“We are excited about G&H Seed,” states Kenny Cordell, CEO of Pinnacle. “This acquisition, along with JSI, creates a significant platform to launch Pinnacle and achieve national coverage.”
Barry Knight, President of JSI, adds, “G&H will fit ideally with the Sanders’ culture and will help expand our retail footprint into South Louisiana.”
“We are extremely happy to be a part of the Pinnacle strategy. Pinnacle gives us the resources to expand our footprint and dramatically improve our product and service offerings to our customers,” notes Michael K. Hensgens, Business Manager of G&H Seed. “Our family has been committed to offering high quality agronomic goods and services to our customers since 1968. With this partnership
we can continue that pledge in both agricultural inputs and technological services.”
Wayne Hensgens, G&H Seed Operations Manager and President of Liq-Quick Fertilizer Co., notes that, “The Pinnacle merger not only allows us to expand our operations but it gave us the best opportunity to keep our management team, staff and philosophy in place. That was essential in our decision because it allows us to continue to deliver the quality of service our customers are accustomed to while embracing
the overall Pinnacle strategy, which is quite exciting.”
About Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC was established in June of 2012 by a management team led by Kenny Cordell and financed by Apollo Global Management, LLC. Its mission is to create a national retail distribution entity through acquisitions and “greenfield” retail establishment.
About Jimmy Sanders, Inc.
Jimmy Sanders, Inc., established in 1953, is one of the largest agricultural input supply and distribution businesses in the Mid-South. The Company currently services growers across Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas. Jimmy Sanders is multifaceted in its operations, which include seed production and sales, agricultural chemical distribution, bulk handling of fertilizer and precision agriculture services.
About Apollo Global Management
Apollo Global Management is a leading global alternative investment manager with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, London, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mumbai. As of June 30, 2012, Apollo Global Management had assets under management of approximately $105 billion in its private equity, credit-oriented capital markets and real estate funds invested across a core group of nine industries, including commodities, where Apollo has considerable knowledge and resources. For more information about Apollo, please visit www.agm.com.
For inquiries regarding Apollo:
Gary M. Stein
Head of Corporate Communications
Cleveland, MS - Jimmy Sanders, Inc., the Mid-South's largest locally and family-owned agricultural input supply company has expanded its retail operations with a new location in Whiteville, TN. Since its recent opening date of August 1, 2012, the Whiteville retail facility provides the highest-caliber brands and formulations of seed, crop protection chemicals, and fertility products to local growers, as well as precision agriculture services through Sanders’ award-winning OptiGro® program. Through a secure, web-based platform, OptiGro® processes, stores and analyzes data across several million acres and assists growers in maximizing their return on input investment for each cropping season.
Sanders also brings to Whiteville the latest in seed technology, animal health and soil fertility products to lovers of the outdoors and wildlife recreation through its Wildwood Genetics® brand. Wildwood Genetics® supplies a broad variety of food plot seed selections, as well as custom habitat services such as seed, fertilizer and pesticide consultation, soil sampling, weed management advice, and GPS field mapping.
The Whiteville location is managed by Ryan Zawacki and is located at 405 Highway 64, Whiteville, Tennessee. “We are excited to be with Sanders and our daily goal will be to bring the principles of integrity, innovation, and success to the community of agriculture,” stated Zawacki.
Bo Kennon is responsible for warehouse management and inside sales, while Wesley Taylor oversees sales and operations. “I am proud to be on board with Sanders. Our desire is to grow the Sanders business in this area and be of great assistance to local producers,” said Kennon. “It is truly a blessing to be a part of the Sanders team and also this community. I am grateful for and look forward to serving in the agriculture field in this area,” added Taylor.
Jimmy Sanders, Inc., established in 1953, is headquartered in Cleveland, MS and currently services Mid-South growers with 78 locations across Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas.
Cleveland, MS -The Resistance Fighter™ of the Year program, sponsored by Syngenta, recognizes two industry thought-leaders for their continual support and providing growers with the information and tools they need to combat all forms of herbicide resistance in their fields.
Syngenta congratulates the 2011 Resistance Fighter of the Year winners, Jim Corley, of Jimmy Sanders, Inc., Clarksdale, Miss., and Clint Einspahr, of Cargill, Arapahoe, Neb.
Introduced in 2009, the Resistance Fighter of the Year program recognizes those who serve as role models and provide growers with the guidance and tools they need to manage weeds successfully within their operations. Eligible recipients include retailers, consultants and county extension agents who have successfully implemented resistance management programs with growers in their area.
"As a company we strive to be on the forefront in the war against herbicide-resistant weeds. Having advisors on the ground who effectively balance being proactive and being responsive with herbicide resistance management efforts is vital," said Les Glasow, Ph.D., Manager of Herbicide Resistance Strategy, Syngenta.
"Stewardship and leading-by-example underpin the Resistance Fighter of the Year program. Like previous years, our 2011 winners value working together and moving forward toward solutions when concerns arise," said Glasow..
Corley, Southern Resistance Fighter of the Year, has made it his mission to educate growers on what they can do to prevent major resistance problems on their farm and encourages a zero-tolerance attitude toward resistant weeds. When resistance does occur, Corley prefers to offer tailored solutions on a field-by-field basis to help his growers effectively and economically keep up with their resistance management plans.
"A robust residual program before and directly after planting is an effective counter against herbicide resistance developments," said Corley, who recommends frequent pre-emergence product rotation as well as using tillage and post-emergence applications to keep resistant weeds at bay.
Einspahr, Northern Resistance Fighter of the Year, recognizes that weed control is a key component of the yield equation and understands its level of importance with growers. Einspahr believes in using all of the resources available to make sound agronomic decisions that will help growers reach a solution, including the use of crop rotations, different treatment timings, multiple modes of action, pre-emergence residuals, tank mix partners, and new premix post-emergence herbicides.
"Herbicide resistance is a serious problem that deserves the attention it is getting, but it also is something growers can plan for and work to avoid," said Einspahr. Though not severe in his area yet, Einspahr urges his growers to manage their land as if they already have resistance.
The 2011 Resistance Fighter of the Year recipients were nominated by peers and selected by a distinguished judging panel including the 2010 Resistance Fighter of the Year winners, university weed scientists, Jeff Stachler, Ph.D., North Dakota State University, Daniel Stephenson, Ph.D., Louisiana State University, Stephen Powles, Ph.D., University of Western Australia, and Syngenta experts.
Source: Syngenta news release
Cleveland, MS - Jimmy Sanders, Inc., the Mid-South's largest locally and family-owned agricultural input supply company has expanded its retail operations with a new location in McKenzie, Tennessee. Officially opening on January 10, 2012, this facility will provide seed, fertilizer and chemicals to local farmers, as well as precision agriculture services through Sanders’ award-winning OptiGro® program. Through a secure, web-based platform, OptiGro® processes, stores and analyzes data across several million acres and assists growers in maximizing their return on input investment for each cropping season.
Sanders originally entered the Carroll County, TN area in November 2010, in Huntingdon. Having received such a warm reception from the local growers in the community, rapid expansion became a necessity. Sanders is further demonstrating its commitment to serving growers in this area by investing in a 1,000 ton dry fertilizer storage facility and a 15,000 sq.ft. warehouse in McKenzie. The new location puts Sanders closer to its customers and provides four lane highways to expedite deliveries to the field.
The McKenzie facility, located at 331 Hill Road, will be managed by Brad Haynes. Sales responsibilities will be carried out by Gary Parker, Corren Tippitt, and Joseph Moore. Lawson Johns will oversee all fertilizer operations, as well as warehouse inventory management. Krystal Bell will handle all administrative / financial duties, along with regional training needs. Ken Kehrer will be in charge of equipment and on-site maintenance.
“Sanders is a great American company which focuses on the profitability of its customers. We are truly excited to expand the Sanders name in Carroll and surrounding counties in West Tennessee,” stated Haynes. “It’s nice to work for a company that puts its customers first and truly takes care of its employees. We have assembled an exceptional team that is dedicated to serving our agricultural community.”
Jimmy Sanders, Inc., established in 1953, is headquartered in Cleveland, Mississippi and currently services Mid-South growers with 71 locations across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.
Cleveland, MS - Sanders, Inc., the Mid-South's largest locally and family-owned agricultural input supply company has expanded its retail operations in Kentucky, adding new locations in Hartford, Glasgow and Russellville. Having opened in September, 2011, these facilities provide seed, fertilizer and chemicals to local farmers, as well as precision agriculture services through Sanders’ award-winning OptiGro® program. Through a secure, web-based platform, OptiGro® processes, stores and analyzes data across four million acres, and assists growers in maximizing their return on input investment for each cropping season.
The Hartford facility will be managed by Sandrick Howard and is located at 1320 Hwy 231 North, Hartford, KY 42347. The Glasgow location will be managed by Ricky Houchens and is located at 100 Georgetown Lane, Glasgow, KY 42141. The Russellville location will be managed by Roger Toon and is located at 95 Utility Drive, Russellville, KY 42276. All three locations will be hiring locally.
“Following a very successful entrance into the wholesale market in Western Kentucky in 2011, we felt like the time was right to bring Sanders retail to the state of Kentucky and to give growers another option. We look forward to making a significant impact,” said Jason Roberts, Sales Manager. “We are proud to bring the Sanders brand of quality products and personal service to these great farming communities in The Bluegrass State,” said Howard. “As growers in our area will come to see first-hand, Sanders is a fine American company that truly cares about the profitability of its customers, the well-being of its employees, and local economic development,” added Toon.
Jimmy Sanders, Inc., established in 1953, is headquartered in Cleveland, Mississippi and currently services Mid-South growers with 70 locations across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.
Jimmy Sanders, Incorporated
Farm Input and Supply / Precision Ag Services
For more information, contact:
Sandrick Howard, (270) 298-0061
P.O. Box 23 / 1320 Hwy 231 North, Hartford, KY 42347
Ricky Houchens, (270) 670-7770
P.O. Box 126 / 100 Georgetown Lane, Glasgow, KY 42141
Roger Toon, (270) 726-9666
95 Utility Drive, Russellville, KY 42276
Jason Roberts, (270) 570-4400
P.O Box 23 / 1320 Hwy 231 North, Hartford, KY 42347
Excerpt from Delta Farm Press
October 14, 2011
For Louise, Miss., cotton producer Darrington Seward, precision farming isn’t a high-tech, futuristic method of farming. It’s standard operating procedure on the farm and has been for quite some time now.
The fourth generation farmer, his father Byron, and Scott Harris farm about 18,000 acres under two planting companies, Seward & Son Planting Co., and Seward & Harris Planting Co.
They have 5,000 acres of cotton, 7,000 acres of soybeans, 1,000 acres of rice, 4,500 acres of corn and 500 acres of wheat.
The history of precision agriculture for the Sewards started about 25 years ago, with Byron’s work on variable-rate applications of fertilizer.
“Back then, there weren’t any variable-rate controllers, so Jimmy Sanders, our fertilizer dealer, would flag the field so my father could put out different rates,” he says.
The Sewards have become old hands since then.
“Precision farming is not really an extraneous module to us. It’s not extracurricular,” Byron says. “It’s the way we farm — everything we do is focused around precision agriculture.
After cutting stalks after cotton harvest, Seward will make a variable-rate application of potash, phosphate, sulfur and zinc based on 2.5 acre grid sampling.
He writes the prescriptions on a Web-based software program called OptiGro owned by Jimmy Sanders, Inc., and created in partnership with AgJunction and MapShots.
“It gives me the ability to write variable-rate prescriptions for multiple controllers. The applications are made with either a GVM Prowler with a Viper Pro controller or an AirTractor 802 with a Hemisphere GPS controller.”
Seward burns down aggressively to keep resistant Palmer pigweed at bay.
“We don’t do a variable-rate burndown, but we’ll get started in November and work though February. We want to keep everything clean 24-7.
“This past year, we used some variable-rate Cotoran based on CEC. We put out higher rates where the soil type is heavier.”
For the last 10 years, Seward has run four John Deere 1720 cotton planters, but will be shifting to two 60-foot John Deere-Orthman planters with hydraulic drives that will allow for variable-rate seeding of the 2012 cotton crop.
“We’ve done variable-rate seeding in corn, but not in cotton. I have a test plot on one of my farms working with University of Arkansas Agricultural Economist Terry Griffin and Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist Tom Barber looking at variable-rate seeding. We’re putting out a higher seeding rate on our heavier soil type, where it’s harder to get a stand.”
The Sewards use their Rogator applicator to make the first application (variable-rate) of a split nitrogen application. The nitrogen is incorporated with a Do-all when planting cotton.
The farm will acquire imagery from Jimmy Sanders the second week in June, “and we’ll start using that image when the need arises for PGRs. We really like to manage our crop aggressively with PGRs.
“We also can piggyback our insecticides with our PGRs. We have more insecticide going out on the lusher parts of the field. But we don’t scrimp on the low rate, to help us continue to manage resistance. The control has been excellent.”
Matt Peterson, at Cleveland, Miss., helps the Sewards write the prescriptions for the Hemisphere GPS software.
In late August or early September, Jimmy Sanders will provide imagery for defoliant.
Ned Darbonne, a consultant with Bayer CropScience, and Julian Crawford, field man from Jimmy Sanders, “will scout our crop and provide us with the rates we need for defoliant.
“We usually find that three rates for PGRs and defoliants is just about right. Any more is more than the airplane can handle.”
Variable-rate applications are made by the Sewards’ flying service, Producers Flying.
“We have the absolute best pilot around in Kelly Peeler. He’s very meticulous and has provided us with a tremendous amount of feedback to make these systems actually work.”
The pre-plant variable-rate applications of nitrogen, PGRs and defoliants allow the Sewards to defoliate in one shot.
“It’s very surgical. I can also pick 5-6 days earlier than my neighbors who defoliated at the same time using a straight rate.”
This season will be Seward’s first to use yield monitors on cotton harvesters. He will pick with three John Deere round-bale pickers, which will replace six, 6-row basket pickers used in 2010.
“We’re excited about the savings and the increased efficiency with the round-bale pickers,” Seward says.
“Our operations had gotten like a veritable village, with huge crews following pickers around. It’s like it has its own ZIP code.” He gins cotton at Silver Creek Gin in Holly Bluff, Miss.
He says the farm has pushed its precision farming program “about as far as we can. What we’re moving to now is precision management to maximize efficiency with telemetry, e-mailed work orders and trying to manage as many acres with as few people as we can.”
The farm is partnering with Dakota Fluid Power and AgJunction to remotely manage a battalion of 14 tractors, four combines, two sprayers, a fertilizer spreader and three pickers.
“With the software, I can strategically stage the routes and the dispatch of the diesel nurse trailer. I also want to know if my operators are going too fast, which can be very critical in planting and harvest.”
The software also allows Seward to keep up with equipment function, speed and even engine temperature from his laptop. The monitoring system cost about $6,000 to set up for a tractor plus about $1,000 for an annual subscription.
The higher efficiency the system provides could make it well worth the costs, according to Seward. “What if the system can help me eliminate a $235,000 tractor? How much is that worth?”
For the Sewards, precision farming is using technology to build on a very simple concept — putting inputs where they need to be placed.
“Smart controllers apply our inputs and generate data that we can use for recordkeeping and quality control,” Seward says.
“When you farm on this large a scale, you can use precision farming techniques to know when a job is done. As-applied maps can truth it to make sure that it was done properly.”
It also requires cooperation and coordination between people, technology and companies.
“To get into precision farming, you need to find a good partner, somebody like Jimmy Sanders,” Seward says. “They are in the forefront of variable-rate fertilizer applications in the United States.
“You also need to have great managers and employees, and we have the best. Technology in agriculture is all about increasing productivity and maximizing yields on whatever scale.”
Excerpt from Cotton Grower Magazine
To say that herbicide-resistant weeds have profoundly challenged cotton production in the past few years is an understatement of monumental proportion. Unfortunately, it is true.
On a positive note, the entire cotton industry is working together to develop strategies to manage resistant weeds. The consensus is that no single strategy will eliminate the problem. Rather, a combination of practices, often custom-designed to fit the needs of a particular farm, or even a particular field, is being recommended.
Keith Baioni, Business Manager of Crop Protection Products for Jimmy Sanders, Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, Miss., promotes the concept of being proactive rather than reactive. He encourages the producers with whom he works to adopt this same approach when implementing strategies to combat resistance.
For example, Baioni came up with the idea of F.A.R.M.’N. (Fall Applied Resistance Management Now), which helps producers in his area prevent weeds from producing seed and ensure a clean start in the spring through fall application of residual herbicides.
He also notes that producers need to be aware of specific weed issues on their farms.
“In that process, they must give careful consideration to their product mix, choosing a combination of products that provides the highest probability of managing their resistant weed problems, and, in that mix, they should be alternating chemistries (active ingredients),” Baioni explains.
In addition, crop rotation and tillage must be part of the resistant weed control strategy, and producers “must develop management strategies for field borders, which provide a continuous weed seed bank,” he says.
Producers also are being encouraged to alternate herbicide-tolerant traits or use herbicide-tolerant stacks for more efficient rotation of both nonselective and selective herbicides. Other ideas include applying herbicides correctly, controlling weed escapes with spot herbicide applications, row wicking, cultivation, hand removal and specialized sprayers. Be sure to keep farm equipment clean to prevent the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds and seeds.
According to the results of the August Cotton Farming Web Poll, 53 percent of respondents say they have seen significant improvement in control or better than usual control of resistant weeds after implementing resistant weed control strategies this year. Forty-seven percent believe the strategies still need to be tweaked.
Following is a sampling of the comments that we received from Cotton Farming’s Web Poll respondents who wished to share their thoughts regarding how they voted:
• “I have been rotating LibertyLink cotton on 30 percent of my acres for the last several years. Doing this and using residuals means only having to deal with a few scattered weeds. On a new farm that has been all Roundup, including this year, I had to put hoes through the fields six times.”
• “We don’t have weeds in West Texas. Oh, wait, it hasn’t rained here since October 2010. No rain, no weeds, and absolutely no cotton either.”
• “We still need new chemicals for cotton producers to further combat weed resistance. We need new residuals as well as new technology. Glyphosate has become a grass herbicide for us. Resistance will slow down expansion in cotton acreage for us because of increased man hours due to micro-managing weed control.”
From Delta business Journal / Vol2 No. 29
August 31, 2011
By Becky Gillette
Just like homegrown tomatoes, home-grown companies in the Delta "taste better." They are particularly welcoming and special. Many of these companies started to fill local needs and have grown into making sales across the country. One company, Viking Range Corp. in Greenwood, has become a household name.
Angela Curry, executive director of the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation, says there are certainly advantages to homegrown industries.
"After all, Greenwood/Leflore County is not only Viking's home but it is Fred Carl's home first and foremost," Curry says, referring to the founder and chief creator of Viking Range. "Fred has a genuine interest in the wellbeing of our community."
Fred Carl, Jr., a fourth generation building contractor, started the company in 1984 in order to provide the first commercial-type range specifically designed and certified for home use. Today the company is well known across the country. Another unique benefit from the company is the 70,000 visitors per year attracted to the Viking Cooking School. That has a major impact on the local economy.
"Not only does this company produce world class products, it also contributes to the marketability and attractiveness of our community with its world renowned hotel, The Alluvian and other hospitality services," Curry says. "Greenwood/Leflore County is very fortunate to have Viking Range as Viking is a wonderful corporate citizen and major employer."
Similar sentiments are echoed about Cleveland's Jimmy Sanders Inc., one of the largest agricultural input supply and distribution businesses in the Mid-South. The company launched in 1953 and has grown to currently serve growers through 68 locations in eight states. Sanders' operations include seed production and sales, agricultural chemical distribution, bulk handling of fertilizer and its OptiGro® program, which is variable rate technology and other precision agriculture services.
"Sanders Seeds has been around for as long as I can remember," says Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce. "They are from here, and obviously their loyalty is to Cleveland. They could have moved off to others places, but they have chosen to stay here. They have spread out in the past few years and acquired a lot of other businesses that have helped grow their businesses. They have tremendously increased their sales."
While not all of the employees are based in Cleveland, Thigpen says every time the company grows, it adds more jobs in their home office.
"Their workers at the Cleveland headquarters mostly live in Cleveland," Thigpen says. "They shop here, eat here, and are a great asset to the community. I knew Jimmy Sanders, and now know his son and grandson, Mike and Michael Sanders. They are all involved, good community people."
Ag-related companies are common in the Delta because agriculture is what drives the economy, and those closest to the farm best understand the needs of farmers. KBH in Clarksdale is one example of such a company. The family owned and operated agriculture equipment company, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, manufactures, markets and sells a diverse agricultural equipment product line for seed, liquid and dry fertilizer, grain and cotton harvest.
"Dealing with farmers and dealers across the cotton belt from Virginia to California, being based in the Mississippi Delta gives KBH immediate credibility," says Tim Tenhet, national sales and marketing manager for KBH. "You would be surprised at how much respect and regard is given to our region's farmers by their peers across the nation, and we get to benefit from this fine reputation."
Cotton acreages were declining in recent years in the South because of low prices, but recent improvements in cotton prices have led to gains in planting cotton. While the growth of cotton acreage has helped KBH, it isn't as important as you might think because the company decided to diversify out of the cotton equipment market as more grains started being planted several years ago.
"Throughout our history we have adapted as ag changes," says KBH CEO Buddy Bass. "The ag equipment market has evolved fairly quickly, and the reaction time has to be pretty quick. We're fortunate that we are centrally located in the U.S. and can ship with a good deal of economy to most of the domestic markets."
Ron Hudson, executive director of the Clarksdale-Coahoma County Chamber of Commerce, says KBH is one of the linchpins of their economy.
"It is great to see them doing well," Hudson says. "I like to see home-grown industries because they are generally stable and have ties in the community. They do a lot of things for this community. Manufacturing jobs pay better, and we need to have them."
Another family-owned business success story is NTC Transportation Inc. in Greenville. After returning home to Mississippi, Evelyn and Jackie Netterville Sr., started the business with one passenger cab in 1997 before the official opening of NTC in 1998.
"We found that rural and urban transportation accommodations were practically non-existent throughout most of the Delta," Jackie Netterville says. "We began to fill this transportation void by offering taxi cab services in and around Greenville. As time passed and the demand for our services increased, we expanded."
In 1999 NTC received its first state contract with the Division of Medicaid Services to provide transportation for patients in a 16-county area. In 2000, the company started to diversify service by adding package delivery, airport shuttle services and group transports.
Today the company has 70 employees statewide in Greenville, McComb and Natchez. Most of their drivers have been driving for NTC Inc. for at least five years and have gone through extensive defensive driver training classes, as well as supervised behind the wheel driver training.
"Our drivers are well trained in defensive driving, CPR/first aid and passenger sensitivity," he said.
Other family members involved now include their son, Jackie Jr., Evelyn's sisters, Joyce and Cynthia, nieces Corliss and Marquita, and a great nephew, Travon. NTC Transportation also has a mobility division, NTC\Delta (see www.ntcdelta.com), which manufactures wheelchair vans and shuttle vans with wheelchair lifts. The company has been approved by major mobility limited suppliers as an authorized installer, sales and service company. It is the only company in the Mississippi Delta authorized to make repairs for Braun Corporation, Ricon, Sur Lock, QStraint and other similar companies.
Homegrown companies have a big presence in the Delta. Because of hard-working employees, loyal customers, and local support, they are hopefully here to stay.
Excerpt from Cotton Grower Magazine, June 2011 - http://www.cotton247.com/cg/?storyid=2212
The Seward family runs their farm like a well-oiled machine thanks to the efficiency, and agronomy improving power of new and emerging technology.
The Seward family of Louise, MS, treat their farming operation as if it were a factory.
Family makes the most of variable rate spraying and field mapping.
Louise, MS - The Seward family operates one of the largest and most prosperous agribusinesses in the southern Mississippi Delta. The term “agribusiness” is often twisted into negative connotations when it comes to farming, but it’s a term that Darrington Seward, along with his father Byron, feel is befitting their approach to managing the operation.
“We are an agribusiness,” he asserts. “Considering the large volume of money it takes to farm, and risks we face every year, that’s how you need to approach it. Think about the input costs, the seed costs – we have $4 million tied up in harvesting equipment that we use two months out of the year. There’s a lot riding on that investment, so we are committed to acting like manufacturers, where the field is really like a factory floor. Everything needs to run like clockwork, and work like it does in manufacturing.”
The father and son pair along with partner Scott Harris run two planting companies covering some 18,000 acres of cotton and grain crops near Louise, MS, and have worked to establish an operation that is not only standing on firm ground today, but is poised for future growth should opportunities to acquire more land come along.
To build their efficient crop manufacturing “factory,” technology evaluation and adoption has been a critical component to reaching their goals. The technology and practices they’ve adopted have served to improve agronomic practices, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.
Of course, people are still the key to any successful business, and the Seward operation is no exception. The business features three managers, two assistant managers, a full-time bookkeeper, an inventory manager and two “all-purpose” laborers who provide general support to the day-to-day activities. They also employ 17 equipment operators and a mechanic.
The Factory Floor
Through years of testing, trial, error and success, the Sewards have a well-established stable of technology and agronomic practices they rely on to produce the crop efficiently from planting to harvest. They’ve been doing variable rate fertilizer for nearly two decades, beginning with flagging different sections of field to manually apply a variable rate application, and evolving into fully geo-referenced fields running soil sample based prescriptions. Regarding equipment guidance, the Seward’s went from row markers ten years ago and transitioned through basic guidance into using real-time kinematic (RTK)-level GPS service they use today.
The Seward operation used to own its own RTK base stations, but a couple of years ago it signed on to a network run by the local John Deere dealer. “We had posts set up at ground level and on top of grain bins, but over the course of several years even if the posts settle just a little bit it throws it off,” says Seward . “About the time we started re-surveying our posts, our dealer set up a network and we went with it. We get good coverage out of it – he has three different base stations we can use depending on what farm we are on and it’s worked well.”
All of Seward’s fields are defined by GPS boundary. “These boundaries are stored with our seed and chemical retailer, Jimmy Sanders Inc., inside its web based software called OptiGro. I can make any form of map out of OptiGro, save it, and e-mail it to my managers. They in turn are able to store these maps of all our farms digitally in a single phone, which is a lot less for them to keep up with. Data is centralized in a single and compact point.”
On the planting side, it has generally been about using GPS to plant straighter rows more efficiently. But Seward is participating in a study with Tom Barber and Terry Griffin from the University of Arkansas to test the benefits of varying seed rate in certain soils.
“It’s a continuation of studies that UA has conducted in Arkansas,” says Darrington Seward. “The principle driving this research is that heavier soils require a slightly higher seeding rate to establish a solid stand of cotton than sandier soils. We are using soils featuring diverse clay content to create variable rate herbicide prescriptions in combating resistant weeds this growing season. Cotton on heavier soils can withstand high rates of residual herbicides than cotton on lighter soils.”
In season, the Sewards still rely on “boots on the ground” scouting to keep tabs on insect and weed issues, but imagery has proven highly beneficial as a management tool for taking the established crop to harvest with PGRs and defoliants. A key partner, Jimmy Sanders, Inc., coordinates the imagery service.
“Sanders provides us with someone that does imagery,” explains Seward. “Because it is not nearly as prevalent as it was back in 2003-04 when cotton took such a hit, it helps that they can find someone they can send out to collect the imagery.”
Using the images, which measure Normalized Differential Vegetative Index, managers can identify zones both for PGR and defoliant use and set up variable rate application prescriptions, helping to ensure and evenly maturing and more efficiently harvested crop by working toward maximum crop consistency.
To go with its fleet of ground application rigs, which include a Deere 4830, an AGCO RoGator and a GVM Prowler, Seward owns an AirTractor 802 equipped with Hemisphere GPS equipment to allow for variable rate application of any nutrient in liquid or dry form as well as other inputs as needed.
Communication and Control
One challenge to the idea of the “field as factory” is the daunting challenge of monitoring, analyzing, and improving the operation of field equipment. With only cell phone or radio contact to an applicator in the field, the rig driver has largely been on his own to ensure that work is done accurately and efficiently.
Now, new and emerging wireless communication technology, software and Internet-based tools are helping to bridge that management gap, and the Sewards are already successfully using it to more actively manage the farm. This season, Darrington will be able to wirelessly access the internet from the laptop in his pickup truck, pull up a connectivity tool and see exactly what the operators of his equipment are seeing in real time.
How this happens takes a bit of work — because of the mix of equipment and the lack of compatibility across colors of equipment, Seward has relied on supplier partners to help make this capability a reality. Jimmy Sanders has been an important partner on this front with its OptiGro software program. Also key to the mix is AgJunction, the software division of GVM and Dakota Fluid Power.
In addition to providing a window on the operator’s machine, the software also collects a wide range of information about the machine’s operation. Along with logistical information such as where the machine has travelled that day and what paths it took to get there, it records a comprehensive package of engine data that helps to track factors such as engine maintenance and fuel consumption.
While the systems work now, Darrington would like to see compatibility improve so this sort of high-level management and tracking capability could be made much simpler and straightforward so the operation could gain more efficiency benefit. He’s also hopeful that the new BlackBerry Playbook might be the appliance through which a dashboard of these logistics and monitoring tools could be made available to managers.
“It is our plan to utilize a tablet like the Blackberry PlayBook since we’re going all Blackberry,” says Seward. “This will allow the phone’s data connection to be routed through to the tablet and provide a larger work space, especially when it comes to viewing some of these web-based platforms.”
Finally, the in-cab computers are providing useful data for ongoing efficiency improvement, notes Seward. “We have the ability to record the application of inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and chemicals by creating ‘as-applied’ maps with the controllers that are required for precision ag and variable rate,” he says. “These maps help provide ‘measurement’ so we can more effectively manage our operation; a form of digital ‘quality control.’ We hope in the future through telemetry to be able to receive these maps from the field in almost real time, giving us the ability to be able to catch any mistakes almost as they happen."
Excerpt from Cotton Grower Magazine, May 2011 - http://www.cotton247.com/cg/?storyid=2113
Cleveland, MS - In Cleveland, MS, Keith Baioni develops farm-specific plans to help cotton producers fight glyphosate-resistant weeds.
As most growers in the Southeast and Mid-South are now aware, the fight against glyphosate-resistance is all-encompassing. Seemingly every year, a new species of weed pest will develop tolerance or resistance to existing, effective technologies. Often, these developments turn up in surprising locations.
Luckily for growers, though, assistance can come from surprising places as well. In addition to Extension weed experts and experienced crop consultants, thousands of others across the Cotton Belt have enlisted themselves in the fight against weed resistance.
In Cleveland, MS, Keith Baioni has dedicated himself to the cause. From his position as business manager of crop protection products at Jimmy Sanders, Inc., Baioni has made it his mission to keep his company’s staff and local growers proactive in the war on weeds. His efforts couldn’t have a come at a more dire time for farmers in the area.
In recent years six weed pests have been confirmed to have glyphosate resistance in the state of Mississippi. Among them, the most troublesome have been Italian ryegrass, marestail and Palmer amaranth.
Like their neighbors in West Tennessee and the Arkansas Delta, Mississippi growers have struggled with an onslaught of resistance. Baioni says that though the problem in Mississippi grows yearly, many still underestimate how serious the issue has become.
“Our problem is just as bad as it is in Arkansas and Tennessee. But the perception is not there at the level it is in those markets,” says Baioni.
To help change that perception, Baioni developed the Fall Applied Resistance Management Now (F.A.R.M.’N.) platform. The idea, he says, is to educate the staff at Jimmy Sanders and growers in the Delta region. The message is starting to set in, out of necessity.
“They are becoming more and more receptive. I would say they’re as receptive as they’ve ever been right now,” says Baioni. “But you still have the naysayers out there. There’s a lot of apathy in the farming community – people who say ‘if I don’t have a problem right now, then it’s not my problem.’
“But the weeds have begun to make their presence known because they’re becoming more distributed across the Delta area, to the point where more growers have a problem now than there are those who don’t, whether they believe it or not.”
Baioni says the only problem with the F.A.R.M.’N. platform is that it may give the impression that it is restricted to one season. In fact, the program is designed not only to kick off management in the fall, but also to maintain activity throughout the year.
“It’s a year-round planning process. This is a management program that needs to have a lot of attention paid to it. Not only when there is crop in the field, but prior to that crop and after it is harvested,” says Baioni. The year-long program keeps with Jimmy Sanders Inc.’s slogan, which is ‘Before Seed and Beyond Harvest.’
Through F.A.R.M.’N., Baioni and his coworkers create farm-specific management programs for growers in their area. They set their sights on keeping resistance out of area fields, while keeping a grower’s economic interests in mind.
Baioni says he often recommends Valor to cotton growers who want to get a jump on glyphosate-resistant marestail during the fall. He also relies on products such as Gramoxone Inteon for burndown, as well as a host of residual herbicides for early post-emergence. Again, he stresses, each farm requires a specific game plan that he and other Jimmy Sanders representatives help to create through the F.A.R.M.’N. program.
Area growers aren’t the only ones who’ve taken notice of Baioni’s efforts. Earlier this year, Syngenta named Baioni the 2010 Resistance Fighter of the Year in the South. He is one of only two individuals to win the award nationally.
“Keith is making a difference in his area, and Syngenta is pleased to recognize his work,” says Chuck Foresman, manager of weed resistance strategies, Syngenta. “(Baioni) clearly earned the title of 2010 Resistance Fighter of the Year.”
All awards and recognition aside, Baioni says his true reward is seeing farmers succeed.
“I educate our field sales group about Sanders’ true value proposition, which is year-round, comprehensive crop management solutions,” says Baioni. “Selling chemicals is one thing. Forming a true partnership with a grower and supplying peace of mind is so much more rewarding, and that’s what I constantly reinforce in my messages to our team members in the field.”
Halls, TN -Jimmy Sanders, Inc., the Mid-South's largest locally and family owned agricultural input supplier, has successfully acquired Hurt Seed Company's Retail Seed Operations in Halls, Tennessee. Sanders and Hurt Seed Company have been partnering since 1995 to provide quality seed products to farmers in west Tennessee. "We've been working together for over 15 years now and have determined that we can create more efficiency to the benefit of our customers if we merge the two companies,” said Russell Meeks, Location Manager for Sanders in Halls. "This acquisition and the continued relationship with the Hurt brothers will allow us to continue our expansion in west Tennessee and provide a complete line of quality farm input products to our grower customers." Sanders has recently expanded its service capabilities in Tennessee, with new retail locations in Brownsville and Huntingdon, and a depot at Nutbush Gin in Nutbush.
Brothers Ray and Trey Hurt will retain ownership and operations for Hurt Seed Company’s seed conditioning business in the same location, with all employees of the seed production business maintaining their positions under Hurt Seed Company's employ. "We have been very successful in our partnership with Sanders," said Ray Hurt, "and we appreciate that it, like our own company, is a family owned and operated organization that stays true to its southern roots and commitment to customer profitability."
Jimmy Sanders, Inc. has been committed to supplying the highest quality seed since its inception in 1953. With this acquisition, Sanders is now involved in seed production and manufacturing in four states in the Mid-South, across rice, soybeans, oats, wheat and wildlife food products (the latter through its brand, Wildwood Genetics®). In addition to seed production and sales, the company also provides agricultural chemical distribution, bulk handling of fertilizer, and – through its OptiGro® business unit – variable rate technology and other precision agriculture services. Sanders is headquartered in Cleveland, Mississippi, and currently services Mid-South growers through 62 retail locations across Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia, and wholesale distribution in Kentucky.
Cleveland, MS - “The Resistance Fighter of the Year program is designed to honor those who show exemplary leadership in the fight against glyphosate weed resistance,” said Chuck Foresman, manager of weed resistance strategies, Syngenta. “Effectively managing this issue is a top priority for Keith Baioni, and he deserves to be recognized for his efforts.”
Baioni understands the potential impact of glyphosate resistance and has made it his mission to educate growers, Sanders field staff and others in the industry about how to manage glyphosate-resistant weeds successfully. In keeping with Sanders’ philosophy that it is a partner to its growers “before seed and beyond harvest,” he developed the concept of F.A.R.M.'N. (Fall Applied Resistance Management Now) as a means to raise grower awareness of the challenges they face year-round and their need to develop a comprehensive weed-management plan well before the growing season.
“Producers need to be proactive and develop resistance-management plans that are tailor-made to the specific weed issues on their farms,” said Baioni. “Product mix, mode of action, crop rotation and tillage should all be given careful consideration when planning for successful weed management.”
Baioni recommends products like Gramoxone Inteon® herbicide for burndown, and early post-emergence applications of residual herbicides like Prefix® in soybeans and Halex® GT in corn.
The 2010 Resistance Fighters of the Year were selected by a panel including former Resistance Fighters of the Year, university weed scientists and Syngenta experts. To learn more about the Resistance Fighter of the Year program and those honored with the award, visit www.resistancefighter.com. The site also offers news and information about glyphosate weed resistance, a blog with insight from Foresman and a customized solution builder.
Cleveland, MS - Jimmy Sanders, Inc., the Mid-South's largest locally and family owned agricultural input supply company has expanded their retail operations with new locations in Brownsville and Huntingdon, TN. The new locations officially open on February 1, and will provide seed, fertilizer, and chemicals for local farmers. The new facilities will also meet their customer's precision farming needs through Sanders' OptiGro® program. OptiGro® is Sanders' Award–Winning Precision Agriculture Program that evaluates and makes recommendations to optimize the grower's operation for maximum profitability.
The Huntingdon facility will be managed by Brad Haynes and is located at 24707 Hwy 70 East , Huntingdon, TN. The Brownsville location will be managed by Rob Mann and is at 195 Hwy 70 West, Brownsville, TN. Both locations will be hiring locally to complete their staffing needs. Additionally, the Brownsville location will have an additional satellite warehouse for sales and distribution of products and OptiGro® precision ag services at the Nutbush Gin located at 11107 Highway 19 West, Brownsville,TN.
"We're very pleased to bring the Sanders brand of quality products and personal service to these great farming communities in West Tennessee," said Haynes. "Sanders is a great American company that truly cares about the profitability of its customers, the wellbeing of its employees and supporting the economic progress of the communities that we serve," added Mann.
Jimmy Sanders, Inc., established in 1953, is headquartered in Cleveland, MS and currently services Mid-South growers with 62 retail locations across Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia, and wholesale distribution in Kentucky.
Stuttgart, AR - Jimmy Sanders, Inc., the Mid-South's largest locally and family owned agricultural input supplier has successfully acquired Stuttgart Seed Company in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Stuttgart Seed has been providing high quality seed products for over fifteen years. The acquisition marks the culmination of a profitable partnership that began in 2005, when Sanders and Stuttgart Seed partnered to promote customer access to the Stuttgart Seed brand. "The owners and employees of Stuttgart Seed Company are very pleased with the recent purchase of our company by Jimmy Sanders, Inc.," said Roy (Bud) McCollum, board member and spokesperson for Stuttgart Seed Company. "We have enjoyed a very good working relationship with Jack Coleman and his staff at Sanders over the past five years. I feel very confident that the farmers we have served will receive the same efficient, competitive and timely service that they are accustomed to from both of these fine companies." The current employees of Stuttgart Seed Company will retain their positions under the new Sanders ownership. The acquisition expands Sanders’ capacity to produce and sell a proprietary rice seed product throughout one of the largest rice production markets in the world.
Jack Coleman, Location Manager for Sanders in Stuttgart commented, “We have an excellent grower base here in Stuttgart, and the staff of this location is looking forward to taking what was started and well stewarded by our local grower community to the next level”. Cam Smith, Sanders’ Regional Business Director for Arkansas, says, “The purchase of Stuttgart Seed shows Sanders’ commitment to rice seed production, but more importantly, our commitment to the local communities of Arkansas, where we appreciate the relationships we have and the support we get from our grower customers.” Tommy Jumper, Sanders’ Vice President of Seed Strategy and Manufacturing, adds, “Sanders is a locally and family owned and operated business. Companywide, we hold a strong belief in making sure that the growers and the communities that we serve benefit from our presence. We commend Stuttgart Seed for their excellent work, and we aim to make a significant investment to ensure a dependable supply of the best quality seeds for Sanders’ customers.” Jimmy Sanders, Inc. has been committed to the supply of the highest quality seed since its inception in 1953. With this acquisition, Sanders is now involved in seed production and manufacturing in four states in the Mid-South, across rice, soybeans, oats, wheat and wildlife food products (the latter through its proprietary brand, Wildwood Genetics®). In addition to seed production and sales, the company also provides agricultural chemical distribution, bulk handling of fertilizer, variable rate technology and other agronomic services.
Sanders is headquartered in Cleveland, Mississippi, and currently services Mid-South growers through 62 retail locations across Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia.
Cleveland, MS - Two more recipients of the 2010 PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence have been selected. Clint Jayroe and the OptiGro® Team, part of the Jimmy Sanders, Inc. retail operation based in Cleveland, MS, receive the Precision Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur award. The Education/Extension award recipient for 2010 is Dr. Terry Griffin, professor of economics at University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
Clint Jayroe and the OptiGro® Team
Jayroe heads up the OptiGro® Team, a full service crop consulting service provided by Jimmy Sanders, Inc. OptiGro® provides agricultural advice, information, and precision agriculture resources to farmer-customers designed to provide maximum return on investment. OptiGro® includes trained Certified Crop Advisors utilizing the latest software applications paired with Web transmission and integration for agricultural data processing, storage, and analysis. OptiGro® improves the productivity and profitability of each customer through a higher level of management and expertise.
Jimmy Sanders, Inc. has been an agricultural leader and innovator in the Mid-South since 1953, serving production agriculture with farm inputs and on-farm expertise in all aspects of the unique needs of the Mississippi River Delta region. They service a diverse crop mix of rice, cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum and even specialty crops such as sweet potatoes and peanuts.
“Their slogan, ‘Before Seed ... Beyond Harvest’ adequately describes how Sanders differs from the other input dealers and service providers,” says Darrington Seward of Seward & Son Planting Company of Louise, MS. “They have been a long time provider of precision technologies through custom application, precision soil sampling, and other grower focused tools that make technology easy to implement in large scale operations through their OptiGro® system.”
The extreme variation in Mid-South Mississippi River Delta soils originating from a combination of eolian and alluvial processes presents many challenges across the landscape. Jimmy Sanders, Inc. recognized this challenge early on and has worked to provide precision soil sampling and variable rate application for many years. Its OptiGro® program coupled with trained field representatives have made managing these challenges much easier with expert knowledge, grower accessible data and software, and over a dozen years of precision application experience, says Seward.
“OptiGro® works with producers across the Mid-South to place trials in production fields capturing thousands of acres in field trials with yield monitors,” says Seweard. “This data validates real farm conditions with each variety and product tested and offers the grower reliable information quickly. It is the ease at which this information is produced on real farms that makes OptiGro® unique and useful for growers that want quality information from their own farm.”
The basic use of OptiGro® is analyzing on-farm data to make better input decisions and when necessary, treat management zones site specifically or variable rate. OptiGro® provides a user-friendly means of producing variable rate fertilizer and seeding prescriptions as well as processing data layers such as aerial imagery for in-season decision making.
OptiGro® is a long time provider of aerial imagery to apply variable rates of plant growth regulators and defoliants in cotton production. This technology has led to significant chemical savings as well as a more manageable crop.
“Jimmy Sanders, Inc. with their OptiGro® program and trained advisors has made precision technologies practical for nearly any user,” says Seward “OptiGro® is continually adding more functionality and staying ahead of the curve with new technologies, and they really help me take full advantage of the equipment technology that I have on my farm by pairing the latest controller technologies with expert agronomic information. I use services from OptiGro® on my farm nearly every day.”
Cleveland, MS - Jimmy Sanders, Inc., the mid-south's largest locally owned agricultural input supply company, has completed the purchase of all assets from Craighead Farmers Cooperative and St. Francis County Farmers Association in northeastern Arkansas. The acquisition will double the number of the Jimmy Sanders, Inc. locations in Arkansas from 9 to 18. The offer to purchase the Cooperative's assets was voted on, and unanimously accepted, by the directors and members of the cooperatives in December of 2009. "It was an easy decision… Sanders is a family owned and operated business based in the south," said Anthony Bracy, Board President for the Craighead County Farmers Coop, " they'll be able to continue operating the (co-op) locations as they are now, with the current employees and keep money circulating in the communities – rather than sending it overseas or to Canada." “We are confident that the Sanders organization is capable of providing our current customers with the kind of innovation and product support that they deserve,” added Luther Liedlong, Board President for the St. Francis County.
The coops service a large portion of the northeast Arkansas farm communities and have provided much of the same agricultural input supplies and services as current Jimmy Sanders retail locations including seed, chemicals, fertilizer, precision agriculture prescription and custom application services. Tires, maintenance and fuel sales will be new additions to the Jimmy Sanders, Inc. product line throught the coop purchase. In addition, the coops also expand the services of the current Sanders business portfolio to include full-time CCA Certified Crop Advisors. This service is a compliment to the Sanders OptiGro® brand of precision agriculture and provides weekly consultation and advisory services from pre planting to post harvest. OptiGro® is a precision ag program that has recently gained much attention and interest from the agricultural community with the introduction of the AutoProbe®, robotic soil sampler. This innovative product increases sampling efficiency and produces more accurate data than the traditional, manual sampling techniques. The AutoProbe™ is a GPS driven sampling machine the pulls a, 6 inch core every 16 feet, or up to 20 cores every minute. The auto-steer function allows the operator to ride comfortably in the cab to collect and bag the individual samples which are pneumatically delivered from the machine while it is in operation. The result of this workflow process is that the samples are bagged, tagged and ready to go to the lab as soon as the AutoProbe is finished and on its way to the next field. “This is real farm ingenuity,” said Jeff Dearborn, Director of New Technology at Jimmy Sanders, Inc. “The AutoProbe™ does the work more accurately and in one-third of the time of manual sampling. It allows us to get the sampling results back and make accurate prescriptions for application faster than ever.” “Ultimately, the AutoProbe™ gives our customers a jump on planting by having the knowledge and satisfaction of an accurate sampling and prescription plan earlier than usual.” As part of the OptiGro® brand of precision ag products and services, the AutoProbe™ service is exclusive to Jimmy Sanders, Inc. and will be now be available to the customers of the former coops.
The coop acquisitions will give Sanders a larger Arkansas footprint by adding the cooperative's nine retail locations Bono, Lake City, Cash, Weiner (2), Jonesboro, Forrest City, Palestine and Heth. Sanders has been operating in Arkansas for several years with locations in Clarendon, Leachville, Light, Marianna, Marvell, McCrory, Wilmont, Stuttgart and Wynne. "We couldn't be happier to have the opportunity to grow in Arkansas through this purchase," said Mike Sanders, Board Chairman of Jimmy Sanders, Inc., "This is a win-win for the customers and employees of both parties, as well as the cities and towns where they are located." Combined, the former coops employ about 115 employees and have a total of 1,176 member-owners. All current coop employees will be able to continue to work under the new ownership. Jimmy Sanders, Inc. was started in 1953 by Jimmy Sanders, a native of Tippo, MS, and currently provides agricultural input products and precision ag services with 55 retail and port locations throughout Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama. The company has been serving mid-south farmers for over 57 years with ag input supplies and services and has continued to strengthen its customer's loyalty throughout the years by remaining a locally, family-owned business in an industry saturated with competitors that are part of global conglomerates. "We exist to stimulate growth in the fields and the communities of the customers that we serve," said Barry Knight, Executive Vice President and Director of Operations for Jimmy Sanders, Inc., "That's how we continue to grow the Jimmy Sanders brand and customer base before seed and beyond harvest."