power of just the larger information and dataset that can feed and drive some of those decisions. Because customers and farmers will be coming off years that had a major drought that we haven't had a drought in certain geographies for years. And do you really want to make your variety selections on what performed well in that drought year if you can only expect to see a drought one in 10 years? Or do you want to find the varieties have performed better in the environment that you would more typically see? And so it is important, but it's really important to understand the information you're using to drive to that decision. Carah Hart: And Ryan, I think what you're hitting at here is the more informed you are, the better decision you're going to make ultimately at the end of the day. Right?

    Ryan Fuller: Absolutely. And like I said earlier, the complexity is out there. There's data coming in from every piece of equipment, every drone, every cell phone, every app. Which is all really good, but it's the process of boiling down all that complex data into a means that can make a simplified decision is really the sweet spot. And that's where we're making the progress still today.

    Carah Hart: Mike, you have anything to add to that?

    Mike Tollefson: Yeah. I would just say that we understand some of the concepts that Ryan went over are absolutely spot on, but it's complex to figure that out. And so we've really made an investment in our Golden Harvest Seed Advisors to try to arm them with better technology and better tools so that they can use some of this data that we have from a wide geography to help place products at a local level. And so I think they really have become a strong resource to help variety selection at a grower level.

    Carah Hart: To wrap us up today, do any of you all have final advice or recommendations to soybean farmers as they begin to make their plans for the 2022 season? We'll start with Ryan.

    Ryan Fuller: I guess my closing comments would be there's been lot of change in the industry over the years, and a lot of that change is beneficial and for all of our benefits, specifically the farmer, the customer. So utilize the technology, the information that's out there. Work with your local seed experts in your purchasing decision. Really understand your farm and the variation that you have even within your acres to make that best individual seed selection to set you up for the best success in 2022.

    Carah Hart: There's been a lot of talk about perhaps an increase in soybean acres. And I think that's yet to be determined at this time, but there could be a lot of interest going into 2022, Ryan.

    Ryan Fuller: That's absolutely right. And that brings me a lot of energy.

    Carah Hart: Mike, what would you like to share as we wrap things up?

    Mike Tollefson: Yeah, I think we certainly are seeing that increased interest in soybeans. There's a lot of questions, but also, as you mentioned, a lot of interest and there's going to be a lot of acres. And so the herbicide trait platform have definitely grabbed a lot of attention. They've kind of been the highlight the last couple of years, but I think in today's current environment, you really have to decide first and foremost, which trait platform you're going to be on. And then once you make that decision, then you can begin to look at genetics within that trait platform. But it really is important to keep genetics in mind so that, again, we have the right defensive traits to match the acre.

    Carah Hart: When we think about product availability for next year, Mike, I know that that factors into a farmer's decision probably for the seed selection. So is there anything you'd like to say about things that they should prioritize as they make their seed selections? Whether it should be genetics or cost of production or anything in those lines?

    Mike Tollefson: Yeah. Yep. I think maybe there is some concern, particularly in the northern and western areas of the U.S., because we... In a sense, seed companies are farmers when it comes to growing their seed. It's a living, viable product. And so there was some drought in the West, and that affected seed production a bit. We anticipate having enough seed this year. It's not like I'm trying to drum up fear of shortage here, but it will play in a bit. And so I think it is good to sit down with your seed supplier early and talk about supply and get those varieties that make sense for your farm booked this year.

    Carah Hart: Ryan, Mike, thanks so much for your expertise today, it’s been great to have you on this podcast. This is Golden Harvest’s We're All Ears. There are only two more episodes left. Join us next week for an interesting conversation about the carbon market, emissions trading, sustainability in ruminants, and what this all means for farmers. You won't want to miss it. So subscribe to We're All Ears on your preferred podcast streaming platform. We're on Apple Podcasts®, Google Podcasts, and Spotify®. And remember, just like you're listening, we're listening, too. So join the conversation and interact with us at Golden Harvest on Facebook and Twitter, or @GoldenHarvestSeeds on Instagram. And tell us what you thought of the episode. Thanks for listening to We're All Ears. We'll catch you in the next episode.

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  • November 23, 2021

    E07: Taking the CO2 Out of Corn

    In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carbon emissions trading has become a hot topic in the global agriculture industry. What does participating in the carbon market mean for farmers? How do ruminant animals, such as cattle, tie into the carbon conversation? Find out in this week’s episode, as Carah Hart is joined by Liz Hunt, head of sustainable and responsible business at Syngenta, and Chris Cook, head of Enogen at Syngenta Seeds.

    Episode Transcript

    Carah Hart: Welcome back farmers. This is We're All Ears, the Golden Harvest podcast miniseries airing throughout harvest 2021. My name is Carah Hart. I'm glad you're listening in today. Last episode, we talked recommendations for creating the best 2022 soybean crop plans. This week, we're diving into the carbon market to understand what role farmers can play in it, in addition to identifying opportunities where farmers can get more sustainable, economical and productive in their operations.

    I'm here with Liz Hunt, head of sustainable and responsible business at Syngenta, and Chris Cook, head of Enogen at Syngenta Seeds, to help out. Let's get started. This is We're All Ears. Hey there, Liz and Chris, we can't wait to dive into this week's topic. Before we get started, tell us a little bit more about your experience in agriculture and what you do in your current roles. Liz, we'll start with you.

    Liz Hunt: Great. Thanks for the introduction. So Liz Hunt, I lead our sustainable and responsible business team for Syngenta. I grew up on a small farm in eastern Iowa and have a background in flower breeding, actually, and have been working in the sustainability space for several years here at Syngenta. My team and I work across our commercial businesses to look for opportunities to help growers tell their sustainability story, particularly through data, and looking at their on-farm data to better look at that through a lens of sustainability. Also work with our portfolio as well on how our portfolio can contribute to sustainable outcomes. And then also leading our efforts around our Good Growth Plan, which are our commitments to sustainable agriculture.

    Carah Hart: Liz, you have a very interesting job. Thanks for sharing a little bit more about it. And Chris, tell us a little bit more about what you do with Syngenta.

    Chris Cook: Yeah, Carah. So I actually head the Enogen business today, and I've done that for about the last two years, and you'll learn a little bit about Enogen as we get into our conversation. I always think it's interesting. All my friends were farmers when I was growing up, and I started out in the grocery business. I always thought I was going to be a grocery store owner and got into agriculture because I just wanted to be a farm kid like everybody else. So I spent the better part of my degree, actually, as an agronomist, and did that and then got into stewardship and stakeholder relations. And so now in the Enogen business I feel like I have the ability to pull it all together from the grocery store all the way to agronomy and how do we actually produce a better steak or a better gallon of milk.

    Carah Hart: Thanks, Chris. Let's go ahead and dive into some background information about our topic today: a carbon market 101 for farmers. Liz, can you give an overview of carbon emissions trading and what it means practically for farmers?

    Liz Hunt: Sure. So agriculture carbon markets are emerging as a mechanism to influence change for on-farm production practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There's certain agricultural practices that can also mitigate against some of the impacts of climate change by sequestering more carbon in the soil or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So to just give kind of an overview of how these work, kind of have to think of kind of a whole system of approach here, and it really starts with all companies are generating emissions. It's just part of doing business. Every business is going to generate emissions in one way or another, and they look at that kind of across their entire footprint. So from the inputs of ingredients or manufacturing materials through whatever's happening within their own four walls to getting the product to consumers and consumers using that product. So they go ahead and look across that, and that defines what their emissions footprint is.

    So some companies are looking to achieve net zero emissions or be carbon neutral, and that's being driven by a number of different factors, but in order to achieve that, there's certain things that they can do within their production or their manufacturing or their operations. But then they have to look outside of that to find opportunities to meet their commitments. And agriculture and forestry practices are seen as one of those potential solutions that can reduce or sequester carbon in the soil. So these benefits, what these practices that are adopted, and we hear a lot about no-till or cover crops, with those practices, we can measure what that carbon reduction or carbon sequestration is. And then we can assign a value to that.

    And those are always measured in CO2 equivalents. So all the greenhouse gases are then broken down into a CO2 equivalent. And then those credits are then sold through registries to companies who are seeking to reduce their footprint or have done everything that they can and can't quite get there on their own, so they need to look for other opportunities. So those emitters and then people who can fix the problem sell it and back to the company.

    Carah Hart: So essentially a way for companies to stay green in a lot of ways.

    Liz Hunt: Yeah, it's a way for companies to meet their commitments depending on what their driving factors are. Yep. So as we look across this, though, there's different carbon markets, so not all are created equal. So just really understanding what the different types are out there. And I've tried to kind of break it down into kind of simple ways to understand it because that helps me to better understand kind of how these things are coming together. And there are more regulatory markets, so those would be regulated credit trading. So these carbon credits are traded on a regulated asset market. So there's laws in place that say you can emit as a company a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions. If you go over that amount, then you need to bring it down. Or if you're under that amount, then you can sell credits to other folks.

    So it's often referred to as a cap-and-trade type of program. So that is one of the regulated programs, and probably the best example of that is the California cap-and-trade program, which I am sure quite a few farmers are familiar with from ethanol markets. The other way to think about this is more voluntary credit trading. So this is really kind of more similar to what I was describing earlier, where companies have voluntarily made commitments to reduce their emissions or reach carbon neutral. And they're going to acquire credits against that. So they're doing that voluntarily driven by whatever factors that are driving them to do that.

    So that's a little bit more of what we're seeing emerge across the landscape right now for agriculture, is more voluntary credit trading, and then really looking at voluntary funding, and that's really to bring funding to the agriculture community to help implement different practices on the ground that can help with emissions reductions on the farm or carbon sequestration. And oftentimes, those really are falling within a company's supply chain, so for the manufacturer of ingredients, for example.

    Carah Hart: So Liz, how should farmers decide if and which carbon market type to be involved in?

    Liz Hunt: Sure. So it's going to be a personal decision for each of the farmers, and they'll have to make that for themselves. But there's some fundamental requirements that farmers can consider as they are looking at the carbon markets and what makes sense for them. So understanding some of the basics, like what are the practice requirements that I would need to adopt, if I have adopted practices in the past, do those count or are there rules in place around what's called additionality, which says, "Hey, you've got to do something new on farm in order to generate a credit," understanding the length of the contract for how long do you need to continue a practice or continue providing data, looking at some of the administration, if there's additional fees and such, do you need to do soil sampling, how frequently do you need to do soil sampling, and just understanding the applicability of those practices to your geography and your farm.

    Chris Cook: Well, and if I could build on that a little bit too, Liz, and one of the things you brought up, contracts, is really important, not only how long might this carbon contract be for, is it two years or three years or four years or one year, whatever that is, but also, if you're renting ground, you need to be mindful as well of what the agreement is that you have in place with your landlord, because that may have an effect on what you can do, not only just in the length of time, but what you can actually do with those acres as well.

    Carah Hart: Liz, what kind of commitments are agriculture companies making around climate and carbon?

    Liz Hunt: Sure. So I think a lot of agriculture companies see that they can play a role in these emissions reductions opportunity. And every company is going to look at things a little bit differently based on their needs, based on their footprint, based on what they're emitting, and based on what their potential is for actionable changes.

    If we take Syngenta, for example, Syngenta has our Good Growth plan, which are our commitments to sustainable agriculture. And one of our commitments there is striving for carbon neutral agriculture. So we have made a commitment, for example, to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations by 50% by 2030, so looking for opportunities to optimize production of the inputs that are going into our products over time.

    Carah Hart: What do these company actions essentially mean for consumers?

    Liz Hunt: So some of the companies' actions for consumers, so this can bring more sustainable products to markets, and that's something that several consumers are looking for to better understand the sourcing of the products that they're buying or the food that they're eating and having better transparency to how that food is being produced.

    Carh Hart: Speaking of identifying opportunities where farmers can be more sustainable, economical, and productive in their operations, Syngenta's corn portfolio includes Enogen® hybrids, which offer some sustainability advantages in ruminant animals like cattle.

    Chris, could you share more about the advantages that Enogen hybrids offer in terms of conserving carbon, water, electricity and land use?

    Chris Cook: Yeah. So Enogen is a corn hybrid, and it was brought forward about 10 years ago. And primarily, it was used in the biofuel space. But over time, we found feed efficiencies when using Enogen. We found that through university testing at University of Nebraska, K State, Penn State, Ohio State. And every time we did studies, we continue to find about 5% feed efficiency. And that sounds like a really convenient number. But ironically, that is, in fact, the number that it continued to come up with, is about 5%. If we fed it as silage, it was about 5% as whole corn, dry rolled corn, steam flake corn. Whatever we did, it was always about 5%.

    That all sounds great. Where it really gets interesting, though, is when you start to think about the implications of 5%. And I had an account lead tell me just today, said, "I was talking to a grower about using Enogen, and what was interesting is they were hauling manure at the time. And I said, "What if you could haul 5% less manure?" And they're like, "Amen. I'd love to be able to haul less than that."

    That's part of what we do. When it takes 5% less to feed that animal to get the same product out the other side, you can do a lot more, right? So maybe it's 5% less electricity that you need, it's 5% less manure, 5% less water. Water's a big topic for people. 5% less land to create the same crops. All that are things that tie together into what Enogen can really bring into the marketplace. And we think it's a real advantage.

    Where we see that advantage really get interesting is a lot of what Liz was talking about, right? There's companies that are looking for offsets. They're saying, "Hey, we want to do something that brings the better value. We've changed all the light bulbs we can, changed the fleet as much as we can. We need something more." And that's where Enogen can come into play.

    We did some work around something called a life cycle analysis, and I'm sure Liz can probably explain it better than I.

    Carah Hart: Yeah. Before we get into that real in depth, I know life cycle analysis, not everyone listening to the podcast may know what that is. Can Liz or Chris, either of you, jump in and explain a little bit more what this is before we get too much in depth with the life cycle analysis?

    Liz Hunt: Yeah.

    Chris Cook: I'll probably let Liz do it because generally it's my kids telling me what I shouldn't do. But we'll let Liz do it.

    Liz Hunt: Great. Thanks for that, Chris. Yeah. It's one of those geeky sustainability terms, but a life cycle analysis, it's really a tool for analyzing the environmental impacts and resources used throughout a product's life. So it looks from the raw material extraction that goes into producing a product, all the way through the product use and end of life or disposal of that product. And in the agriculture or food space, it's really considered the gold standard for understanding the environmental impacts of a product across agriculture. So that's a life cycle assessment, or life cycle analysis.

    Chris Cook: So, if you look at Enogen and you think about the life cycle analysis, which is essentially it's cradle to grave, right? How does Enogen perform from the beginning all the way to the end, versus the corn you're using today? And what we see with Enogen, when you look at that 5% feed efficiency, is we see on one thousand head of cattle, we'd save about 35 passenger cars off the road annually, about 50 football fields worth of land, 9 Olympic swimming pools, 25 homes. But you take that and expand that out to one hundred million cattle in the US, those are really serious numbers. And that's what is, to me, that's what really intrigued some of the down the value stream players, when they think about three and a half million cars on one hundred million cattle, or 5 million football fields or two and a half million homes, I mean, that's really having a significant impact and it's really exciting.

    Carah Hart: Chris, is there anything else you can share about what's been done across the value chain to enhance sustainability from a carbon perspective?

    Chris Cook: Well, as I look really back over my days in agronomy, and once you're an agronomist, you're always an agronomist. That's just the way it is. You can look at a lot of things that are changed. I think back to when I decided I wanted to be in agriculture, back when we were in the grocery business, and I'd go out and work for my friends. They set me in the tractor and I moldboard plowed. And that's just not the way we do it today because we follow, not only are there better ways to till the land, but there's better ways to save the soil. There's better ways to be more productive. All of those things that we just thought were a better way to do it, were also sustainable as we moved away from pounds of active ingredient to ounces or quarter ounces of active ingredient on a per acre basis.

    Again, that drives things that are more sustainable. And sustainable is the same as return on investment, because if you're doing the right thing, it's going to bring more to your bottom line as well. So as I look at the improvement in hybrids, hey, here's the new products coming out, they're going to perform better. That drives sustainability. They manage water better. They manage the fertility better, all those things help in driving sustainability.

    Carah Hart: What about the livestock industry and all aspects of the value chain, and maybe Liz can add in something here.

    Liz Hunt: Yeah. So as I look at what's happening across the whole value chain, I think there's increased recognition that in order to achieve sustainable outcomes, it's really important to be able to partner. So there's more willingness in the value chain to work more closely with farmers to help with resources, whether that's technical resources or input resources and such, to achieve these outcomes. So nobody can do it alone and it's really great to see that's being recognized.

    Carah Hart: Chris, do you have anything else to add to that?

    Chris Cook: Well, I think it's a lot of what Liz was talking about. When you think about the value chain, there's consumers on the end of that, that are saying, "Hey, we want to know where our food comes from. We want to know it was more sustainably produced." And that drives behaviors by everybody in the value chain, from the retailer that's selling it, to the processor that's converting it from raw milk into pasteurized milk on your shelf or into a steak, whatever it is, to the feedlot or the dairy and how they're producing it. Everybody along that chain is looking at it saying, we need to do something different. And some, to Liz's point, are making a statement saying we're going to be net zero by 2030 or 2040, and that's driving behaviors. But everybody through the chain is finding things that they're doing a little bit different and doing a little bit better to help deliver on that.

    Carah Hart: What's the approach if farmers are already doing great things. I think one of the questions that I know we get here at the network about these carbon markets are, this seems like it's set up for farmers who haven't started to do environmental changes or haven't started to make environmental changes on their farm to incentivize them to start doing that. But what happens to the farmers or what's available for the farmers who've been doing this for years?

    Liz Hunt: Yeah. So there's a couple of ways to look at that. One is, there are different programs and offers out there that are looking back to reward those growers who have been leaders in their community by adopting practices and demonstrating that they can be successful in certain geographies. So there's certainly those opportunities that exist. And then I would also encourage farmers to look, is there something else that they could add to their already good practices that can help them make them even better than they already are? So just understanding the rules of the road and what's available to you. So I think there's certainly a place for everybody in this whole conservation space.

    Carah Hart: Chris, is there anything else you want to add to that?

    Chris Cook: No, I mean, I think Liz is right. I mean, there's opportunity everywhere you turn with this. It's just, Liz makes this comment every day that the carbon market changes every two hours, is it? 30 minutes? Something like that. So as we move forward, it's going to continue to change in shape, but it's something that's, I think it's here to stay. I think as we move forward, you're going to see water come more and more into play and there's real opportunity.

    Carah Hart: So as we wrap up this conversation, what else would you like to share with farmers who are looking to join the carbon market? Liz, we can start with you.

    Liz Hunt: Yeah. I think it goes back to some of the things that we were talking about at the beginning, but if there's one common denominator across carbon markets or as other, Chris just mentioned, water as other ecosystem service markets emerge, it's going to require record keeping. So now is a great time, if farmers haven't been keeping their best digital records, now's a really good time to do that and really get your data house in order and some of these markets will want to look back, but regardless, they'll all be looking for verifiable records. And Chris touched on this, but understanding some of the land rental agreements that you're in and whether they enable you to participate or not. Know that this is kind of new, there certainly have been agriculture carbon markets in the past, but there's a lot of more emphasis and I think there's a lot more folks looking to see how this can work well for agriculture this time around. And really work closely with your agronomist, work closely with your trusted advisor, to understand how these practices will work for you, focus on strong agronomy, focus on growing and producing the best crop that you can and understanding how these practices will play into that.

    Carah Hart: Liz, what do you think of cover crops and the implementation of something like that? We're seeing a little bit more this year. It seems interest, at least in my area of the country, that Dakotas-Minnesota territory, it seems like after the high winds this year, to improve soil conditions, a lot of folks have been out and seeding some cover crops. And I wondered, where does that fit into all of this?

    Liz Hunt: Yeah. So cover crops are certainly a space where there's a lot of interest and they're one of the list of practices that farmers can consider to incorporate into their operation. I think it's important to learn from farmers who have been doing cover crops, work with your local agronomists and resources to understand how they would work for you and understand what is the right mix for your geography. Because everybody's going to be a little bit different. But really, doing what you can to learn. There's a lot of good cover crop seed suppliers out there who have a lot of great resources that can point you to what would work. Up in your area, in North Dakota, versus other places, maybe central Illinois where it's going to be a completely different game.

    Carah Hart: Are there other practices that you're seeing, the folks that are signing up for these programs that really have an interest in, are there some areas of conservation where they're really gravitating towards, any trends?

    Liz Hunt: Yeah. When you read about these or hear some of the headlines around carbon markets and ecosystem service markets, it's really looking at practices like conservation tillage, or there's still plenty of opportunity for that to be adopted across the agriculture landscape. For certain cover crops there's also looking at nutrient management as well. And a lot of folks are already doing variable rate applications, but then there's some folks where that's still an opportunity for them. Or even just giving a good look at your land and understanding the productivity and their opportunities to transition some of that land to biodiversity habitats, like pollinator habitats and things like that. So the list is certainly longer than cover crops and tillage practices. And that’s why I would encourage folks to look to see what works for them. It doesn't have to be everything. It can be just one thing. And just start to try, just start somewhere to see what would work for you that fits your agronomic system.

    Carah Hart: Chris, what else do you have to add as we wrap things up here today?

    Chris Cook: Probably just two thoughts, and both already been shared. I mean the first one is, sustainability, whether it be carbon markets or water, conservation tillage, it's going to have a positive return on investment for you. The ROI has got to be there, and sustainability drives ROI and ROI drives sustainability and they go hand-in-hand and, to Liz's point, which is my second one is, and she says it all the time, it's just one thing. You don't need the dump the whole bucket and start over. What you need to look at is, is there one thing I can do in my operation that I can tweak a little bit, maybe it's the way you're doing tillage or maybe it's whatever. The products that I'm using on the farm. It only takes one thing and try that. And it may not work the first time, try something different, but it just takes one little thing and once you find the right niche, then maybe a year from now or two years from now, try one more thing. But it needs to drive ROI and you know what, it'll be a benefit for you and really long term for your whole operation as well.

    Carah Hart: Chris, Liz, thank you so much for sharing your insight on the role that agriculture plays in the carbon market. This is Golden Harvest We're All Ears. And the next episode is our final of the year. Join us next week as we wrap up by reviewing this year's harvest and answering some audience submitted questions as we look ahead to next season. Subscribe to We're All Ears on your preferred podcast streaming platform so you won't miss it. We're on Apple Podcasts®, Google Podcasts, and Spotify®. And remember, just like you're listening, we're listening too. So join the conversation and interact with us at Golden Harvest on Facebook and Twitter or at Golden Harvest Seeds on Instagram. And tell us what you think of this miniseries. Thanks for listening to We're All Ears. We'll catch you next week for our final episode.

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  • December 1, 2021

    E08: A Harvest Homage: Lending Our Ears to Farmer Questions

    Corn and soybean harvest season is wrapping up, but the work doesn’t stop here. For this episode of “We’re All Ears,” we’re reviewing this season’s harvest and talking post-harvest preparations for the 2022 corn and soybean growing season. And when we said we’re all ears, we meant it — stay tuned for the end of the episode where we answer audience-submitted questions! Our host Carah Hart is joined by Andy Heggenstaller, Syngenta Seeds head of agronomy, and Justin Welch, head of digital ag for Syngenta Seeds, in the final episode of “We’re All Ears.”

    Episode Transcript

    Carah Hart: We've come a long way, farmers. This is We're All Ears, the Golden Harvest Podcast miniseries coming to you throughout harvest 2021. I'm Carah Hart. Thanks for joining us for the final episode of the year. We've discussed a lot in this miniseries. In the previous episode, we explored the carbon market and how farmers fit into it all. But in these past couple of weeks, we’ve also examined weather extremes, disease management, the corn and soybean market, seed production, crop planning for 2022, and so much more.

    For this final episode, we're going to start out talking harvest wrap-up and post-harvest prep for the 2022 corn and soybean growing season. And when we said we’re all ears, we meant it. Stay tuned until the end to hear answers from some of our listener submitted questions.

    So to make sure our listeners are putting their best foot forward as we wrap up harvest 2021 and march on to the 2022 growing season, I'm joined today by Syngenta Seeds Head of Agronomy Andy Heggenstaller and Justin Welch, head of digital ag for Syngenta Seeds. Hi, Andy and Justin. As harvest comes to a close, we are excited now to look ahead to 2022. Can you two tell us a little bit more about you and your experience in agriculture industry?

    Andy Heggenstaller: Hey, Carah. Hey, it's so great to be here today. As you said, I'm the head of agronomy at Syngenta Seeds. In that role, I work with our commercial agronomy team and our technical agronomy team. We're in a really cool and unique position within the organization where we're within the sales team, but we are the primary point of contact with our R&D organization. And we have the fun and sometimes challenging responsibility of working between those two teams and our marketing teams.

    I grew up on a small farm in Pennsylvania, spent most of my career in the seed industry with a couple of different companies, primarily in sales management and agronomy roles. I also spent a lot of years at Iowa State University, where I went to graduate school and studied agronomy.

    Carah Hart: Well, Andy, it's good to get to know you a little bit. Justin, tell us a little bit more about you.

    Justin Welch: Howdy. Glad to be here. Glad to be with Andy and yourself. My name is Justin Welch. I'm the head of digital ag for Syngenta Seeds here in the US. And I've been with the company a few years, but I've got 25 years of precision ag nerd work in my background. I started in ag retail for about 15 years and did 10 years with another organization in the seeds business before coming to Syngenta.

    As part of my role and my team's role here is we work really hard to make sure that we're building software that really helps farmers drive higher revenue potential and help them manage their operations. We also develop software internally for our internal folks to make sure that when they're working with farmers, they can provide them value to help make sure our products are working in the way that they were designed.

    Carah Hart: What a very interesting job. And I understand, Justin, you and Andy at times work really closely together.

    Justin Welch: We definitely do. I mean, Andy and I, our backgrounds have crossed multiple times. If you look back through our history, we've done a lot of similar things in our background. Andy definitely could have represented digital on this call instead of myself and done a great job. And it's good to have him with me here to do this digital agronomy update with you.

    Carah Hart: Let’s go ahead and get started here. We started this podcast as corn and soybean harvest were just starting in October. And now, most of the regions of the Corn Belt are done with harvest or pretty close to finishing up. Andy, can you start by sharing some of the things that we have learned this harvest and the transition from this growing season to the next and what made that different?

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah, for sure. I can think of kind of three big ticket items. Obviously, where you are matters, right? It's different in North Dakota than it is in Illinois where I live. But for sure, I would say a common theme that I see across the regions that my team covers is many farmers feel like their corn and soybean yields were higher than they thought they could be based on the year they had.

    A number of farmers have told me in the last month or two that we always say that rain makes grain, and that rain in August into early September makes the soybean crop. And I can't tell you how many farmers, Carah, or how many situations we've come within Golden Harvest where the farmers said, "Well, I didn't get any rain in August, but I still grew 85-bushel soybeans."

    So we've had a tremendous crop given the stresses that we've been through this year, both corn and soybeans, whether it was areas of central Illinois where we had way too much rain or areas of North Dakota where we had effectively none. We've had really good production given a lot of the stresses we went through.

    The second thing I would say, and I bet we'll talk more about this, but in both crops, a year with a lot of interesting pest dynamics, particularly in corn, another record corn rootworm year in the upper Midwest, particularly Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, that in northern Illinois, we saw that trend set itself up in 2020. And I'm afraid to say, we're going to see more of it again next year.

    And then, of course, the story of the year in corn tar spot. And I'm sure we'll talk about that more later, but some big moves there. And probably talked about a little bit less, but something that's really on the move is we continue to watch southern rust move further and further north. And we can, again, maybe talk about that more later, but the corn side, definitely some pest dynamics. And of course, in the soybean side, we continue to see a lot of dynamism, if you will, in soybean trait platforms for herbicides and the decisions that growers are looking at there.

    We've seen that market swing in a big way in 2021. And then maybe to finally to cap it off, all that leading into a really unprecedented run-up in input prices. Farmers are looking at good commodity prices that seem to be strengthening here, but still looking at planning for 2022 being more complicated, I think, than we've seen in a long time. And I bet we'll talk more about that.

    Carah Hart: Well, Andy, you mentioned something that I know farmers in our coverage area, that northern tier of the Corn Belt farmers up here, I think, for the most part, like you say, pleasantly surprised with what they're seeing when it comes to yield. And we know that there's so much yield data can tell us about this season and also help us prepare for the next season. Andy, what should farmers be looking for in their yield data? How do they use that as a roadmap or the path forward for next year?

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah. One of my favorite topics, Carah, and one where Justin can weigh in, too. I mean, obviously, maybe just as a background point, we have seen over the last 12-15 years, particularly over the last five or six, a point where every farmer is experiencing and understanding yield on their farm in real time as they're harvesting.

    And I mean, that's just a lot different than what it was when I started my career. And so how farmers are thinking about data the real time, the spatial aspect of it, is just intensified. And that's a really good thing. Farmers get to understand what's happening on their farm with a level of quantitativeness, if that's a word, and real time that we haven't had before.

    But I think the thing that I would recommend hasn't actually changed much in the last 25 years, is that data is really good. And we're not obviously going to select a hybrid that didn't perform well on our farm, but I always encourage farmers to think about that unless they're farming across multiple states or something like that make sure you're looking at data beyond your farm too. And we know that environments vary from year to year. And I think it's really important as we're making those decisions that we're not only looking at the data in our farm.

    One of the things as growing up as a farmer and now working in the role I do that I've always reflected on, is at this time of year, more so than I think most realize, what we're doing at a seed company right now is not that different than what they're doing. My team and I are very busy right now, looking at data from all of the pre-commercial trials, making the decisions of what's the portfolio we're going to sell next year. And we always have to fight against what's called recency bias where a particular product performed really well this year, but we have a broader set of data over more years in environments. And we always have to go back to that.

    That's the same exact thing that's playing out for every farmer right now that's trying to make decisions. And again, my advice would be start with what's on your farm and look for data and performance data that comes from other similar places before you make those final decisions on what the portfolio's going to be on your farm next year.

    Justin Welch: Andy's comments make perfect sense about that recency bias. I mean the best hybrids in history lose 25% of the time, one out of every four times. What people have called staple products in the industry will have a bad day or a bad year, and making sure that they're looking at the long-term consequences of making that short-term decision off of one year or one field or one example, and being able to use what Andy said is pull all their data together to make a better decision for longer term decisions.

    Carah Hart: Justin, what role can digital ag technology play in evaluating field data?

    Justin Welch: It's going to play a bigger role in the future, I think. I mean, we've been collecting yield data for 25 years and I still don't think we perfected how farmers can use that to really make better decisions in their operation or to change management practices. And I think that as we move forward, there's been a lot of work done in this space over the last five years around this idea that we have information now, what should we do with it? And having planting data and yield data, and now bringing environmental conditions together, it's really going to help farmers put that data to use that they've been collecting for many, many years.

    The other thing that we're seeing is this predictiveness in season. So if you think about in August having a better understanding of what is that combine going to see when I actually roll through the field as giving that prelude to harvest, I think is something that's been newer that's going to help farmers prepare even before they get the data from the combine to do analytics. So there's going to be some new things come in that space. That's going to allow farmers to make those decisions quicker than maybe they would've in the past.

    Carah Hart: How quick can farmers make decisions based off of that information, Justin, typically?

    Justin Welch: Well, I mean, I think that by the time we get to August, if we're doing our job in the future of knowing what the season has brought us, you talked about when you're in your neck of the woods, you didn't get a lot of rain at a different part of the year. If we're not already signaling that this could be an impediment for a certain variety or a certain hybrid, or we're seeing these conditions, we should be able to help bring that information in advance of harvest.

    And a lot of that is something we'll probably hit on a little bit, which is real-time agronomy. And how do we use that inside of software that allow for farmers to make simpler decisions before they typically would've done that?

    Carah Hart: And Justin, you work in a really quickly changing industry. What are the most exciting digital ag innovations you've noticed in the last year? And what could some of those innovations mean for corn and soybean farmers?

    Justin Welch: Yeah, I think what I've seen, and maybe if I go back even a little more than just the last year, what we've kind of seen is a little bit of reset on what this term “digital ag” actually means. And what what's really exciting for me and getting to sit next to Andy Heggenstaller is this idea that agronomy and digital are going to find their way to synergize together and start using these agronomy practices with real humans to make better decisions using software.

    And it's not about just creating software that is just magical that's going to tell you everything you need to know. It's being able to get back to real agronomy, but using digital assets in order to deploy that to farmers in real time. So you've got this human element, this AI element and agronomy elements that are going to come together to really make some cool digital tools for the end-season opportunities. We are also seeing automation become a bigger player. Auto steer's been around 20 years. But the driverless grain cart, I think, caught a lot of eyes over the last couple of years, thinking about how does us going from a light bar 20 years ago to doing auto steer 10 years ago to now having driverless vehicles. In agriculture, those are things that I think are going to become really intriguing as we think about the labor shortage in some different parts of the United States.

    Those technologies will probably tend to get adopted quicker. Those are kind of the two things that really, to me, are really exciting coming out of the last couple years.

    Carah Hart: Yeah. The driverless cart is really interesting to me, how advanced that is. Do you know how widely used that is yet, Justin?

    Justin Welch: It's still prototyping. You'll see it a lot on Twitter or YouTube videos of it. But as far as being in full commercial, it's still on its way to finding that adoption level.

    Carah Hart: Well, the constant innovation in the digital ag space also makes me think of the continuous innovation in the Syngenta Seeds portfolio. Andy, what can you share about the 2022 Golden Harvest® corn and soybean portfolio to help our listeners get excited for the next growing season?

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah, sure. I mean, literally as we talk, Carah, the teams in both crops, corn and soy, are getting ready to make those decisions here over the next five to seven days over what we're going to bring in terms of new products for next year. And because we haven't finished all that yet, I'll stop short of getting too specific about that. But here's what I'll say.

    It was about five years ago that Syngenta started making some really significant investments in our seeds business and in our R&D shop in particular. And if you look what's happened to over the last five years, you can really see that we're on the cusp of really transforming our seeds business and our portfolio.

    If you look at corn over the last couple of years, we have really moved forward with our 110- and 115-day portfolio that we have. And we're starting to harvest those investments, no pun intended.

    And then soybeans, I mean, what an exciting, maybe a little bit scary at times. But in soybeans, I think that we've seen this market shift to Enlist E3® soybeans in a big way this year. I don't think we're going to see that change. And I think for a lot of farmers, they've had a lot of interest in E3, but had a perception that maybe the E3 soybeans were all the same, that the agronomics and yield potential on those varieties wasn't there.

    And I can say quite confidently that may have been the case a year or so ago. But if we look at the portfolio of soybeans in Golden Harvest right now in both E3 and XtendFlex® soybeans, we have varieties that have all of the yield potential, all the agronomics. They're differentiated in the industry.

    And so, for those farmers who were making a decision to be in a particular soybean platform, because they felt like they needed to, because that was the only place they would get yield or agronomic traits like IDC or Phytophthora or white mold, that's over.

    I mean, we're at a point now and our portfolio is particularly strong and just a really, from an innovation standpoint, usually we get more excited about technology and corn. I would say right now that it's an exciting time for technology and soy. And I think that for those growers that had some interest in E3, the portfolios there, that there's no reason not to fully pursue that if that's what you want to do.

    Carah Hart: Thanks for sharing some of the new products, in the Golden Harvest portfolio, Andy.

    Now, let's switch gears a little bit. We've had so many great conversations throughout this podcast series with various ag industry experts. And now, we're delighted to bring in our listeners a little more closely to answer questions they've submitted on social media.

    Let's get right to it here. For our first question, one listener wants to know what was the biggest challenge corn and soybean farmers faced this year. Andy, would you like to kick things off here?

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah. That's a hard question because it's pretty big, right? The largest challenge that almost all farmers face every year is the weather. That sounds kind of cliché to say that, but I mean, it's the truth.

    And in different parts of the country face different weather challenges and whether it was in Minnesota and North Dakota, Carah, and your neck of the woods being really dry, or down more toward the central Corn Belt, where I live, and eastern Corn Belt where it was really wet in a lot of areas, that continues to be a big challenge.

    But just to go back to the soybean thing quickly, I think if there's a generality for many farmers, not all, is we've not had a bifurcated herbicide platform soybean market before. We're a couple years into that now. And as we saw the E3 market expand pretty significantly this year, we're at, I don't want to say, 50/50, but it's a pretty mixed market on average out there.

    And so I think there's a lot of concern from a lot of different farmers, whether they're using dicamba or their neighbor's using it. I think that's caused a lot of challenges, is there's a lot of uncertainty. And I think that uncertainty will continue, at least for a little while here. And so I think if they're growing soybeans, I think most farmers can share that challenge in some way, shape or form.

    And then again, finally, even though it wasn't for this crop, as we're leaving this crop year and heading to the next, man, what a challenging situation we have here as farmers are thinking about their crop rotation that they want to move into for next year. Justin was saying something to me about this before we started the podcast. But I mean, maybe he wants to speak to it a little bit more, but I think there's a lot of uncertainty for farmers given where different prices are at and where those prices and availability might go, whether it's corn, fertility costs or availability for corn production, or whether it's availability of crop protection chemicals for soybeans, I think there's a lot of uncertainty out there and a lot of things that farmers are going to need to work through over the next couple months.

    Justin Welch: That idea about budgeting's a big deal. And going to corn or soybeans isn't just as easy as making that decision. It's can I find the inputs that I need in order to grow my corn? Can I find the herbicides that I need to spray my beans? There's lots of things that are going to go into those decisions. And it'll be emotional, because most farmers get in a rotation, and those rotations are kind of what they are. And this year, they may have to make some tough choices on how they're going to follow that through.

    Carah Hart: What recommendations do you all have for 2022 planning when it comes to inputs?

    Andy Heggenstaller: So I'll be frank. I don't have magic advice here either. I'll say one thing though is as I look, and I'm no expert on farm economics to be clear, Carah, but as I look at the situation right now, if you're comfortable where you've been on your breakeven with corn in the past, in most cases, your corn is still probably – as we sit here today, this may change two days after we release this podcast – but I think in most of the core corn producing area, corn is still going to be the winner on ROI potential at the farm level. Now, again, there's so much variability in what farmers have locked in – their anhydrous or different input costs that the mileage can vary. But I do think that wide swings in going to soybeans where you would've been in corn last year, I just don't see that right now.

    Justin Welch: Yeah. There's the idea that if you're in corn country, you really like to grow corn. It's emotionally tied to you. I grew up in eastern Corn Belt, and we didn't mind growing soybeans. And we could grow pretty good soybeans. And having that flexibility of that crop, I think, will be interesting to see where the different regions of the US shake out for this year.

    Carah Hart: I think that's an interesting point to bring up because where I live in the North, we have a little bit more diversity. Corn and soybeans are a big piece of the puzzle up here too. But there are other are crops that come into play too. That crop rotation moving forward could be a very interesting thing to follow.

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah. And you're right, Carah. In your market, whether it's sugar beets, wheat, there's a lot even more complexity that those growers are dealing with than down in here in the United States where Justin and I find ourselves today.

    Carah Hart: Moving back to corn, Andy, the next listener wants to know – corn rootworm was, of course, a big issue for many this year. And thinking ahead to 2022, should they plan to plant traited hybrids in addition to using an insecticide? What are your thoughts?

    Andy Heggenstaller: My thoughts are, it depends on your pressure level. So in the ideal situation, which we're not always in, and we can talk about what we do when we're not in the ideal situation, but in the ideal situation, we have some measurement or some idea of what the pressure level that we faced this year was. The most common way that we get that information is with those little yellow sticky traps. We see some companies coming forward now with soil test that can give us an indication of what the larval pressure that was put in the field is.

    In an ideal situation, we have some understanding of that pressure and we base our management practices off of that. And so, if we're in a really high-pressure environment, then, there are oftentimes going to be advantages, Carah, to stacking your traits with your soil and plant and insecticide.

    But just because one field on a farm had high pressure this year, it doesn't always mean that another field did. And so to just prophylactically apply and insecticide to the entire farm because you had high pressure in some fields is probably not the best economic decision. The way that we look at it and my team is do what you can to know your pressure if you're able to do that. If you can't do it quantitatively, then at least try to have some idea of the differences you saw in adults between your fields. And in those medium- to low-pressure fields, use a pyramidal rootworm trait stack.

    So at Golden Harvest, that would be our Agrisure Duracade®-traited corn. That would be what we would recommend for those moderate to lower pressure fields in rootworm country. And then, when we get to those fields that we know that there was really high pressure or that we'd believe there was really high pressure, those are the cases where we would look to combine and a soil-applied insecticide with traits in those really high-pressure environments.

    And the question farmers will ask me sometimes about that is, "Well, why am I buying your traits if you're telling me I have to use an insecticide?" And the truth of the matter is those traits have been revolutionary for what they've allowed us to do in corn production. Those traits, despite the fact that we have documented resistance for some of them, those traits are still effective, highly effective. But keep in mind that when those larva are taking those bites out of those corn roots, if there's thousands of those larva per acre, they have to eat the root. And then, some time has to go by before they die.

    And if the initial pressure is really, really high, you can't kill them fast enough with the protein that's being expressed in the roots. And that's where soil-applied insecticide can help control that early pressure and then let the trait carry it through the rest of that growing season.

    And so again, I do not recommend that as a general practice. But when our pressure's high, bringing those two practices together is going to be the best recommendation for success.

    Carah Hart: Justin, where does digital fall into play when we evaluate fields that may have corn rootworm damage from this year?

    Justin Welch: Well, for us, it would start with our seed selector process of making sure that farmers have the right portfolio of products when they're buying from us. And so, as we think about this idea field by field placement of hybrids or varieties, traits are an absolute story that go into that mix because there may be certain fields that we're going to choose only from rootworm traited products like Agrisure Duracade, or there may be other fields where we are in complete rotation where maybe we're okay to just run a Agrisure Viptera®-type product.

    And so that idea of how traits play into a seed selection and making that portfolio as a whole, that's something that we've worked really hard on over the last few years because, as Andy said, this isn't something that's going away anytime soon. We're going to continue to having to make some of these tough decisions on traits, no traits, traits plus other management practices for time to come.

    Carah Hart: So we've got another listener question here. This one about tar spot, tar spot being seen in this listener's corn field, actually multiple corn fields, they say this year. Should they assume that tar spot will also be in their field next season? And if so, how should they prepare for it? And what are the recommendations for managing? This sounds like an Andy question.

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah. It's the question du jour this fall, for sure. And so I wish I could say you have it in field number one this year, you have a high risk to have it there next year or vice versa. Unfortunately, I can't. I'd take everybody back to 2017, at least if you were in a kind of central, eastern Corn Belt in 2017. So in 2017, virtually, none of us knew anything about the tar spot complex, right? We were all kind of naive. We didn't know it existed. It was a big deal in 2017. What happened in 2018, Justin? How much tar spot did we have in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, eastern Iowa in 2018?

    Justin Welch: Yeah. Depended on geographies, but I mean, it comes and goes, right? Is that where you're heading?

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah. Yeah. That's my point, right? We saw it get pretty bad in 2017, probably not as bad as it was this year. And then it just kind of was their care at a low level for the last several years. And now, it blew up again. And so, we talk about that disease triangle. We need to have a susceptible host. We need to have a pathogen and that third leg of the triangle. Everything else in farming becomes the big deal, the environment.

    And so what we know is that when we have these really high moisture nighttime conditions that this can lead to the infection of these spores. And so while definitely the presence of the spores is on the residue in this year's field, you could have a field that was in soybeans this year that you could potentially have tar spot in next year. You could have a field that was in corn this year, and you had a lot of pressure.

    And if the environment's not right in that local area next year, you might not see it be a big problem. The one thing to keep in mind with tar spot is when it comes in, determines everything. If it comes in later in August, it tends to be a pretty superficial disease that's really just, you see it, but it's not causing a lot of problems in terms of your yield potential or your bottom line.

    But when we get into situations where those environmental conditions bring it in July, then, we set ourselves up to have a big problem. So here's my biggest piece of advice on these. Three items, number one, hybrids vary considerably. There's ton of variability within and across genetic providers, seed companies in the tolerance of their genetics to tar spot. So if you're worried about it for next year and most producers should have at least some concern, at least make sure that some of the genetics on your farm are well scored for tar spot, that they have tolerance.

    Number two, and most farmers don't want to hear this, but if it comes in early and heavy, it's going to require two fungicide applications to bring it under control. We know that it takes two to three weeks from the time that the spores arrive for the infection to fully set in. And before we actually see the spores, the problem started. And so this issue of how do we get in front of it with fungicides is challenging. There are a couple different folks out there that have some tools that can help us predict whether the environment is setting itself up for tar spot.

    The one I tend to look at is from the University of Wisconsin, an app called Tarspotter. It's just one example though of where it can tell us like, "Hey, you're having environmental conditions that are going to set you up for tar spot. And that's when we need to probably think about accelerating when we would apply a fungicide.

    Justin Welch: Tar spot this year, all of a sudden, did bloom back up, but I went back and looked. And when Andy was mentioning that a few years ago, it got pretty big. It's probably the top video I've had on Twitter since I've started like 18,000 views of tar spot rolling in and just decimating some corn. And people were intrigued then. And I reposted it this year because we saw this resurgence.

    And it was really interesting that farmers are still learning about this at times. And maybe we just got to keep promoting it. And I know Andy's team is all over making sure that there's material out there to help farmers make those decisions and help make sure that it's not going to be something that takes them down next year.

    Carah Hart: That's a really good point, Justin. And I was actually going to ask Andy a similar question of that because there are areas I know of the Corn Belt that aren't as familiar with tar spot. What do you even look for? And what should you be aware of just in case the conditions are just right for it?

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, just real quickly in terms of where tar spot is, we saw a pretty major range expansion. Before this year, the idea that there was tar spot west of Des Moines was unheard of, or even in as far west as Des Moines, we now had confirmed tar spot in eastern Nebraska.

    So the range, what happens with a lot of new pests when they enter an area is they have kind of a latent period. They first show up and then their range kind of quietly expands before they're everywhere. So I would say that everybody who's growing to corn, at least in the central Corn Belt should be prepared that it's a reality.

    And like I said before, we get these really distinct lesions that as the name of the pathogen would, or the disease would imply, they look like little specs of tar, but they oftentimes are not visible to the eye for several weeks before the infection is begun. And that's why, again, I would encourage folks who are really wanting to be ahead of this. The two, I think, biggest things you can do are look at the tar spot ratings on the hybrids you're planting. And it doesn't mean that every hybrid on your farm needs to be rated as best in class for tar spot, but probably bring some diversity in.

    At Golden Harvest, we have some really strong hybrids against tar spot. Everywhere from the hundred-day, the 95-day, clear up to the 100-, 115-day. And then number two, take some time to learn about. And I don't want to go into all of it right here. We've published some really good stuff in Golden Harvest in the last several weeks, but understanding those environmental conditions, it's really those nighttime temperatures and dew levels and moisture leaf wetness conditions that create the environment and start to understand what those environmental conditions are and be willing.

    If we have everything set up in a bad way that it's going to get to set in in July, be prepared to make a fungicide application earlier than you might otherwise have been planning to do.

    Justin Welch: And Andy, with that quick turnaround time, is there an opportunity that maybe a second fungicide application could almost be called for?

    Andy Heggenstaller: For sure. Yeah. I think that where we're seeing the recommendations, not just from Golden Harvest, not even just from Syngenta, but from universities, other providers, other crop protection businesses, is that in tar spot, if the environment is going to set itself up for tar spot early, that we're going to be in a two-fungicide system. I've heard people talk about three, but I think that if we really have it come in early and heavy, it's going to be a double dose, Justin.

    Carah Hart: All right, guys, we have another, and perhaps our final listener question of this episode, I think this is probably more Andy-targeted too, but, Justin, feel free to add in as needed here: which hybrids and varieties of corn and soybeans were the top performers this harvest? And I know there are quite a few probably to pick from, but maybe just name the top two or three that you can think of. We'll start with Andy.

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah. I'll focus on corn, Carah. That's where my head's at right here today and the data that I've been poring over with the team, and we've been looking at and just maybe a couple. I mentioned our growing strength and that 110-day, but there's three products. And I won't spend a ton of time on each one, but between G10D21, G10L16 and G11V76, between those three 100-day or 111, just three outstanding products for us. They're going to fit in different environments and we're going to place them a little bit differently.

    In fact, between that 10D and 10L, we're going to treat them almost a 100% opposite, but those three hybrids have just had… And it's not the first year for each them either. They're going into their second or third year. These are top volume products widely available in Golden Harvest that everywhere from Nebraska to Illinois and in between within that 110-day market have just been outstanding for us.

    And then I guess, the other thing I'll point out quickly is if we look to that fuller season maturity, we launched two years ago. And it's just finishing its first really big year. And I know Justin's a big fan of this hybrid as well, but G15J91 has just been an outstanding 115-day hybrid. Again, widely adapted, probably be the second, if not first, largest volume product that we forecast for next year. I don't know. We'll see how it ends up, but that's just been a tremendous product.

    And we just launched last year, which so we're seeing the first real data come in for it in a commercial setting is G16Q82 in that full season maturity, particularly east. That product's been really strong for us. In that a hundred day and earlier, we've had some real stalwart products that have had outstanding performance for us this year as well, G02K39, G03R40 in that hundred and early hundred-day market.

    We can put a whole portfolio around all those products, but those I just went through have just been outstanding performance and are leading the way with our teams as we're out there helping farmers build their plans in corn for next year.

    Carah Hart: Is there anything else to add, maybe from a soybean perspective?

    Andy Heggenstaller: We have the leading E3 soybean portfolio in the marketplace. I mean, that's just a fact with the data. And it's been really exciting to see how we've been able to work with farmers in that portfolio.

    And it's a lot for us to juggle with my team. We have two totally different portfolios with the XtendFlex soybeans portfolio and the E3 soybeans portfolio. We turned both of those portfolios over, Carah, with 30 some new products last year. So we're just kind of settling into these new portfolios and sorting our way through them. We'll make some tweaks to them with the products that we advance here in the next couple of weeks for next year. But I can just say in both the trait platforms, XtendFlex and E3, we've easily across the whole portfolio got a couple bushels yield potential advantage over key competitors.

    And then, as we dig into certain maturity groups, it can be significantly greater than that. So a lot of excitement around those portfolios, just have corn on my brain here this afternoon.

    Carah Hart: Justin, is there anything you want to add to this?

    Justin Welch: Yeah, I mean, he hit 10D15J. If you ask me, those would've been my two, just for that 110, 115 market, which I know better. But the cool thing is two 110s, one 111. Why would you need all three of those? And really, it comes down to management and it comes down to different environments where they tend to succeed one over the other. And really, our digital tools, that's what makes it cool for me is having this variety of products for farmers to choose from. But we get to help make sure we're tailoring that to their management practices and the environment where they're going to place it. And so a lot of good products. But my answer would be let the Seed Selector help us choose which products you need to put on your farm.

    Carah Hart: Andy, Justin – as we wrap up this final episode of the We're All Ears Podcast miniseries, do you have any final parting words or pieces of advice to share with our listeners? Justin, we’ll start with you.

    Justin Welch: Yeah. I think that as you look into the next year, making those right crop rotations, making sure that your management is set up right, if you need help in some of those seed-making decisions on how your seed decision helps you make management decisions, those are things that I think are going to be a big focus for us over the next year. And my team is dedicated to helping farmers drive revenue on their operations. And that's what we look forward to for the ‘22 season.

    Andy Heggenstaller: Yeah, well said, Justin. And maybe, I'll just make two closing points, Carah. Number one, I think you can probably tell from our discussion here today that we're… Not just Justin and I, but Golden Harvest is dead serious about being a really competitive seed company and a real partner for our Seed Advisors and our customers.

    But at the same time, we want to have a good time. We want to have a positive experience with our growers. And this podcast to me has been an example of something different for us, something cool to do, and a way to tell our story and get feedback on what we're doing. And so I just look forward to the next season. We'll work through all of us. We'll work through our various challenges and opportunities to have connections like what we're doing here and the opportunity to do more of that in the future.

    Carah Hart: Thanks, Andy and Justin, for getting us excited and prepared the 2022 corn and soybean season. This for the last time in 2021 has been Golden Harvest We're All Ears. We hope this season's episodes brought you valuable insights to help your farm and your role in the overall agriculture industry. Subscribe to We're All Ears on your preferred podcast streaming platform, so you have all the episodes at the tips of your fingers. We're on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Spotify. And remember, just like you're listening, we're listening to, so join the conversation and interact with us at Golden Harvest on Facebook and Twitter, or at Golden Harvest Seeds on Instagram. And tell us what you thought of this podcast miniseries and what more you'd like to hear about.

    On behalf Golden Harvest Seeds and myself, thank you for listening to We're All Ears. And thank you for everything you do for agriculture. Wishing you all the best in 2022. Always read and follow label and bag tag instructions. Enlist E3® soybean technology is jointly developed with Dow AgroSciences LLC and MS Technologies LLC. Enlist E3® is a trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC.

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