By Michele F. Mihaljevich
ATLANTA, Ind. – Beck’s is expanding into Nebraska, a move CEO Sonny Beck said allows the seed company to bring its goal of “Helping Farmers Succeed” to more corn and soybean producers.
The expansion, announced last month, adds more than 15 million acres to the company’s marketing area. It puts Indiana-based Beck’s in 75 percent of acres within the Corn Belt, Beck said.
“Because of our culture of wanting farmers to succeed, we want to spread our Practical Farm Research (PFR) to farmers there,” he explained. “(Years ago), we started at a 30-mile circle, which was basically our home county. Then two-three years later, we spread to 60 miles, then three-four years later, to 90 miles, then 120. At 180 miles, that was the Illinois River. About four-five years later, we crossed the river. That was in 2014.”
Beck said the company wanted to add the number three state in corn production and number five in soybeans to its marketing area. Beck’s is to the point it can give the same quality of service to new areas that it gives to its current marketing area, he added.
Beck’s has facilities in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Minnesota. A recently purchased facility in Coon Rapids, Iowa, will provide some of the seed and service for Nebraska customers, Beck noted.
The company will open Practical Farm Research and Genetic Choice Trial sites in Nebraska, as well as provide distribution. PFR sites show farmers which products and equipment might work best for their operations. With the genetic trials, producers can look at current and future hybrids and see how they might respond locally, he said.
“We want to help farmers succeed and make more money farming,” Beck stated. “We don’t sell any of these products (studied at the PFR sites), but we may say our recommendation is you might want to look at it for your farm.”
For example, Beck’s has done research on the best type of closing wheel for use on a planter. In the company’s studies, it found that a spiked wheel is better than the typical rubber wheel that comes with a planter. “We experimented with 23,” he said. “Every one we tested was better than the rubber tire. Rubber tires tend to compress root growth. It’s one example, and it’s so doggone simple. We want to help them farm better and make money from it.”
Another area of research is on no-till, Beck said. The study, designed to learn how successful the practice might be longer term, was started in 1990.
Nebraska is hotter and more prone to drought than some other states serviced by Beck’s, and farmers there tend to use irrigation more, he said. “Over the last several years, we’ve been learning what products will work and what ones won’t work. We have to have all those things in line before we go. What makes us really jump into a new area, is we want to take our way of doing business, we want to take our culture of wanting to help farmers succeed, to that area. If we expand too fast, we can’t give the same service (in the new area) that we give to our current customers.”
Beck’s, founded in 1937, is the nation’s largest family owned, retail seed company and third-largest corn and soybean seed brand.