It is part fall field day, part agronomy seminar, and part family reunion. The annual, three-day event known as Becknology Days is underway at the Beck’s Hybrids complex at Atlanta, IN. One of the more popular sessions each year is the President’s Hot Topics presentation where Beck’s President Sonny Beck discusses what he sees as the big issues in farming for the coming year. For 2014, he told HAT, it is weed resistance, “If we want to save Roundup for the future, we have to start using some Liberty now.” He admitted Liberty Herbicide is a harder system to use but, “If you want to be able to use Roundup in the future on your farm you have to be rotating your herbicides.”
Beck explained that, in a few years, growers will have new crop protection products like Roundup Extend or Exceed that use 2,4-D or the or Dicamba modes of action and can be mixed or alternated with glyphosate. Until then, Beck says growers must take action to address the growing weed resistance issue, “We are getting huge resistance built up now with mare’s tail, waterhemp, and palmer amaranth.”
Another issue that worries Beck is keeping a grower’s cost of production under control while still increasing yields. For the past 2 years, Beck’s has been doing research on how to improve the efficiency of growing corn. This fall Beck’s has unveiled a variable hybrid planter, “So we can have a stress hybrid in the front row box and a race horse hybrid in the back row box; and a computer by soil type automatically changes the planter.” He said their research shows that, using this variable planting system, they gained a 19 bpa advantage on the race horse hybrids and a 7 bpa advantage for the stress hybrid when you match the right hybrid to the right soil type in a field, “So combined, you can get over a 20 bushel advantage with this system.” The prototype planter is on display at Becknology days and will also be shown at the Farm Progress Show next week in Decatur, IL.
Visitors to Bechnology Days on Thursday were among the first to see the new Beck’s Experience Museum. This new display traces the history of the company from its beginnings 76 years ago to the present. Sonny Beck attributes the success of the company to their unique philosophy, “We are big enough to get the job done, but small enough to get it right.” While the family-owned firm has seen tremendous growth, they still try and operate as they did when they were a small seed firm. “We are a private company which gives us a huge advantage over a public company,” said Beck. For the 5th year, Beck’s is giving part of their profits back to their customers in what is called the Shareholder Commitment Reward program.
Bechnology days continues Friday and Saturday with field tours, agronomy programs, family events, special seed order incentives and discounts, and a free lunch. It is expected that close to 10,000 people will visit the Atlanta location during Bechnology Days.
Gary Truitt interviews Sonny Beck