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Patience - Vimeo

Patience from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

By Keith Byerly

Definition: “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

Patience sounds so simple in theory, but we all know that the reality of it is so much more profoundly complicated. We all have that internal clock that is seemingly programmed to switch our mental state in April. We have been making plans and preparations for four months now on how we are going to do it better this year than ever before. We are going to make sure we don’t repeat the sins and mistakes of the past. It’s nothing new for us to sit here April 15th – 20th and wonder if it is time to start planting. We are used to cool and wet soils, and less than ideal planting conditions. We seem to work around that at some point every planting season. What is different though is that usually, we have our other field work done and don’t feel quite so behind before we even start.

The reality of this year’s situation for some of us, especially the farther North that you go is that there is still a lot of field work to do. With all of that field work comes even more opportunities to cause problems for this season. Most of us are going to have a nearly full soil profile to start this crop off with which is great. But that also means that we will have more opportunities than normal to cause compaction layers, whether through spring tillage, fertilizer application, or other trips across the field. So, lesson number one in patience, stay out of the field when conditions are too wet.

I am sure I don’t need to remind you about how last planting season went. For those of you that have followed us online for a time now, last year we went through a very similar set of circumstances. We planted our first corn at the Innovation site in Bellwood on April 17th. Then we got rained out, and the weather took a turn. The soil temp dropped several degrees before we got back into the field. Against our better judgment, we did a little planting on the 26th of April, but it was 39 degrees outside, and the forecast was to stay wet for a while. So we planted two rounds to compare it to earlier and later plantings. Then we finally got on the field on the 12th of May, and we had a soil that was fit to plant, and was warm enough for germination and getting warmer.

Patience. Inspirational quote typed on an old typewriter.

The results of that test were that our last planted crop was the best. Even though the soil didn’t cool much for the corn planted on the 26th, it was lagging on yield by a couple of bushels. Where we saw the big difference was the corn planted on the 17th of April into what proved to be cooling soil. We lost around 12 bushels in yield vs. what was planted on May 12th. That equals over 40 dollars off of the bottom line that we have no chance to get back the rest of the year. And our cost to capture that $40, was nothing more than some patience.

As for the take home for today, planting conditions (both today and in the future) trump calendar date. If I could have you do one thing right now, it would be to throw out your calendar and not worry about the date. Planting at the right time has a bigger impact on our maximum profit than planting early. That is why you will continually hear me saying to plant into warming soils, and don’t mud it in. All of the technology in the world won’t erase planting into wrong conditions. So, do your very best right now to be patient. Last year I harvested 300 bushel plus corn that was 110-day maturity that was planted on May 7th. We can wait for better conditions and still be successful.

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It’s been a long time coming but spring and lawn care season have finally arrived. Many people look forward to this time of the year when they can get outside and begin the task of making their lawns look the best they can. Whether it’s just a small area, a large corner lot or even an acreage out in the country, you can have a great weed-free manicured lawn. All it takes is proper care and some timely fertilizer applications.

In our area of the country, spring and summer months can present challenges to successful lawn care. In some years, warmer temperatures come early and make it easier to apply the right products at the correct time. This spring with the slow temperature increase and wet weather we are having, it might require a bit more management than usual. Application timing plays a key role in having a great looking lawn.

A good lawn care program involves a process of steps, each designed to improve the health of your lawn. Power-raking and aerating (plugging) are some of the best ways to thicken your lawn and improve the effect of normal irrigating and fertilizing. If these procedures are done in the spring, you are now ready for the 1st application with a fertilizer/pre-emergent. This combination will give a nice green-up to your lawn and prevent grassy weeds such as crabgrass and spurge from germinating. The second application around mid-May into June can be done to add nitrogen greening and broadleaf weed control (dandelions).

As summer progresses, insects can become a problem. Several options are available for this situation such as grub control or treatment of surface insects. Nitrogen for greening can also be incorporated into this step. This takes your lawn into early fall with an emphasis on strengthening the health of the plant and root system. This is achieved by using fertilizers with higher levels of phosphorous, sulfur and iron.

A simple process of following a few steps throughout the summer will lead to a great looking lawn that you can be proud of. Here at CVA in West Point, we carry a full line of SCOTTS Lawn Care, Ortho and Roundup products. We also have Kaup Forage and Turf seeds to help make your lawn look great. Stop by and talk with one of our experienced staff to see how we can help with your lawn care needs.

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Starter Program Confidence - Vimeo

Starter Program Confidence from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

By Keith Byerly

Every year at about this time the phone calls start coming in from people that have questions about their starter programs. The questions range from, “what rate should I be putting on?” to “what is the best application method and where should it be placed?”. Each of those questions, plus the 20 more that I hear are all great questions and valid. Today, I thought I would try to address some of the more common ones.

To segment these questions down and attack them one at a time is a little impractical because of things like placement affect rate. But to start with, I think it’s important to understand that different people still apply starter for different reasons. Some folks still use a 2 x 2 starter application of 15 to 20 gallons. These folks are applying their Phosphorus needs in a band, same as we would see with strip-till. We call this a starter application because we do it with the planter at the beginning of the growing season, but really this is a banded crop removal application. There is no doubt though that from a plant availability standpoint this system does a great job of meeting plant needs. In many ways, this is the Cadillac of programs for various reasons but has largely gone away because of horsepower requirement and the time it takes to refill the starter tanks on our planter and or tractor.

So about 12 years ago, it became very popular to dribble our starter out the back of the planter and onto the soil just to the side of our seed slot. We moved the crop removal portion of our fertility program to a broadcast application of dry fertilizer, or we used a strip-till system to meet that need. But, we still wanted to get a true starter application out there for our plant to find in its early days of growth and help it get a good start in life. The surface dribble was cheap, easy, and got that goal accomplished. But some of us didn’t like the placement, or should I say the availability of that band we applied. If we didn’t get some good moisture behind the planter, we were concerned when our plant was finding the starter and getting the benefits. Some people were happy and had embraced the surface dribble; others kept looking for a better way.

About eight years ago, the in-furrow starter application took off, and with it the low salt starters. As long as our soils had a CEC over 12, we could feel “safe” in placing up to 5 gallons of specific products directly in the furrow and in contact with the seed. The problem of the young plant finding the starter early in its life was solved, but there was always a presumed risk that came with this.

So given the context of history, I am often asked what is the best program out of the there? It leads to many questions, and in the end, the right program for you is quite possibly different than your neighbors. However, there are some things from a technology standpoint that have come to market that will help add comfort to your program of choice. The two that come to my mind first go into the in-furrow category. Starter attachments like FurrowJet from Precision Planting take the in-furrow rate and split it to the sides and on the seed to help alleviate some of the salt concerns that we would have. The 360 dash on the other hand pulses the application of starter in conjunction with our seed. It is designed to place the starter in sync with the seed, so in theory, we could place the starter in-furrow but skip the 1” where the seed is placed for safety.

As an Agronomist, I am certainly comfortable talking about the pros and cons of each of the placement options and rates that are appropriate for them. However, all I can do is offer you my opinion and some guidance based on my experiences. I know that if you work with your FSA, together you can do an even better job of dialing in what is right for your soils, tillage, and climate. I firmly believe that Agronomy should be local, and there is no substitute for the experiences that you and your Trusted Advisor share from your area and your ground. So please, don’t forget to include them in these conversations and decisions both before and after planting.

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By Brandi Salestrom

If you are like me and are tired of this cold-long winter, you are also looking forward to green grass and getting the cow-calf pairs out of the mud.

Most of us have heard about grass tetany but what does it mean and why should we supplement our cows with Hi Mag mineral?

Grass tetany is a magnesium deficiency that can occur in ruminants, like beef cattle, after grazing pastures in early spring that have rapidly growing grass. Grass tetany is most often associated with conditions of low magnesium and high potassium in growing pastures. Soil temperature, moisture, and fertilization can affect mineral levels. A cow’s requirement for magnesium increases after calving. Older animals are more at risk than young animals because they are not able to mobilize magnesium from bones like a young animal when magnesium in blood levels drop. Symptoms are loss of muscle control, irritability and unfortunately, this can result in rapid death.

Grass tetany is preventable by offering a Hi Mag mineral 2-3 weeks before grass exposure and fed for a month after first grass growth. Recent research suggests that heifers born to mothers that received adequate mineral supplementation are more productive throughout their lives than those born to inadequately supplemented cows. Fetal programming experts say that the benefits of mineral supplementation are way beyond the animal that directly ingests the mineral supplement.

At Central Valley Ag we offer a few options for Hi Mag mineral. Weatherized Hi Mag mineral bags are very popular, or if you prefer the convenience of a tub, we have them as well. Hi Mag minerals come in combination with Availa 4 for rebreeding and have the Altosid (fly control) option. Contact your local CVA feed location for more information on Hi Mag minerals.for more information on Hi Mag minerals.

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A 40 Acre Goal - Vimeo

A 40 Acre Goal from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

By Keith Byerly

It is officially that time of year again. No, I am not talking about planting, I am talking about waiting. Every year, we play the waiting game. Is the soil dry enough? Is the soil warm enough? Is the forecast favorable for good growth? And the questions go on and on. The truth of the matter is that it is an incredibly trying time that taxes the patience of the best of us. And at some point in time, the waiting gets the better of most of us. It is a cool day, or the soil is a little wet, but the sun is out? Everything is ready to go in the shed. So you decide to load up and “just go try it.” Inevitably though, the decision to “see how it works” turns into a full day of planting because it went so well. Today, I want to talk about the notion that we need to stop everything and do some evaluating at some point before we keep going.

The notion of pumping the brakes and stopping once we get started is noble, but I also realize it to be unrealistic. There is something hardwired into all of us to keep going until the job is done, and that notion is as strong on day one as it is on day ten. But, I think we should go into day number one with a 40-acre goal. Let me explain what I mean.

If the goal on day number one was to plant 40 acres, what would you do differently than if your goal is to finish a full quarter? I can think of a few that I would do. First of all, I am going to start off by getting a strap, and tie my closing wheels up on a couple of rows and plant 50-100 feet. Finding seeds in a closed trench is a lot like hunting mushrooms. Some people have a knack for it, and others aren’t as successful. Tying the closing wheels up for a few feet gets rid of this problem. Then I am going to be out with my seed tool measuring the consistency of planting depth and spacing. I want to make sure the fundamentals are set up correctly right away. If you replaced wear parts like the openers, or even the gauge wheels, the settings that you ended last year with are not going to be right for the beginning of this year. This is also a great time to see just how we are doing with residue management, and if we are getting trash in the furrow, making a valley by digging too much dirt, etc.

Once I have my settings where I want them as far a depth, cleaning wheels, and closing wheel tension go, I am going to move on the planter ride. I want you to plant a couple of hundred feet, and stop with the planter in the ground. Get out and walk around the planter and check those parallel arms for how they are running with the ground. The truth is you should do this before all of the depth adjustments, and every time you make a change. Yield is lost by these being off a few degrees. All of these have to be done before you even begin to worry about down pressure.

When all of those things are done, it is time to focus on your monitor. Shut off the phone and make this your sole focus for 1 hour. You have parts on this planter that have sat still for 11 months. Your monitor will help you see chains that are skipping, singulation that is poor because you have a wrong seed plate or the vacuum is set wrong. The gauge wheel sensors will tell you if you are getting good contact (and you need to dig to make sure you aren’t creating sidewall compaction from too much down pressure.) If you do all of this, and then fix the little things before you move on, I think you will have a lot more confidence in the rest of the season.

Again, I know that this is all good intentions, but it is hard to slow down and evaluate vs. putting a foot on the gas pedal. So let me give you this as a comparative stat. If you dig up 100 seeds for every 160 acres that you plant, you are getting the same view of your seed trench as you would get if you made a trip around the world and kept your eyes open for a half of a mile. We all know that the optimum window for planting is small, so stopping for anything is less than desirable. So let’s make sure everything is working to expectations before we go gung-ho, and then trust the monitor and sensors on our planter to be another set of underground eyes. And believe it or not, it is still possible to get a better set of eyes or upgrade your planter monitors capabilities before we start planting. Getting a hold of your FSA or ACS Equipment Specialist is a great way to make sure you are prepared when the chaos gets here.

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By Abby Simonsen, PCQI

Spring always makes me think of raising broiler chickens on the farm. Each year we would get 150 or so broiler chicks to raise for meat for the family table. Growing up as the oldest of 5 kids, we had a pretty big dinner table! Looking back, this was a huge undertaking for our family!

Raising broilers at home may be something that you have thought about. It is a wonderful way to show your family where food comes from without the larger investment of bigger livestock. A small barn of 10-12 broilers can be a great learning curve for youth from purchasing the birds, getting them situated in the shed to feeding and caring for them. The final step, sending them to the processor, can be a hard lesson for those with a softer heart but learning the food chain is a good lesson for everyone.

How to raise broilers:

Purchase chicks

  • You can order chicks and have them mailed to you! Imagine the morning at the post office with a box of chicks showing up! Since the post office is essentially handling a live product, you will have to coordinate pickup shortly after they arrive onsite. Some hatcheries also have local pickup if you live nearby. Contact your local hatchery for more details here.

Proper Housing

  • Count on up to 10 square feet per bird. When you get the chicks, they will be very small and not require the full 10 square feet. You may want to partition off a smaller area in your shed for the young birds. As they grow, they will need room to range out so you can move the barrier out. Be sure to keep litter clean to support foot health.

Food/Water

  • New chicks will come to you within a day or so of being hatched. Newborn chicks need a quick start vitamin pack added to their water. This will help your chicks start out strong. Feed for chicks is set up as starter feed (22-24% protein) and grower feed (20% protein). Broiler chicks grow REALLY quickly, usually making processing weight at 6-8 weeks of age, depending on how big you want them to get.

Processing

  • In my family, backyard processing was key to completing this project. Not everyone is equipped for this project so there are commercial processors that will help.

Project Completion

  • After picking up the processed broilers, storage is generally the freezer unless you are into canning. Enjoying a piece of BBQ Chicken from the grill, knowing where it came from and how it was raised can be a very satisfying experience.

Contact your local CVA Feed location for all of your Poultry Feed needs.

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The Education Aspect - Vimeo

The Education Aspect from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

By Keith Byerly

Through this space, I try to open up a dialog each week about Agronomy, Agriculture, and Precision Ag. Sometimes that means showcasing new Precision Ag Products or giving the reminders and the nudges you need to think about when it comes to planters and combines during the busiest times of the year. Of course, it can also include the basics of agronomy like Nutrient uptake and Irrigation Management. But, it’s also important to remember that other aspects are possibly more important to all of us than the day to day grind of Production Ag. Over the past two weeks, I got my annual reminder of that as I worked with some of Ag Students at Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Every year, I get a couple of different chances to get involved with the local Community College here in Norfolk. For the past 4 or 5 years, I have gotten to come in and be a guest speaker for a day or two in the Spring Semester for a Precision Ag Theory class. In that setting, we discuss the nuances of soil tests, how to put GIS software to work in a business setting. It is an enlightening conversation when we discuss how to take things like Intensive Soil Sampling home to their farms, or to their new boss at an Ag Retailer, and present a case for adding it to a business plan.

In addition, for the last three years, we have also had a unique opportunity to come into the indoor Ag Complex in March and do a planting demonstration for students from several of the Ag Classes. This gives them a chance not only to see how some of the different parts of the planter work in a slow-motion setting vs. in the field in the middle of battle. It also gives us an opportunity to do things we wouldn’t do out in the field. Things like creating extreme compaction, or raising the closing wheels to leave an open furrow to give us the chance to study things like sidewall compaction. We try to showcase things we don’t take time to do when we are planting the crop. It also lets us illustrate how things in the real world don’t happen the same way they do on a test stand. For instance, how seed placement differs in the ground compared to the sensor in the seed tube.

And while our ACS and RD team gets to be the people who are lucky enough to experience these things first hand with the students, fortunately, we all get to benefit from these opportunities. These students are your sons and daughters that are going to come home and challenge the status quo on your operation. They will want to put new things into play that they learned about or witnessed at college, and challenge our “conventional” thinking. These young people are going to be going to work at Ag Retailers in all sorts of varying roles. One of them might be the person who is out on your field in a year or two running the application machine or working with you as your trusted advisor. A few years down the road, one of them might even be a genetics expert that breeds the next big thing into our crops.

Regardless of who these students are today, we all have to remember that we need to take time out of our busy schedules to make time for events like those I help with at NECC. These events don’t replace the classroom education that our students get, they enhance it in ways that are hard to explain. My message to you is that this isn’t just a reminder or call to action for Equipment Dealers, Ag Retailers, or Seed Companies. Your local Community Colleges and High Schools have programs for you to get involved in where you can help students learn as well. Whether you are a grower, a rancher, a seed rep, or anybody else that is reading this, there is an educator and a “classroom” out there that can use you. I have gone into Junior High math classes and illustrated how geometry is useful in the real world and helped FFA students develop speeches. There are opportunities for each and every one of us to help prepare the next generation to be part of agriculture. Sometimes, we just need to remember to make those openings a priority.

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  Show season is almost here and let us at CVA help bring home that banner or trophy.

By Brandi Salestrom

Show season is quickly approaching, and I couldn’t be more excited! I know summer is getting closer when show products start moving at the store. Every year I enjoy seeing the summer projects, whether it’s a steer or heifer, horse, pig, sheep, chicken or goat and I like to help out wherever I can when it comes to their feed program.

At CVA we can help design a show diet to meet your animals’ requirements using your own ingredients or ours at the store. We also have a full line of multispecies supplements. We can mix feed and deliver right to your barn or for a smaller amount we offer a line of Honor Show Chow bagged feeds. Just like us, some animals are easy keepers and need a supplement to get lean muscle expression while others require extra calories to get that show bloom finish. If you need help deciding on show feeds or supplements contact any of our sales team and we would be happy to stop out and offer suggestions.

So, how are supplements beneficial and what goes into a show diet? Supplements have become very popular in recent years, and many of our products can be used in multiple species. Supplements that provide extra energy will promote the health, skin and hair condition along with fat cover and growth performance. A lower energy high-fat supplement promotes muscling while trimming body fat. Supplements offer a higher level of vitamins when animals need a boost or are stressed. A 60 lb stress tub is another great option for show animals during the busy season.

Cattle show diets can have a wide variety of options depending on what a producer has access to. In West Point, our diets consist of corn, oats, cottonseed hulls, molasses and Purina Grand 4-T-Fyer. Other options would be wheat bran (alternative for cottonseed hulls), beet pulp (filler) or barley (smoother, firm finish). If mixing your own feed, please keep in mind that corn level needs to be at 60% or less to help reduce hair burn and intake problems. Finally keeping a few flakes of grass hay available help support digestion and don’t forget the importance of clean, fresh water at all times! Best of luck to everyone this year and I look forward to seeing you all in the show ring!

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2018-03-22 Don't forget about research - Vimeo

2018-03-22 Don’t forget about research from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

By Keith Byerly

For those of you that have been following along this winter, you know that I am also urging you not just to mail it in this year. I have been talking about why we need to continue to invest in our operations because it’s what we learn now that will help us down the road. As I have talked about this all winter, I have taken the approach to making proper investments in capital on your operations. But, there is one aspect of investing in your operation that we haven’t talked about, and that is research.

I am a big believer in doing your own research. When I am looking at something new, I never just trust the marketing. I do my own research, do lots of reading, and then make my decision based on the facts and my gut instinct. I think that you as an ag producer should always be willing to do the same thing on your farms. If you have an idea, new products, new farming practice, or anything else that has been gnawing at your curiosity for a while now, I think you owe it to yourself to look into it further. This is where having that trusted advisor in your corner pays dividends as well. A sounding board for your ideas is always a good thing. It helps you to be better prepared for the research. New ideas from others can help you refine what your question is, or how you are going to go about answering it.

But I also want to challenge you to think about others in the world of agriculture. Not just your neighbors, but operations in your county and state as well. What about including your research in with theirs when it comes to how we test, and what we do with the results? So here are a couple of things that I want you to consider:

When it comes to on-farm research, the size of the research doesn’t have to be set. Sure, when Universities do research, they are small plots, replicated lots of times. But we plant with equipment that is much bigger than a plot planter or combine. We want to harvest full combine swaths and plant full planters. But, I do think that while we research with bigger equipment, the idea of replication is just as important. As a Precision Ag guy, I know just how much variability lies under our fields, and how it affects the crops that we grow. But as a Precision Ag guy, I can’t begin to explain how replication of a trial addresses variability and ensures more reliable results, I just know that it does.

But all of this leads me to my final point. When it comes to understanding what you want to do for research, nobody knows better about what you need to do for your farm than you do. That being said, most of us, myself included are not well versed in how to do research that can stand up and bring the same value to other operations that it does for you. And I firmly believe that the only thing that brings you more value than doing research on your own farm and seeing the results for yourself, is seeing your data integrated with other data, not just locally, but across a big area to see if the results hold true for most everybody. So, if you are going to do research this year, whether it is a DownForce trial or Starter Fertilizer Additive, I am going to urge you to reach out beyond your normal network. We have some great people in CVA that specialize in Research like our Innovation Agronomist Mick Goedeken, our Lead Agronomist, Neil Schumacher, and our RD team in Brian Johnson and Michael Bock. Your FSA knows how to put you in touch with somebody who knows how to set up your research so that it can be part of a more significant dataset that brings more value to your farm and others as well. All you have to do is ask.

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It’s that time of the year to think about what your needs are going to be in the way of creep feed for your calves. The CVA Feed Sales Team has been contacting producers and informing them what the contracting opportunities for creep feed will be this year.

There have been a couple of opportunities to contract creep during March. For those of you who haven’t committed yet, or are waiting to get a better feel of what your needs are, make sure to look for continued offers from CVA. CVA will continue to offer contract pricing every week through the end of March.

I would encourage producers to calculate their needs for tons of creep feed to make sure that they have a price locked in. This contract period runs from April to September. If April to September doesn’t work for your operation, then discuss with a CVA Salesperson and we will work to get you a contract that works for you. Contracting your creep needs allows you to have the same creep cost all the way through your creep feeding season.

Studies have shown that creep feeding calves pays in many ways. For example, Cow Body Conditioning Scores are higher when she is not the sole provider of nutrition for that calf. Creep feeding allows the calf to better utilize the forage fed while providing a well-balanced supplement even when the calf is just consuming a small amount.

Creep Feed does qualify for the CVA Zero Finance Program. Call your local Feed Salesperson to get all of the details.

As always, thank you for your business, and I would encourage you to stay in touch with your CVA Feed Team for specials on loose mineral, protein and mineral tubs, and other protein sources that work into your feeding program as we move from season to season.

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