The Systems Approach

The SekureCrop Management Program - Five Steps

Contact your Security Seed Agronomist today to find out how your farm could participate in the SekureCrop Wheat Program, and push for yields.

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Our SekureCrop Wheat Management system is a Total System’s Approach to raising a high yielding wheat crop. We’ve developed it over years of study on our Hopkinsville Research Farm: a five step program built to give the grower predictable results.

From pre-plant to harvest we take into account all inputs on the field and attempt to best manage limiting factors, to maximize grower profit.

This month we’re going to hear from several growers that have tried the program and had good results over the last few seasons, including even this year, when the weather really worked against this wheat crop.

But even in challenging years, the system works. It works because while the basic steps of the program are the same, it takes into account the specifics of the grower’s situation, managing limiting factors that can change during the season. From the pre-plant soil test through seed treatment selection, population, multiple applications of nitrogen and crop protection, a grower working with a Security Seed Agronomist and a SekureCrop rep can be confident that we’re working a system that’s proven to give a huge yield advantage over conventional practices.

We’re proud of the work that’s gone into developing this system, learning how these products interact with one another both on our research farm and in real world applications with real life farmers. It all comes down to Agronomics, which is not just agronomy, the science of growing crops, but also economics, the study of how to turn a profit making the right decisions.

When you read about the farmers who have used this system to add dollars to their farms’ bottom lines, you’ll see that this isn’t just a sales pitch about fertilizer, it’s the real life interaction of rainfall, population, nitrogen, and fertility and how critically important it is to know when and how to time product applications to capture those predictable results. That’s why we run hundreds of trials on the research farm every year: To show our growers what works and how and why to apply that to their operation.

Mark Morris

Mark Morris

Mark Morris operates Morris Farms in Pembroke, Kentucky, working with Security Seed Agronomist Ben Moser from the Hopkinsville Store. Over the last two years they’ve begun applying the SekureCrop Wheat Management Program to some of the acres on Morris Farms.

Working with his Security Seed Agronomist as well as SekureCropSolutions, Mark put down a test plot using the SekureCrop Wheat Management program, which has yielded a substantial benefit over acres not manged by the SekureCrop Program, which piqued his interest.

“Ben’s been pretty honest with me over the last several years and he brought the program to me and I thought starting off on a small scale would be something I’d be interested in. If it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be out a whole lot, but if it did work, it’s something I would be interested in,” said Morris.

Morris Farms faced the same challenging wheat year that everyone in western Tennessee and Kentucky faced. But his SekureCrop plots stood up to the challenging conditions and gave a return on his investment.

“I’m always trying to look forward, you’re dealing with what you’re dealing with today but you need to think about what you’re dealing with a month from now, a year from now,” Mark continued.

The multi-step process incorporated several agronomic steps including tissue testing to reveal limiting factors, including Magnesium and Boron on this year’s wheat crop. Some of the results were surprising.

“Some things seemed to be a problem but weren’t, and because of what we saw on the tissue test we did a foliar application of Boron with my second shot of nitrogen.

“It’s a systems approach and that’s the way you have to look at it. Sometimes I know I want to break out specific parts and figure out which part of the system works and what doesn’t, but you have to look at it as one system. I’m always trying to look forward,” Mark explained.

Morris Farms has tested the SekureCrop Wheat Management Program and on the day of this interview, Mark is visiting the Hopkinsville Research Farm, and seeing the root dig and replicated test plots Security Seed is demonstrating.

“It’s quite an accomplishment, there’s a lot of work that goes into the [research farm]. We’ve put in some test plots but they do this a hundred times over that. It’s quite a feat. The more data you have, the better decisions you can make. With several replications you might be able to find a pattern and find something that makes money,” said Mark.

The 8 bu./acre advantage that Mark saw on his SekureCrop plot is lower than expected under better weather conditions, but still a substantial boost over the average particularly under these extreme conditions.

“It’s noticeable, and probably pretty significant,” Mark went on, “wheat likes cool conditions during grain fill and this year was dry and extremely hot. Which seemed to shut the plant down a little early which probably, in turn, resulted in smaller seed size which had to do with limiting yields. My SekureCrop acres fared better than those plots that weren’t in the program.”

Mark plans to put some more acres into the SekureCrop Wheat Management Progam next year.

One of the first four locations that started Security Seed in December of 1999, today the Hopkinsville location is one of the largest in the Security Seed family. This store services a diverse customer base from growers that raise organic crops such as vegetables and tobacco to some of the largest row crop farmers in the state of Kentucky. Servicing such a mixed bag of cropping systems requires a lot of planning and management.

The manager of Hopkinsville, Brian Fitzsimmons, when asked what makes his location better than the local competition said, “the obvious answer is it’s our people. I know everybody says that’s what makes them better but in our case it’s about us working as a team, not individuals. We must outwork our competitors. That doesn’t happen by working alone. We concentrate on working as a synchronized team toward a common goal of excellent customer service.”

Hopkinsville has a strong compliment of staff to support their customer’s needs. Currently they have five professional applicators, an office administrator, a warehouse manager, and four full time agronomy consultants supported by one Sekure Crop Solutions tech consultant.

Why has the Hopkinsville location grown so much? He commented, “We are leading this area in developing a unique Precision Ag program that is designed to meet our local growers needs. Having information organized in a way that helps our growers make decisions that will have predictable and proven results keeps us from making mistakes in a time of lower farm incomes. Our staff doesn’t waste time around the store, we are out on the farm helping our growers by better understanding their unique needs. You have to understand your growers approach to growing a crop if you are going to be that farm’s advisor.”

The Sekure Crop Solutions program now takes the guess work of decision making. “We can no longer make decisions not based on the facts. Our farms are talking to us and we need to be looking at the information provided to know how to respond, to protect our investments and help the farmer profit.”

I asked Brian what was on the horizon that excited him the most. He said the expanding Precision Ag program and the potential new construction coming soon. With their customer dedication and a very strong work ethic, the future for Hopkinsville and their customers looks very bright.

Hendrickson Farms is one of the biggest and best success stories for our SekureCrop High Management Wheat Program having joined the in 2015.

Keith and Jim Hendrickson are Security Seed customers working with Cory Thomas who made a leap of faith joining the then new program and were rewarded with remarkable results, and a 2015 state championship with a record yield in their first year of the program.

“The system has exceeded our expectations. You know, when we first started I wasn’t a believer in grid sampling, stuff like that. I was always a believer in putting the money in the fertilizer. But after we’ve seen the map, what we thought we had we didn’t have, and our land was calling for things we didn’t know about. We’ve been critiquing our wheat program as time goes on, always trying to find
ways to make it even better. Our soybeans are really picking up behind the wheat as well,” said Keith Hendrickson.

Hendricksons gained this success by following the system from beginning to end, working both with Cory Thomas and their SekureCropSolutions TechRep with soil sampling and tissue sampling they tailored a plan that included variable rate seeding, variable rate fertility, and the five core application steps in the
SekureCrop Management program that take that wheat crop from planting to harvest.

“When we raise corn on those acres the next year, even our corn has really been good behind our wheat,” Keith explains. The fundamentals of the program, which addresses limiting factors in the soil and in the plant to push wheat yield, means good stewardship practices on those acres that have benefits that last into the next season, into the next crop.

Having captured state record yields in 2015 with 134 bu. / acre, Hendrickson Farms had enrolled all their wheat acres in the program by 2016, and saw similarly huge returns on their continued investment.

With challenging commodity prices in 2017 compounded by massive environmental pressure in 2018, Hendrickson Farms puts the SekureCrop Management Program to the real test: Can growers expect a predictable return-on-investment, in good seasons and bad?

Hendrickson Farms

Hendrickson Farms

“Our 2018 wheat wasn’t some of our best but we know with what mother nature gave us the SekureCrop system allowed us to maximize our potential. We still were pleased with our crop and don’t know if it would have been as good as it was without the Sekure Crop team.

“We’re already looking at the 2019 wheat season with commodity prices coming back and talking with Cory Thomas and Alex Johns we’re getting our plan together and look forward to producing a good crop,” said Keith.

Like many growers, the Hendricksons are looking towards 2019 and planning with their Security Seed agronomist and Sekure Crop Solutions representative to go after high wheat yields again.

Welden Farms

Welden Farms

The Welden’s, Jay and his father Joe, operate Welden Farms in Union County, Kentucky, which would not be considered part of the “normal” wheat growing area of the state. Especially not an area where there would be a focus on growing especially high yielding wheat. Jay said, “We have started looking at ways to increase farm income and through our SekureCrop program from Security Seed we identified farms that could raise quality winter wheat.”

The Welden’s have been working with their SekureCrop Solutions consultant Dallas Shepherd to gather data coming from the farm to develop production management zones on their fields. These zones identify areas across the farms that have unique characteristics that could support a high yield program. “From our soil test taken from the field management zones we saw some variables such as high Calcium to changing CEC’s that could impact a fields ability to hold Nitrogen for the plant to utilize. This has a direct impact when making management decisions for a higher wheat yield.”

The fall of 2017 was a challenging time to get wheat planted in Union County. “From weather issues to getting other farm projects done we did not get a perfect start to our wheat crop.” The Weldon’s could not get their wheat drilled so they chose to spread it with a truck. They also used bin run wheat that did not get a seed treatment applied. “There were some things we can change that will gets us to another level of yield”, Jay said, “We will look at using a drill this year and using certified seed or at least treating our bin run seed with an insecticide/fungicide seed treatment.”

Jay in the past has planted around 1.8 million seeds per acre. In 2017, he planted at a rate of a little over 2 million seed per acre. “The increased wheat stand promotes more main stem seed production which we have shown to be a key to higher final yields.” We know that we can gain yield by using better seed through treatment or using certified seed and also by drilling the wheat rather that broadcasting with a truck. Our average yield this year was 87 bushels which was less than the 100 bushels we had strived for, but it was several bushels higher that what will be the county average in the 60’s.

2018 was not a good wheat year due to too much rain during the winter followed by excessive heat during the wheat’s grain fill period. In wheat producing areas of the state many growers reported lower than expected yields but growers using the SekureCrop High Management Wheat Program still saw a significant
yield increase over non-participating acres. “We are seeing an average gain of 20 bushels or more on managed acres”, Dallas said, “We continue to see more than the 2-to-1 return on investment for increased dollars spent on this program.”

The Weldons plan to continue to participate in the SekureCrop Wheat Program this fall. “We are shooting to get to that 100 bushel average for next year, and we think we can do it,” said Jay.

Contact your Security Seed Agronomist today to find out how your farm could participate in the SekureCrop Wheat Program, and push for yields.

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