Tim Tresslar (left), truck logistics merchant, and Clayton Charles (right), associate direct ship merchant for the grain group at The Andersons, work at their booth at the Greater Peoria Farm Show. The Andersons was one of several hundred vendors at the Greater Peoria Farm Show showing the newest in farm and rural living goods, services and technology.
Tim Tresslar (left), truck logistics merchant, and Clayton Charles (right), associate direct ship merchant for the grain group at The Andersons, work at their booth at the Greater Peoria Farm Show. The Andersons was one of several hundred vendors at the Greater Peoria Farm Show showing the newest in farm and rural living goods, services and technology.
PEORIA, Ill. — Four-dollar corn has changed some of the conversations that many of the vendors of products and services at farm shows have had and will have with established and prospective customers.

For instance, customers at the Greater Peoria Farm Show showed interest in programs such as The Andersons’ Farm to Market Program to potentially improve profitability with lower grain prices.

“We’ve definitely had some good conversations about the program. It’s a niche program, so we’re trying to expand it here today,” said Clayton Charles.

Charles is with The Andersons at the Champaign location. He and Tim Tresslar, truck logistic merchant based in Bloomington, were talking to showgoers about the new program.

“We’re talking about our Farm to Market program, which is a bushel that doesn’t come into a facility. We’re marketers of grain from north to south, east to west and all over the states. We’re promoting the Farm to Market program this year as another tool for farmers to use to maybe get the best bid that is not at their local elevator,” Charles said.

Once a farmer contracts with the Farm to Market program, the farmer can use The Andersons marketing and pricing tools to find the best bid. Charles said that the lower price of corn has growers interested in new marketing tools.

While many may connect The Andersons with the eastern Corn Belt, the company recently acquired Thompsons Ltd., a Canadian grain and food-grade soybean group based in Ontario.

Charles and Tresslar stood in front of a map of the U.S. Corn Belt that spotlighted The Andersons locations throughout the Midwest.

“We are in grain and ethanol. We’ve recently acquired facilities in Iowa and Tennessee, so that’s really broadening our range. We were primarily in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana,” Charles said. “In the last couple of years, Mike Anderson has done a great job — and the team, in general — to expand our footprint in the areas where we haven’t done business. We’re doing well today, and we’re looking forward to an even better year in 2014.”

aNH3

Elkhart, Ill.

While warmer and foggy weather may have kept some farmers in the field for late fertilizer application and a rush to finish fall tillage, Randy Litterly and aNH3 have the solution for anhydrous application in cooler weather.

“With the pump, if you’ve got good tank feed, with big valves, big hoses big Acme couplers, these work really good in cooler weather. You can run a lot better in cold weather with these,” said Litterly, president of aNH3, based in Elkhart.

He was referring to the big tower displayed at the front of the company’s booth. That invention is an anhydrous ammonia pump delivery system, the aNH3 EQUAPLY system.

“A lot of farmers use this because they want more uniformity row to row. They want the anhydrous to go on, and a lot of the older systems can’t do this. Our system is not a heat exchanger. We used to use that, but we forced it to do what we wanted. With these new tower systems, we’re not using ammonia to cool ammonia. We’re just bleeding the gas off, so we’re not putting a lot extra in those coolant lines,” Litterly said.

He said the company has sold the product in all areas of the country, from the Corn Belt to the Southeast and down to Texas. The EQUAPLY system can be installed on a toolbar, air seeder and planters.

Beck’s Hybrids

Atlanta, Ind.

Kerry Baer, seed adviser with Beck’s Hybrids in the Peoria/Woodford/Tazewell county areas, was ready to talk tech. But first he had to talk about the number of computer screens displaying a Facebook homepage at the Beck’s booth.

“Our marketing message this year is honoring farmers and their contributions to us as a society with the ‘Why I Farm’ campaign. The campaign includes a Facebook page. People can stop by the booth, like us on Facebook and we will give them a free T-shirt. Anybody can go to the ‘Why I Farm’ website and review the videos. We have the opportunity for farmers to post videos about why they farm,” he said.

The videos are entered in a contest to see which one can get the most Facebook “likes.” The video creator who receives the most votes gets $25,000 worth of free seed from Beck’s for the next year.

Baer said that the voting numbers were approaching 10,000 for some of the videos.

There was more than Facebook happening at the Beck’s booth. The company also is promoting a menu of new technology items to go along with its Farmserver.com website.

“It’s basically a website where a grower can go and sign up to have his or her own personal page. The farmer can load up his yield data, maps, things like that, and it’s also a way to order crop imaging and access the new crop selection tool. It allows a farmer to put his own variables in, and it will produce the best hybrid choices for his ground based on the maps and information they provide,” Baer said.

He said that feedback for the newly launched online site has been positive.

“It’s really pretty incredible. I’ve had a lot of feedback on it already, and we’ve just barely launched it. Farmerserver.com is a site that’s in the growth phase right now. We’re launching a lot of new products over the next six months — there will be a lot of new things that hit that site,” he said.

Baer said the products work with Beck’s annual Practical Farm Research book, which presents the results of some 60 studies across 400 acres in different states.

“We conduct a lot of research at our facility in Downs, Ill., and five other sites across the Midwest and that information is all available,” he said.

In addition, Beck’s Hybrids was helping to feed the world — at least the part of it at the Greater Peoria Farm Show — by sponsoring the noon lunch so showgoers could get reduced-price lunch tickets.

Pro Harvest Seeds

Ashkum, Ill.

Back like Grandpa used to have it. That’s what Jay Whalen of Pro Harvest Seeds was hearing from customers who stopped by the Pro Harvest booth at the Greater Peoria Farm Show.

“We are seeing more interest in cover crops. The talk, the interest at the show has been great,” he said.

He said his customers want their soil health to be what it was a couple of generations ago on the farm.

“The biggest thing they are saying is they don’t feel like their soil health is where it is when their grandparents were farming. That is the No. 1 reason people are giving. The No. 1 response when we ask why they’re interested in cover crops is, ‘I don’t feel like my soils are where they were when my grandparents had the farm.’ It’s really exciting for us to have customers who want that,” he said.

Pro Harvest offers a variety of cover crop mixtures and seeding products. Whalen said the recent cold snap set the growth of fall-planted cover crops back a little, but cover crops are looking good overall.

“We’re excited to see what they’re going to look like in the spring,” he said.

Farmers and landowners also are giving another reason for their interest in cover crops.

“The other big topic right now is nitrates and water quality. This is one way that we really feel like we can hold that nitrogen until the end of the year and it’s not going into the water system,” the seedsman said.

Whalen himself is a partner in Whalen Farms with his family, so he’s paying attention to the issues regarding Gulf hypoxia and nutrient management in the Mississippi River basin.

“I really feel like, in the near future, the EPA is going to show more of an interest in this and the nitrate levels. They’re knocking on our back door. I feel like cover crops is the thing that growers can do right away and be able to hold the nitrogen,” he said.

Whalen said customers are showing increased interest in Genuity Smartstax RIB corn.

“Our full lineup of Smartstax RIB with the 5 percent refuge is very popular and the hot item now. That whole put it in the planter and not having to worry about refuge, that’s one of the big items,” he said.

1st Farm Credit Services

Normal, Ill.

Who knows where the farm bill might go and what could happen to crop insurance by the time it gets there?

Dan Guth, of 1st Farm Credit Services’ Normal office that serves McLean County, said interest in private crop insurance products was high at the farm show.

“We’ve got a couple of new crop insurance products on the private side that we’ve developed, and we’ve been introducing those,” he said.

Those include the Revenue Net product, which allows producers to lock in guarantees earlier in the fall, instead of having to wait until February.

“Farmers are starting, more and more, to lock in their costs this time of the year for next year’s crop, and we wanted to set up a product so they could know what their guarantees were before February,” Guth said.

He also said 1st Farm representatives were talking about the new Enterprise Plus product.

“It’s a way to blend enterprise units and mix them with optional units to get the best of both worlds,” he said.

Advisers for 1st Farm Credit Services also were talking to customers about year-end financial decisions and tax planning.

“We’re advising them to talk to everybody, not just us, but talking to their tax people, other people involved in the farming operation, about making smart purchases and not just ones to avoid taxes or that sort of thing,” Guth said.

He said those stopping by the booth were optimistic, but cautious about the coming year.

“It’s just being cautious because of the market we’re in. We’re not looking at $6 or $7 corn like we have been. Everybody has been taking a cautious approach,” he said.

Country Financial

Bloomington, Ill.

Brian Aussieker was talking dates and times at the Greater Peoria Farm Show.

“We are hosting about 50 crop insurance seminars across the state. Those start in mid-December and continue through the end of February. We’re encouraging folks to get out to one of those if they can — they will talk about crop insurance and some updates to the program for the 2014 crop year,” said Aussieker, a crop insurance analyst with Country Financial.

He said the drop in crop prices could make a difference to crop insurance decisions in the coming year.

“Four-dollar corn does make a difference. Whether corn is $4 in the spring or $7 in the spring, it might determine what policy type you buy,” he said.

Aussieker said the meetings will provide all the information that producers need on changes to the existing County Financial crop insurance products.

Anyone interested in more information about the meetings can go to www.countryfinancial.com/insuranceInvestments/crop.