Russell Hedrick met Nick Vos, now the co-owner of AgVenture High Plains, at the No-Till on the Plains event in Kansas back in 2017. That’s when his journey with AgVenture began.
“Nick was just starting to sell AgVenture corn, soybeans and sorghum, and he told me about this 118-day hybrid that he had tried in Oklahoma,” Hedrick recalled. “That really piqued my interest in AgVenture.”
When he got back to North Carolina, Hedrick reached out to his friend Wesley Bowman, who sells AgVenture products for Sweetwater Creek Seeds, an AgVenture independent seed company owned by Clif Hardison and based in Williamston, NC.
“When I met Clif and Brooks for the first time, they came out to the farm and we got talking about products,” Hedrick said. “I had done my research on the AgVenture website, looking at product profiles, and I liked the look of AV9610AM™. Brooks told me they had done a bunch of plot work and recommended I try AV6010AM™.
“For me as a farmer, it’s just really fun working with them because we see hybrid packages we like and they’re already a step ahead of us in the research.”
“It started with a bunch of arguments between me and Clif,” he laughed. “We were at our commodity conference last year and I said, ‘Clif, we have this farm and the ground is really special. We’ve pushed it as hard as we can and we want to put a racehorse hybrid on it again this year to see how much further we can push it.”
So Hardison told Hedrick about AV9916AM™ and showed him the product sheet. Hedrick liked what he saw, so he started laying out the plot with that hybrid in mind.
“The one stat I was looking for on the product profile that wasn’t there was bushels per thousand,” Hedrick said. “So I called Clif and told him my idea. He wasn’t sure that I should push the population over 35,000, maybe 38,000 at the most. So I said, ‘On the front of the farm, I’ll listen to you, and on the back of the farm, I’ll do what I want.’
“He laughed and said, ‘All right. Let me know how that goes.”
So Hedrick went to work planting AV9916AM™ on the farm, seeding the front half at 38,000 and the back half at 45,900.
“When I called Clif and told him the populations, he got real quiet,” Hedrick recalled. “He said, ‘Man, that’s awful thick. I don’t know what that’s going to do.’”
Hedrick’s response? “It’s either going to do good or fall on its face, I can’t tell you.”
His goal with the increased population was 425 bushels with a range of 8 to 10 bushels per thousand – and that is just where he found the sweet spot.
“Even outside of our contest plot, AV9916AM™ was the best and most even emerged corn that we have ever planted on our farm,” Hedrick said.
He estimated that about 96 percent of this corn crop came up within the same 24-hour period. AgVenture product manager Jeff Shaner credits that even emergence with the brand’s consistently high seed quality scores and planting into the right conditions, two key aspects of the Maximum Profit System™ that AgVenture growers across the country embrace on their own farms.
“This corn was even from the day it came out of the ground until the day it went through the combine,” Hedrick added. “It’s probably one of the largest corn plants I’ve ever planted on my farm. When we were doing measurements for ear height and stalk measurements up to the tassel, there was never more than a two-to-three inch variation of plant height from one of the farm to the other.”
Hedrick said they measured plants in more than a dozen locations across the farm, each plant measuring between 14’8” to 14’10”.
“It’s a good growing corn – that’s the only way I know how to put it,” he said. “We had really good plant health. We did see a little gray leaf spot come in at one point in the season, but we sent the drone out to spray Veltyma and did a little foliar fertilizing as well.
“This plant put on a big, girthy ear with about 18-to-20 kernels around, and some of our largest were 52-to-54 long. We have a video on our social media where we are weighing the ears and some weighed over a pound per ear. If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what would.”
Hedrick added that up to 30% of the plants in this field had a viable second ear, with measurements at 16 around and 36 long. Another 5-to-10% of the field had a viable third ear.
“That corn plant really knows how to pack kernels on an ear,” he said.
Looking back, Hedrick admits that a lot of people don’t understand how this season happened. Between years of on-farm research, determining best practices for nutrient applications, and selecting quality products, he knows that a season like 2022 can happen again and again.
But, as any farmer will tell you, “Really timely rains also help.”