An Update From Our Field Team

The 2019 growing season has been one for the ages. This is a year that we will talk about for generations to come, while the younger folks roll their eyes at repeated reminders we blurt out from time to time. From weather events, like the historic flooding that hit the Midwest, to the financial woes the trade wars have created; today’s producers have been tested both financially as well as psychologically. The overall impact of the weather alone is still yet to be determined as harvest across the nation continues. Fall soil sampling is beginning to heat up and Midwest Laboratories has added Saturday receiving to help accommodate those whom may not have been able to sample during the wet spring season. I’d like to share an update from all areas of the agriculture community.

I work as a field representative for Midwest Laboratories, Inc. (Organic and Specialty Crops/Lawn and Garden Agronomist) by day and a livestock and grain producer at night alongside my husband and family. I have seen the impact first-hand 2019 has left on the ag community from all sides.

Field Representative, Ashley Babl, available to meet our clients and learn about the fall soil season.

Let’s Hear From Those In The Field 

Russel Wolf of Tipton, MO echoed a lot of what other growers had to say about the slow start to planting.

“We were very wet and so on an average we were a month behind on most all of our plantings.  30% of our corn crop was replanted due to poor stands. We also had to take prevent planting on about 20% of our soybean acres in the bottom because of flooding.” He continued, “We did have good growing season, timely rains, and no damaging heat waves without moisture.” 

Kyle Afrank, Precision Ag Manager for GreenLine Equipment of Albion, NE, had a unique observation “This year really brought to light some of the trouble areas guys exposed themselves to in years prior… lacking on equipment.” He said, “Whether guys were short on horse-power trying to pull their heavy planters through the wet soils of spring to finding prevent plant equipment like drills to make use of areas that flooded and dried up. Equipment sales didn’t take a hit like I thought it would. The areas of focus just shifted a bit.” Afrank also added,

“This is a year where guys will have to really sit down and evaluate the operation from A to Z and ask themselves if this is a year that was a once in a lifetime chance, or something they should really consider making changes to so their operation is ready the next time something like this happens.” 

Kyle Frank of Albion, NE

Soil Sampling this Season

GKS Farms of Albion, NE is planning to continue their soil sampling as they have always done. Adam Babl said, “We believe soil sampling to be critical. Especially in some of our sand soils, we need to know every year where we stand because of the soil structure, we could see a lot of our fertility move.” He was pleased once spring had passed and timely rains settled in over the summer. “We didn’t have to run our pivots very often if at all. Fertigation through the pivot is a big part of our fertilizer management program, but when we get rains that keep the soil profile saturated, we may need to assess things and have an alternate route of delivery in the future with wet years like this” (Babl).

Many growers across the nation faced difficulties as the year progressed, but a few were lucky enough to skate by many of the hardships the year presented like Adam Hendricks of Auburn, KY. “Our corn growing season was excellent. We had plenty of rain, but avoided the flooding that others fought this year. We were patient with the rain, and planted into good conditions overall. The crop suffered very little early on, but above average rainfall and reasonable temperatures during the summer produced a record crop for us. September was extremely dry, so we were able to harvest with very few delays. Overall farm yields were by far the best we’ve ever had.” He did share that the commodity prices and trade wars were felt in his pocketbook, but the weather blessed him with bountiful crops that yielded well.

“I am thankful for the crop that we’ve had this year, but I feel for those that have fought what seems to be a losing battle this year. I know many just want to forget 2019 and move on. Hopefully 2020 will provide opportunities for us all.”

-Adam Hendrick of Auburn, KY

An Update from Midwest Laboratories Season

The beginning of fall soil sampling season was a bit down but as the month progressed the numbers steadily climbed. Tim Radmacher, Midwest Laboratories’ Receiving Supervisor, was hopeful for this fall season.

“At this point in the year we are seeing lower volumes than normal as the weather has not allowed farmers to get into their fields to harvest. We are averaging about 2500 samples a day where at this point in previous years we would be averaging about 4000.”

Tim Radmacher, Midwest Laboratories Receiving Supervisor

He added his prediction by saying, “In the next two weeks, we expect the volumes to jump over the 10,000 mark and take off from there.” Midwest is currently receiving 20,000+ samples as November creeps up on us and harvest progresses. With capacity to process over 30,000 samples a day, there is room to absorb any increase in samples received. Radmacher also added, “From the start of October to the end of December we run about 1 million soil samples through the lab – we expect to see weeks of 150,000 plus samples. When we are in full swing, we are running from 4:00 am to sometimes 8:00 pm.” Keeping up with the schedules our clients keep is very important. We want to push out good, high quality data to them so they are able to make adjustments to their farms and fields in a timely manner. 

A Word from our Founder

Ken, Pohlman, Founder of Midwest Laboratories.

To us, keeping our clients in business and responding to their needs for testing is what keeps us driving to expand testing and becoming more efficient. Relationships are everything in agriculture and a hand shake still means a lot. Relationships with our clients is everything to us. Midwest Laboratories has added Saturday receiving this year so we are able to better serve our clients and process samples quicker. Founder of Midwest Laboratories, Inc., Ken Pohlman said, “When I started in 1975, we processed 450 samples during busy season. We’ve come a long way.” Why is turn around time so critical at Midwest Laboratories, as well as high quality data? “Turn around time is so important. The longer that sample sits with us, the more worthless is becomes to those who send us samples.” Ken said. “That’s why we added Saturday’s to our work week. If our clients are out working on Saturday’s, we are going to be right there along side them getting their results out to them. Now, back to work.”

Ken Pohlman, Founder of Midwest Laboratories

All in all, this year has been quite the year but we look forward to many more future soil season’s with our clients. 

Written by Ashley Babl, Field Representative at Midwest Laboratories