September 19, 2020

Leadership Grows from Strong Roots: Meet Greg Guenther, MaxYield Board Member

Greg Guenther will never forget a summer day in the early 1990s when he crossed paths with Tom Urban, Pioneer Hi-Bred’s chief executive officer at the time.

“I was an intern, and I happened to meet Mr. Urban when I was walking across campus,” said Guenther, a Corwith-area farmer who was elected in 2019 to the board of MaxYield Cooperative. “He stopped me on the sidewalk and wanted to know who I was, where I was working, and how I liked the experience so far.”

That five-minute conversation left a lasting impression on Guenther. “I was a nobody, while he was the CEO. Still, he took the time to get to know me.”

That leadership style also influences Guenther’s role as a MaxYield board member. “The co-op is the biggest employer in many of the towns where MaxYield is located. It’s important to maintain strong connections to the communities and clients we serve.”

 

HOW HAS YOUR FARMING BACKGROUND INFLUENCED YOUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE?

I grew up on a farm near Corwith in Kossuth County. I was a curious kid who was always asking questions as I followed my dad around. “What’s this? Why are we doing it this way?” Dad was patient as he explained things to me. I still have that curiosity to learn more about agriculture.

 

HOW HAS YOUR AG CAREER GROWN THROUGH THE YEARS?

When I was earning my ag business degree at Iowa State University (ISU), I got an internship at Pioneer Hi-Bred in Johnston. That turned into a full-time job after I graduated in 1992. I worked with the seed crop planning team and later transitioned to field testing projects and data analysis in the research department. Later in my career I moved to eastern Iowa near Williamsburg to work with Holden’s Foundation Seeds, a division of Monsanto. Those experiences expanded my knowledge of seed genetics and also taught me a lot about how that part of agribusiness works.

 

YOU RETURNED TO THE CORWITH AREA TO FARM. WHAT HAS THAT EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE?

Well, 2012 was my first crop year, and that was the big drought year. I figured there was nowhere to go but up after that. I do miss the days of $7 corn, though.

 

AS A FARMER, WHAT DO YOU APPRECIATE ABOUT MAXYIELD?

I have a full-time job in addition to farming, so I depend on the co-op to help me make important decisions for my operation and provide crop protection application services. I’ve worked for Illinois Foundation Seeds for nine years. I can remember when seed was fairly far down on the list of crop inputs; now it’s ranked more like number two. I need help to maximize the crop as it grows. MaxYield’s agronomy specialists help me put together a crop-protection program, so I don’t have to worry about the details.

 

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO RUN FOR THE MAXYIELD BOARD OF DIRECTORS?

You need to challenge yourself and be part of the solution. If you want to effect change, get involved. My fellow board members have been willing to help me learn and answer my questions. I’ve enjoyed meeting people from all over MaxYield’s trade territory. If you’re interested in running for the MaxYield board, go for it. It’s a good learning experience.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CO-OP NEEDS TO DO TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE?

One of the roles of a farmerowned cooperative is to provide collective bargaining for the members so they can get better prices on inputs. To operate effectively, today’s co-ops need top-of-the-line managers, team members and equipment. MaxYield is doing a good job with all three of these areas. Going forward, it’s extremely important for MaxYield to continue recruiting new talent at college career fairs, too.

 

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE MAXYIELD MEMBERS AND CLIENTS TO KNOW?

I don’t think you can be a farmer without being an optimist. You hope that next year will be better yet. You also look back at the end of each year and ask yourself, “How could I have done things differently?”

 

If you have an idea or a question regarding MaxYield, contact me or any MaxYield board member. We appreciate your input and look forward to hearing from you.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Guenther and his wife, Janelle, met at ISU and have been married 25 years. Their oldest daughter, Elise, recently graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and is starting her teaching career in Schleswig. Their middle daughter, Lila, is a junior at South Dakota State University, where she is majoring in medical laboratory science. Their youngest daughter, Evie, will be in 8th grade in Algona. When Guenther has some free time, he enjoys traveling with his family. In 2019, the Guenthers toured northern Germany to do some “ancestry sleuthing.”

Boost Your Potential: How to Earn a Bonus Premium for Old-Crop, New-Crop

Would you like a bonus on your old-crop corn or soybeans when you market your grain to MaxYield Cooperative? You have the chance to get a better price when you use a bonus premium

Ben Buie, Grain Team Leader

contract.

“Bonus premium contracts work well when you have old-crop grain to sell and you haven’t made many new-crop sales,” said Ben Buie, grain team leader at MaxYield. “If you have grain in the bin or on price-later, plus you have a good crop on the way, these contracts are worth a look.”

Bonus premium contracts can be tailored to your specific needs. “The premiums can be fairly significant,” added Mick Hoover, grain solutions and origination team leader at MaxYield. “Some have generated a premium of 37 to 38 cents on soybeans. Most of the corn premiums are 12 to 18 cents.”

 

HOW IT WORKS

You get paid a premium on today’s grain in exchange for a committed offer to sell grain in the future, if the market rises above a set price. If today’s price is around $3 per bushel on corn, for example, you could get a 15-cent premium in exchange for making an offer to sell the same number of bushels if the market goes above a target price in the specific month you set.

“The price level you set for your target will affect the premium, as well,” Buie said “The further out you go and the lower price you pick for your target, the better premium you’ll get.”

GET THE BALL ROLLING

MaxYield has been offering bonus premium contracts for about two years. While these contracts offer many benefits, there are risks. “When you’re making an offer to sell, there’s some uncertainly with this contract,” Buie said. “The further out you go, the longer you don’t know how things will shake out.”

If you have old-crop grain to sell and you haven’t sold much new-crop, however, don’t shy away from bonus premium contracts. “I don’t see a lot of downside,” Hoover said. “You need to sell new-crop, so put that offer out there. Even if the offer doesn’t hit, you still have a check in your pocket from the premium for selling the old-crop.”

Reach out to the MaxYield grain solutions team to learn more about bonus premium contracts. “Some of the contracts coming up look favorable,” Buie said. “We look forward to serving you and appreciate your business.”

 

ATTENTION, TRUCKERS!

We’re always looking to hire more trucks in the fall for our on-farm grain pickup service. If you’d like to work during the fall, we guarantee the income to the truck. Call Cassie Degner at MaxYield’s corporate office at 515-200-5115 for more details

 

 

On-Farm Grain Pickup Makes Harvest Easier

Ever feel like you don’t have enough time to get everything done? Our on-farm pick up service helps you save time, trims labor costs and reduces the wear-and-tear on your equipment.

Big or small, on-farm pickup works for all. “About 26 percent of our fall corn deliveries in 2019 were acquired by our on-farm pickup service,” said Ben Buie, grain team leader at MaxYield Cooperative.

We can tailor the trucking needs to fit any size farming operation. It’s not too early to let us know if you’d like to take advantage of on-farm grain pickup. Contact your nearest MaxYield location to sign. “The sooner you contact us, the higher likelihood of getting a truck,” Buie said.

While MaxYield gears up on-farm pickup at harvest, we also offer this service year-round. “We work hard to get everyone’s grain hauled in a timely manner and make your life easier,” Buie said.

Smart Moves: 3 Tips for Internship Success from a Former MaxYield Intern

When Emily Campbell was growing up on her family’s southwest Iowa farm, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in agriculture. By the time she was a student at Iowa State University, she was open to going where she found the best internship opportunities.

In her case, that meant moving more than 100 miles away from home to work at MaxYield Cooperative, first as an intern in the summer of 2019, and now as a full-time talent recruitment and communications specialist. As she works with high schools, colleges and universities through MaxYield’s recruiting efforts, she offers students her top 3 tips to help them find the right internship and full-time job:

  1. Don’t have preconceived ideas of what the “ideal” company might be. Make a list of things that are most important to you in an internship or full-time job. Consider company culture, company size, type of work, opportunities for advancement, salary and benefits, geographic location, continuing education opportunities, etc. Then look at companies that can help you meet your goals. “Ask yourself why you want to work for a certain company,” Campbell said. Is it just the prestige of the company’s name, or the salary? Does the company fit your working style and learning style? “Sometimes students get so caught up in wanting to work for a specific company that they don’t consider other good companies that would fit their goals better,” Campbell said. “You don’t want to miss a golden opportunity that’s right for you.”
  2. Find a mentor. The best internships match students with mentors who help them learn. “I can’t overemphasize the value of a mentor to guide you,” Campbell said. “Mentors can teach you a lot, plus they make it easier for you to build relationships with other team members and other ag professionals.”
  3. Grow your network. Getting to know your team members can make it easier to adjust when you move to a new community to start an internship or full-time job. “Since I moved to northern Iowa, it has been easier to make connections with local people when I say I work for MaxYield or mention some of the people I work with,” Campbell said. “This helps me answer the question, ‘Who are you?’ and helps me build even more relationships in my new community.”

Seeing Is Believing: Fine-Tuning Management Styles to Match Hybrids

Making every penny count is more important than ever in crop production. What if you could match your management style to specific hybrids to maximize your crop input investment?

That’s why hybrids like CROPLAN® 4203 in MaxYield Cooperative’s learning plots are so fascinating. “When 4203 puts on an ear, it puts on a monster ear,” said Dan Bjorklund, seed team leader at MaxYield. “It pulls back, though, and almost always leaves a big tip.”

Still, 4203 produced a decent yield when it was grown in the basic-management section of MaxYield’s learning plot in 2019 near Algona. When it was grown in the high-yield management section of the learning plot, however, 4203 showed a big yield response. “It was the second highest yielder in the plot where we added the additional crop inputs,” Bjorklund said.

This prompted Bjorklund and his team members to dig deeper in 2020. “In the high-yield management plot, we’re using biologicals, fungicides and inputs that are prescribed to maximize yield response.”

“Our goal is to develop a prescription for feeding each unique hybrid like 4203,” Bjorklund said. “What if we can get those ears to fill out to the tip?”

Understanding how different hybrids respond to different management styles is the key to higher profit potential. “We can help you better manage your crop inputs, especially when it’s important to scrutinize every cent,” Bjorklund said.

 

STANDARD MANAGEMENT VERSUS FULL MANAGEMENT REVEALS SURPRISES

The unique design of MaxYield’s learning plot makes it easier for team members to gather data and help clients to see the results. The concept developed in 2019, when the MaxYield seed team planted 55 hybrids in the 600-foot-long learning plot near Algona.

The plot included an alleyway in the middle. While one side of the plot received basic management practices, the south side received a prescription of inputs based on crop needs. Along with 130 pounds of nitrogen in the fall, the south side received 50 pounds of additional nitrogen around the V5 stage, Bjorklund said. “We also applied a micronutrient package with boron, zinc and manganese. Around tassel time we applied fungicide.”

At harvest, some hybrids showed no yield difference between the basic-management plot and the high-yield management plot. Others, however, revealed a yield advantage of up to 40 bushels per acre in the high-yield management plot. The yield boost on other hybrids ranged somewhere within this range, Bjorklund said.

“Hybrid management responses across 20 different hybrids resulted in an average increase in yield of 18.4 bushels per acre. Even when we saw a yield response, we kept asking one big question: is that yield response repeatable and what is the ROI?”

That’s why MaxYield is working with two learning plots this year, including one near Algona and one near Fostoria. While the Algona plot has been rotated to a different site, it includes the same number of hybrids and same treatments. The MaxYield team is once again studying the results of normal-management practices compared to high-yield management practices.

The Fostoria plot includes 12 rows treated with the standard management system, and 12 rows treated with the high-yield management system. “We added these 24 rows to the end of the plot, so it’s a bigger sample size,” said Bjorklund, who noted that these rows run the length of the plot.

Clients enjoyed touring the Algona plot in 2019, and they’ve been eager to see results from the 2020 plots, as well. “When you walk in that alleyway, look at the standard-management side and compare it to high-yield management area, it’s easy to see vast differences in ear size and plant health by August and September,” Bjorklund said. “If we see these same results in 2020, I’ll be a lot more confident in sharing this knowledge.”

 

FIELD-SCALE TRIALS MIGHT BE NEXT

Selecting the right type of management style for a specific hybrid all goes back to genetics. “If we find a hybrid that’s highly responsive to high management, we’ll label it a ‘racehorse’ hybrid,’” Bjorklund said. “Then there are ‘workhorse’ hybrids, which perform about the same no matter what management style you use.”

Hybrids’ genetic heritage influence a variety of yield-influencing factors, including ear type. Some corn hybrids’ genetics mean the ear size is fixed, while other hybrids are “flex” ears that have the ability to adjust ear size, depending on growing conditions.

“If a hybrid puts on a big flex ear, it will need additional nitrogen at the end of the season to maximize its yield potential,” Bjorklund said.

Other hybrids may not need that level of management to maximize yield potential. “The next step is to evaluate the top four or five hybrids in the high-yield management trials and put them through field-scale trials with SciMax Solutions, taking soil type into consideration,” Bjorklund said. “That will help us gain more detailed knowledge about which hybrids are worth extra inputs to get an extra bushels per acre, especially since this can translate up to 40 bushels per acre.”

Being a solutions provider means finding these answers for MaxYield clients. “I’m in my 41st season in agronomy, and I can’t wait to keep learning,” Bjorklund said. “We’ll continue to seek more answers in 2021.”

 

LEARN MORE

If you’d like to get a one-on-one tour of the plots at Algona or Fostoria, contact your MaxYield agronomy specialist or MaxYield seed solutions specialist.

MaxYield Cooperative Pays Portion of Dickinson County 4-H Membership Dues

Madeleine Bretey, county youth coordinator, recently accepted a contribution from MaxYield Cooperative that will decrease the cost of 4-H for members in Dickinson County.

MaxYield Cooperative recently contributed $1290 towards the membership dues for Dickinson County 4-H members. The check was presented to Madeleine Bretey, county youth coordinator, on September 1. The funds will pay $10 of the $35 state dues for 4-H members in the county. This membership provides members with opportunities to participate in conferences, workshops, community service and many other worthwhile projects.

“We are thrilled to continue our support of local 4-H,” said Chad Meyer, MaxYield client relations/communications leader. “We want to make 4-H an affordable youth program for local families, especially families that have multiple children enrolled. Also, by paying a portion of each 4-H member’s enrollment fee, we are able to continue our mission of supporting 4-H so that each member benefits.”

The cooperative contributes nearly $13,000 to 4-H in seven Iowa counties annually.

“We believe that 4-H is one of the cornerstones in developing youth and it provides an excellent foundation to build strong families. 4-H also provides a great way for young people to learn more about agriculture,” Meyer said.

About MaxYield Cooperative

MaxYield Cooperative is a member-owned, diversified agricultural cooperative founded in 1915 and is headquartered in West Bend, IA. The cooperative has 25 locations and three Cenex convenience stores in Iowa. MaxYield also provides grain origination and accounting services for three Iowa feed mills. For more information, visit MaxYield online at www.MaxYieldCoop.com and www.FromTheField.com.

Top 3 Reasons to Fill Your Propane Tanks Now

As we head into harvest, do you find yourself thinking back to the propane shortages that hit parts of the Midwest last fall? Could this happen again?

“With the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought us, propane is still the biggest wildcard,” said Chad Besch, energy team leader at MaxYield Cooperative.

Uncertainty has driven the energy markets in this era of COVID-19. While the gasoline and diesel markets collapsed this spring, the propane market declined a little but didn’t crash.

Slightly less than half of American propane production in this country comes from crude-oil refining. When crude-oil refining slowed this spring, that also slowed down propane refining. Also, propane production had been declining since 2019.

What about demand? People aren’t driving as much as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, lowering gasoline demand. There’s still demand, however, for propane. Exports of propane have remained strong. “Buyers are having to pay up to keep propane here in this country,” Besch said.

 

PROPANE OFFERS GOOD VALUE

So, the question remains—will there be enough propane in MaxYield’s trade territory this fall? “I’m not saying we’re going to run out of propane,” Besch said. “It’s important to note that the propane shortages in some parts of Iowa and beyond last fall weren’t a supply issue; they were a distribution issue.”

 

HERE ARE THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE PROPANE MARKET IN THE WEEKS AHEAD:

Propane supplies are adequate. “There’s still a large amount of propane in America,” Besch said.

  1. The 2020 crop was planted in a more timely fashion than the 2019 crop, thanks to cooperation from Mother Nature. “This should help prevent this year’s harvest from turning into a repeat of the challenges of 2019, including propane distribution issues,” Besch said.
  2. Propane still offers a good value. “Prices are cheaper than the five-year average,” Besch said. “If you haven’t filled your propane tanks, it’s in your best interest to do it now.”
  3. MaxYield’s energy team will continue to monitor the energy markets, including propane, to provide the solutions clients need, when they need them. Contact your local MaxYield energy specialist or Energy Central for more details. We appreciate your business.

To schedule your fill, call the MaxYield team at 515-200-5115.

5 Pro Tips for Ag Interns, Job Hunters

Are internships the new entry-level job in the workplace? Time magazine described internships that way in a recent article published during National Intern Day (the last Thursday in July).

It’s more important than ever for internships to be a win-win for both students and employers like MaxYield Cooperative. Mike Gaul, director of career services for the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at Iowa State University, shares 5 tips to help students find the right internship:

  1. Take your years of experience into consideration. “Freshmen, just get your foot in the door and gain some experience to build upon for future internships,” Gaul said. “Realize that as a freshman you likely won’t be hired for upper-level internships with some of the heavy hitters in the industry.” These employers, however, do value the experience students gain as a freshman and sophomores when they complete internships at other companies. Expectations change the farther students advance in their education. “Juniors, this should be your dream internship, a capstone experience that offers a great chance to return to campus in the fall with a full-time offer in hand,” Gaul said.
  2. Beware of the 5 big mistakes an intern can make. Some simple things are often overlooked by students who don’t realize how important a successful internship can be to their career, including:
    • Lack of open-mindedness. Too many students are not willing to venture out of their comfort zone for summer internships – especially from a geographical perspective. “I need to live at home,” or “I’m paying rent in Ames” are common scenarios. Being geographically restricted, however, eliminates 99 percent of all employment opportunities. “More important, it limits your chance to get out of your personal comfort zone and grow as a person,” Gaul said. “Being open to new experiences will pay huge dividends when you interview for full-time jobs in the future.”
    • Too focused on money. A job is never just about the money. “I understand and respect the focus on money in this era of rising tuition and debt load, but money should not be a deciding factor,” Gaul said. “It’s the good work experience and opportunity to add value to one’s resume that offer the most valuable benefits.”
    • Tunnel vision. Sometimes students set their heart on interning at a well-known company, but overlook other internships that could also suit their career goals just as well—or even better. “I caution students against getting caught up in a ‘name’ and passing up a valuable, comprehensive experience at another company,” Gaul said.
    • Going back to the same internship year after year. “I can understand this, but unless you’re embarking upon work that’s totally different from your previous summer’s internship, look at other companies,” Gaul said. “When in your life are you going to have the opportunity to ‘sample’ three different summer experiences (companies) and walk away with no strings attached after three months?”
    • Having one or more summer voids on your resume. This is especially true if it’s your last summer before you graduate from college. “Nobody wants to be asked the question, ‘Why didn’t you have an internship last summer?’” Gaul said. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Gaul suspects many employers will understand if a student didn’t have a summer 2020 internship.
  3. Ask key questions as you discuss internships with various employers. “Tell me about your company’s track record of converting interns to full-time hires” should rise to the top of the list of must-ask questions, especially for juniors. “This sends a very positive message to the employer, especially in an era when companies are using internships as a feeder system for full-time employment,” Gaul said. It’s also worthwhile to say, “Tell me about the structure of your internship.” Students need to know whether they’ll be exposed to a variety of tasks, or stuck in mundane daily activities, Gaul said. Other great questions include inquiring about company culture, mentorship potential and a potential capstone project. “Students relish the opportunity to take personal ownership in a capstone project,” Gaul said.
  4. Never take a job for the sake of taking a taking a job. This applies to internships as well as full-time jobs. “Do your research on the company, talk to current employees and even talk to competitors to learn as much as possible about the true nature of the internships you’re considering,” Gaul said.
  5. Look beyond the work. View internships not only as a way to make money or gain experience, but to become a more well-rounded person. Take advantage of opportunities to grow your network. Focus on personal accountability. Be the first person to show up in the office each morning, Gaul said. “Also, look at the big picture about how your work fits into the company’s mission. Show that you don’t need much hand-holding and are willing to take the initiative to help the company thrive. People will notice.”

For more information on MaxYield’s internship program check out www.maxyieldcooperative.com/internships. Applications for 2021 internships are live NOW!

Scale Improvements to Speed Delivery to MaxYield’s Britt Location

 

Clients and members delivering grain to our Britt location this fall will not only notice the new 750,000-bushel storage bin, they’ll also enjoy an easier time weighing in and out.

Britt location leader, Sara Anderson noted that a new scale ticket printer and intercom system are a nice addition to the improvements there. “Clients will be able to communicate directly with us in the office and the scale ticket will print automatically. You won’t have to leave the truck during deliveries. We’ve also added a signal at the end of the scale so you easily know which pit to go to.”

The goal, she said, is to make it easier for grain deliveries at Britt. “It’s easy to see the big improvements, like the new bin. However, just as important is making the client experience here better. We’re excited about everything that’s happening here.”

The MaxYield team has also been hard at work adjusting and calibrating the new Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) grain handling system, which will increase productivity, efficiency and safety at the location.

Klemme Grain Project Pushes Forward

The skyline at our Klemme facility is changing rapidly. The main grain leg tower has been constructed with conveyance added to existing grain storage. Work on the receiving pits and grain load out area is moving forward.

The bin-jacking process has begun in earnest on the 750K-bushel storage bin too. Once the bin is completed, crews will work on electrical wiring and other infrastructure for the bin.

This $4.5 million project will dramatically improve grain storage and handling at our Klemme location and is expected to be operational this fall.

MaxYield Cooperative Announces Positive Fiscal 2020 Results

WEST BEND, IA, – MaxYield Cooperative® recently announced its fiscal results, for the year ending July 31, 2020. The board of directors for MaxYield reviewed and approved the financial audit at their board meeting on August 27.

MaxYield CEO Keith Heim stated that the cooperative had positive local and total savings to report. “Each year presents challenges and opportunities and Fiscal 2020 was no different. I am especially proud of how our team performed and showed grit and resiliency during this COVID-19 pandemic. MaxYield is a solution’s provider and I appreciate the solutions our team brings to our members and clients every day.”

MaxYield Cooperative’s Local Savings from Operations for the 2019-2020 fiscal year were $1,512,243 and pre-tax Total Savings for the cooperative totaled $8.6 million.

“In Fiscal 2020, we achieved the second best total revenue in company history”, Heim said. “Most all revenue areas showed consistency with the past year and remain on upward trend lines. Some areas of note include the second best drying revenue year, solid total energy and feed margins, strong total seed margins and exceptional soybean margins.”

The MaxYield board approved using a portion of this year’s available Section 199A tax deduction internally to mitigate the cooperative’s tax obligation. Heim added that the unused Section 199A tax deduction amount of approximately $1.4 million will be passed through to members for possible use on their individual tax returns.

Heim said that the cooperative maintains a solid balance sheet. “Term debt was reduced by approximately $4.0 million. We maintained adequate working capital levels while spending approximately $13 million on capital expenditures during the fiscal year.”

Member’s equity increased by about $2.65 million in 2020, noted Heim. “MaxYield once again increased retained savings, which now totals nearly $67 million as compared to 1997, when retained savings were ($122,242). The retained savings comparison is a good perspective of the financial improvement at MaxYield over the past 23 years.”

The cooperative’s annual meeting is December 9, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. at the Ketelsen Community Center, located in Everly, IA. More details regarding the annual meeting will be sent to member’s closer to the event.

About MaxYield Cooperative

MaxYield Cooperative is a member-owned, diversified agricultural cooperative founded in 1915 and is headquartered in West Bend, IA. The cooperative has 25 locations and three Cenex convenience stores in Iowa. MaxYield also provides grain origination and accounting services for three Iowa feed mills. For more information, visit MaxYield online at www.MaxYieldCoop.com and www.FromTheField.com.