John Heitkamp, Ohio Farmer
John Heitkamp still lives and works on the farm he grew up on in New Bremen, Ohio. The operation has grown over the years and is today mostly corn and soybeans, a little over 3,000 acres.
27 Aug 2019
I still live and work on the farm I grew up on in New Bremen, Ohio, and the operation has grown over the years. We’re mostly corn and soybeans, a little over 3,000 acres. We have done a lot of continuous corn, because we are in a corn deficit area, so the market has been strong for corn over the years. It was dry here in 2016. We had planted all of our acres to a triple stack hybrid - which is pricey on the front end. At harvest, our corn yield averages were in the low 160s. When you sell that for $3.80 a bushel, there's very little left. I knew something had to change. We started looking for seed corn that was going to be less expensive. So, in 2017, we planted some conventional numbers along with some triple stack numbers, and the conventionals yielded very well. But then in 2018, we switched seed brands and went all conventional. It looked good. It yielded phenomenally. And that is the least amount I ever paid for seed corn. We spent a little extra to put an insecticide-fungicide combination seed treatment, especially in the corn areas that went back to corn. The 2018 corn was fabulous. My FBN rep told me that FBN would be offering some conventional seed corn for 2019. I went to Farmer2Farmer in Omaha and was really impressed. I learned more about FBN and was able to talk to some key people, even the FBN head of seed. That gave me a lot of confidence. So, this year, we are about 40 percent F2F Genetics. Is it going to out yield everything by 10 or 15 bushels this year? Probably not. It might. But my seed costs were even lower than my 2018 costs, and since I went to Farmer2Farmer and heard from the F2F team, I’m confident that FBN won’t release anything that isn’t competitive in the marketplace. I’m not planting F2F Genetics Network conventional hybrids because I think they’re going to out yield everything out there. I’m planting them because they help me minimize the impact of buying corn seed on my bottom line. That 2016 experience changed the way I think about farming. It's more about me. It's about my operation, who's going to be helping me, what products they can get me, and yes, price has to be there. But now, it’s all about the return on investment. When it comes to making decisions for your farm, especially about seed, you’ve got to be willing to try something new. It has to either bring more dollars in, or save you dollars going out. If it’s going to cost me $50 more to plant the highest yield potential variety, but it’s only going to make me $20, then that math doesn’t work. I think a lot of folks are spending a lot of money to buy traits they don’t necessarily need. Over the last 10 years, everybody was planting their traited corn and saying they can’t go back to conventionals. But once we switched, we realized that a lot of companies put their best genetics into their conventional hybrids. Based on the positive experience we’ve had, we’re going to stay conventional for now. We planted late this year, so we might find ourselves having to spend a little extra on an insecticide-fungicide spray to protect the corn from things traits might have also protected it from. But we will still probably spend less on all that then we would have on traited corn, giving us a greater ROI. Until that changes, our intention is to stay conventional. “F2F Genetics Network” branded seed products and other seed products are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed. Terms & Conditions are subject to change at anytime and without notice. See sales order form for additional terms and conditions.