Team up for better yields
June 17, 2004
Rodger Nygaard (left) and Doug Lenz discuss an early-season scouting report.
Two heads are sometimes better than one when it comes to raising dry beans.
At least that's how Rodger Nygaard and Doug Lenz look at it.
Nygaard, Reynolds, N.D., hires Lenz - a Centrol crop consultant based out of nearby Buxton, N.D. - to provide crop planning and production advice and to scout his dry beans, sugarbeets and other crops.
It costs me a few extra dollars per acre," says Nygaard, "but it has helped me increase yields and save money."
What Lenz does
Each year, Lenz develops a crop production proposal for Nygaard. It's based on what crops he plans to grow, how they best fit in the rotation, what the soil test results show and other factors. The plan details things such as types and rates of fertilizer and herbicide to use.
"It's handy to have a plan to follow," Nygaard says. "You know what you are going to do and you follow it."
During the growing season, Lenz scouts Nygaard's fields. He troubleshoots problems that develop and recommends ways to correct them. He identifies weeds and makes sure the herbicides selected will control them. He takes stand counts, watches for insect and disease development and monitors the growth of the crop.
Nygaard says Lenz's knowledge of crop protection chemicals is especially helpful.
"I can't keep up with all the changes and recommendations," Nygaard says, "but he is always on top of that."
The result is better control of yield robbing pests at the lowest cost.
"He knows when it's possible to reduce rates and when it's not, and which additives to use to improve performance," Nygaard says. "That saves me some money."
Lenz also grows dry beans himself. He raises navies with his brother, Mitch, who farms at Fertile, Minn.
"I think farming a little myself makes me a better consultant," Lenz says. "I know what you are up against trying to raise a good crop of dry beans. You have to carefully weigh the cost of an input against the benefit. I do the same thing."
"It helps that he gets his hands dirty," Nygaard says of Lenz' farming experience.
Nygaard also likes the fact that Lenz is part of Centrol, one of the largest consulting companies in the region. An employee owned company, Centrol has 23 fulltime consultants working Minnesota and North Dakota. Lenz talks to other consultants daily about what they are seeing in fields, what might be moving into his area and how products are performing. The company also provides extensive training and support.
Nygaard and Lenz have worked together for 18 years. Lenz understands Nygaard's management approach well and Nygaard trusts Lenz' recommendations.
"He's a been a big help." Nygaard says.
Doug Lenz scouts a field.
What Lenz scouts for early in the season
Here are some of the problems that Doug Lenz looks for in dry beans early in the season:
" Seed corn maggot damage. This insect has reduced stands in the past.
" Leaf hopper. Blown in on the wind, leaf hoppers feed on dry beans leaves. They have been a problem in central Minnesota and the southern Red River Valley.
" Zinc deficiency. Telltale symptoms are apparent to the experienced eye. Foliar applications can help, but it's best to apply zinc with the fertilizer.
" Biennial wormwood. This weed is a growing problem in much of the Northarvest region. It looks like ragweed, but different herbicides control it. (See page 12 for an article and photos to help you identify the weed and for herbicide recommendations).
" Poor stands. While the window for replanting is small, checking plant population provides information on things that may need to be done next year to improve stands. Low stand may also make controlling weeds more difficult.
Hiring a consultant?
Ask these 7 questions
1) Are current clients satisfied?
2) Are clients getting good yields?
3) What products does the consultant tend to recommend?
4) What's the consultant's reputation with local suppliers, extension personnel (they train many consultants) and others in the industry?
5) Is the consultant certified? There are several programs that provide various levels of certification.
6) How active is the consultant in professional trade organizations? This may be a tip-off to skill level and ability to work with people.
7) Do you think you will work well together?