Field Days 2017

Continuing Success in the Field

Field Days 2017 Event

[Newdale, American Falls, Idaho Falls, and Blackfoot]

On July 11-14, Thresher brought together valued growers for the annual Field Days events. Each year, the Field Days events serve to keep growers updated on current market happenings and provide them the opportunity to hear from other leaders in the industry. The 2017 Field Days events had strong attendance and provided growers with several helpful resources and new ideas to help ensure their continued success in the field.

Thresher kicked off the featured presentation with a quick market update, discussed strides in safety and offered helpful tips on storing product. Thresher’s seed program will offer the same continued varieties from 2016 and is excited to announce the addition of three more to support Thresher’s dedication to providing consistent and high quality product. The following seed varieties are now available:

  • Assure – Soft White
  • LCS Jet – HRW
  • WB 4623CLP – Clearfield Hard red winter

Thresher Fall 2017 Seed Varieties:

  • SWW
  • WB 1529
  • WB 456
  • SY Ovation
  • Assure, new! Higher TW than Ovation, excellent yield potential, limited supply
  • Brundage

Blended varieties are also available. Seed Sales Manager Brett Wilken states that last year WB 1529/ SY Ovation and WB 456/ SY Ovation were popular blends among growers. The test weight and quality of WestBred wheat with the high yield potential of SY Ovation offer a blend that includes the best of both varieties. To learn more, click here.

Syngenta will be expanding their leadership in the sustainability field through the AgriEdge program. AgriEdge is linked to their Land.db technology and helps growers track and record their sustainability efforts while finding the bottom line. Syngenta offers to pay $1 per acre, for up to 1,500 acres, for sustainability data offered by growers.

One of WestBred’s growers, Terry Wilcox of Idaho, was the second-place winner of the last National Wheat Yield Contest. WestBred encourages growers to enter in contests and will pay for contest entry fees.

Grain Craft detailed their expertise in food safety. They are focused on helping growers to get their product approved and, with the help of Thresher, will check your product to see if it is subject to being rejected. Anyone concerned about COFO wheat (chemical residue) or the correct grain protectant to use for storing this year’s grain crop should contact their local Thresher manager or Heath Harrison or Brett Wilkin for further details.

Seed Days

Planting the Seeds of Success

On February 14, Thresher hosted our annual crop planning event, Seed Days, in Fort Hall. The goal for every Thresher event is to provide useful insights on the agronomic and grain market trends of most use to our growers, and Seed Days 2017 was no exception.

Bradford Warner, vice president of marketing at parent company Agspring, and Thresher CEO Don Wille opened the event. Wille encouraged growers to work with their local grain elevator managers to ensure they choose their seed varieties wisely in the current market. “We don’t take our relationships with you lightly, and we will continue to find ways to better your business,” said Wille.

The vendor portion of the event kicked off with each of the 16 vendors at Seed Days giving a brief overview of what they had to offer. Growers were encouraged to stop by the vendor booths to discuss what products and services could help their operations.

The Heart of the Event

The meat of Seed Days 2017 consisted of our informative panel discussions. The panels featured impressive lineups of experts discussing issues such as irrigation strategies, financial game plans and the current wheat market.

Panel 1: Saving Water and Improving Yields with Technology – Moderated by Bradford Warner


  • Bill Marek, irrigation researcher – Marek’s presentation, “Prevailing Wind and the Yield Impacts,” featured 2016 research on 33 pivots (potatoes and peas) that found that prevailing wind does impact yields. His percentile difference assessment found that growers are best served and will receive the biggest return in the shortest amount of time by extending efforts to make the poorest performing parts of the field do better.
  • Jeff Peters, director of sustainability and partnerships at Agrible – Peters spoke about the benefits of Agrible’s Morning Farm Report ®, a tool that takes field-level insights and gives you the power to make the best decisions.
  • Howard Neibling, associate professor at University of Idaho – Neibling walked through the recent LESA study on irrigation for dry bean, alfalfa, grain and potato production. The LESA work was funded by three years of grant support from Bonneville Power Administration and one year from AB.

Panel 2: Best Practices and Research Update from the 200 Bushel Club – Moderated by Brett Wilken, Founder, 200 Bushel Club & Thresher Idaho Seed Manager

Panel members included members of the 200 Bushel Club: Juliet Marshall, associate professor, plant pathologist at University of Idaho; Gary Farmer, agronomist at Bingham Co-op; Mike Erickson, seed treatment specialist at McGregor Co.; Dale Clark, director of research at Northern Seed; Kirk Jacobs, Silver K Farms; Cathy Wilson, director of research collaboration at Idaho Wheat Commission; Dr. Greg Blaser, senior agronomy professor at BYU-Idaho (retired).

200 Bushel Club Findings – In 2016, the 200 Bushel Club examined five field sites. Using Lemken and John Deere drilling implements, the club came to some unusual conclusions considering the variability of the field and in-season visual differences. The club determined that the unusual results were due to:

  • Seeds being planted into a dry seed bed
  • Spring rains missed the fields
  • There were seven weeks between planting and the first irrigation
  • Water was the limiting factor and restricted the crop’s production capabilities

Panel 3: Impact of the Markets and Managing Your P&L


  • Warren Preston, deputy chief economist at USDA – Preston previewed the 2017 agricultural outlook. The USDA has projected a flat farm income and a competitive trading environment.
  • Mike O’Dea, risk management consultant, INTL FCStone – O’Dea gave growers a forward look on wheat. According to FCStone, the U.S. will continue to be the residual supplier to the world since the U.S. has the capacity to store the world’s surplus supply.
  • Jennifer Shaw, Ph.D., head of sustainability North America at Syngenta – Shaw discussed the importance of knowing your bottom line. Shaw says that farm management software is the foundation so growers can visualize the operation and easily determine their break-even points.

Panel 4: Seed Performance and the Best Varieties for 2017

  • Trenton Stanger, WestBred representative – Stanger gave comparative information about WestBred’s leading seed varieties for all the wheat classes, including hard red, hard white, soft white wheat and Alzada durum.
  • Tony Severa, Syngenta – Severa discussed Syngenta’s industry-leading hard white wheat varieties, “Bullseye” hard red spring and two new varieties for 2018.
  • Mike Erickson, McGregor Co. – Erickson presented some compelling research supporting the class-leading seed treatments offered by Thresher. For instance, Cruisermaxx .33 showed three-bushel yield gains over the next closest rival in the McGregor 2016 seed treatment trials.
  • Ryan Webber, WestBred – Webber announced the National Wheat Yield winners who grew Thresher seed. Terry Wilcox took second place nationally, growing WB 9668. Brad Parks placed second in Idaho, growing WB 9411. Both used WestBred hard red spring wheats.

Grand Prize Winners

Seed Days 2017 attendees received some wonderful prizes thanks to key sponsors like Agrible, AquaSpy, McGregor, WestBred, Syngenta, Wilbur-Ellis, Lemken and Rain for Rent.
2017 grand prize winners:

  • Brad Baker won a drone kit donated by Agrible
  • Jeff VanOrden won the AquaSpy Probe Kit donated by AquaSpy
  • Chevy Bingham won an Old Town Canoe donated by McGregor
  • Brad Reed won a Milwaukee drill set donated by WestBred

We want to thank everyone for coming to this year’s Seed Days! To download the panel presentations, click here. For more information on Thresher events, please call the Blackfoot office at (208) 785-4460, or contact your local grain elevator manager.
Click HERE to download all the 2017 Seed Days presentations.


Questioning the Right Date: Collaborating to influence the best RMA Wheat planting date change

Thresher Seed Manager Brett Wilken has led the charge to help get the fall planting date for wheat moved back in the interest of our producers. Wilken started the process back in July by requesting the Idaho Wheat Commission look into extending the fall-planted wheat insurance cutoff dates in Idaho.

A combination of climate factors affect fall-planted wheat and other crops in diverse ways. Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) is one disease that is beginning to thrive in fall-planted winter wheat because of the later arrival of cooler weather. As our scientific advisers have shown, BYDV reduces yields and quality of the crop.

The Thresher team believed the company should take a proactive stance and not ignore the problem. Wilken had asked about changing the winter wheat cutoff dates in past years because of the local demand for hard red winter wheat (HRW) by important customers. It is preferred to plant HRW following potato harvest because potato fields need the most fertile ground and will generally get a better protein level when planted earlier than when they follow other crops. Wilken was told that changing the date would very difficult, but that did not deter him.

Currently the insurance cutoff date for Bingham County is October 15; however, the Thresher team has seen producers plant successfully until November 1 for more than a decade. With our changing climate and disease threat, planting too early appears to be a larger insurance/farm risk than planting late or after the current cutoff date and not being covered under federal crop insurance.

Now with the recent emergences of BYDV, Thresher recommends farmers delay planting at least 2 weeks confirmed by research that shows it is better to plant after October 1. Logistically, the Thresher team wondered, how an average or large farm would plant winter wheat if they are only given 2 weeks, especially considering that most farmers in our area are also harvesting potatoes in that same time frame.

When producers communicated to Thresher managers that they were going to plant as they always have and hope insurance will cover them, Wilken recognized this was not a good scenario for anyone: the Idaho Wheat Commission, input retailers, Thresher, or our downstream customers.

“Working with the 200 Bushel Club, Thresher strives to help improve wheat yields through best practices and newest technology to make sure wheat stays as a viable lead crop in Eastern Idaho,” said Wilken. “Optimal planting dates remain a critical part of the yield equation and they needed to be adjusted to provide producers the best scenario for success with winter wheat.”

Over the ensuing weeks, members of the 200 Bushel Club, Idaho Wheat Commission, Barley Commission and Idaho Grain Producers Association (IGPA) responded agreeing that the date change was needed. Wilken scheduled a conference call with interested parties and discussed the best path for moving forward despite being told that there was no way to get the date change implemented for planting in the fall of 2016. Stacey Satterlee with IGPA took the lead on pushing the request through and contacted RMA about the date change. IGPA included the fall planting date cutoff discussion at the district meetings held throughout the state in October to gather feedback from their grower base. Positive input from these meetings has helped push the change closer to realization.

The RMA internal deadline to initiate the change is at the end of March, and the team worked to finalize the request at the IGPA board meeting in October so it could be shared and considered at Tri-State Grain Growers Convention in November. Thresher will strive to keep producers up-to-date on the final resolution next year.

Market Update by Mark Hanson, VP Merchandising

Generally speaking, the wheat markets have been trading range bound since the middle of September after testing the support levels in late August.  Speculators accumulated sizable short positions to reach those lows but with this pressure, it discouraged the amount of spot selling during the latter part of harvest.  Lacking that fuel, the market bounced back as the speculators evened up their positions.  While a bounce occurred, the supplies continue to be a concern.  The combination of burdensome wheat carryouts both in the US and the world, very comfortable corn stocks and no major production concerns overall have limited the upside potential for wheat.

The PNW export market for this fall continues to be focused on the corn and soybean potential since the wheat demand is still rather disappointing.  Some of the traditional users of US wheat did execute some purchases during the lows but US values continue to be priced at a premium compared to the Black Sea region and Australia.  The US Dollar continues to trade on the top side of the market since it made the surge against other currencies beginning in mid-2014.  Below is the US Dollar index chart over the past 5 years:

Now that the election is complete, the market finally has settled down.  Initially, the market was quite volatile given the surprise outcome of the election.  Optimism continues to grow for the US economy with the latest GDP growth outlook from the OECD projection growth of 2.3% in 2017 and 3.0 for 2018.  This is having a major impact on the US Dollar strength with is at a 5 year high.  This strength is making US wheat less competitive in the world marketplace so most of the demand will be centered on having the best quality wheat in the world.

Technically, there is not much to be excited about.  While the downside seems to be fortified for now at $3.62 the Chicago Wheat, we are seeing good resistance at the 38% retracement at $4.25. If that resistance does break, there is only another 20 cents of upside.  Something more fundamental needs to occur before the market can go up further than this.  Since demand is rather tempered, this likely will have to come from Southern Hemisphere weather concerns.  Below is the latest chart analysis:

Looking at the 15-seasonal, there are also some challenges for the upside potential.  With plenty of stocks at this moment and demand lagging, the remainder of the crop year could be difficult to attract support.  Below is the seasonal action.  While I feel the downside targets on these charts are too negative, I do believe these challenges are rational given the current market environment.

Welcome to the New Producer Portal

Thresher is dedicated to grower needs. Thus, we are excited to announce the new Producer Portal. It’s an all-purpose gateway for growers to easily access real-time account information including:

  • General Account
  • Information Contracts
  • Tickets
  • Payments and Invoices Settlements

In addition, valuable resources like current news, DTN feeds and market information can also be found on this site. For more information and to sign up, contact Chelsea Chavez at 208-522-2413 or email When signing up, please be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Farm owner’s first and last name
  • Contract email
  • Farm name to associate
  • Name of anyone who can view the account (receptionist, farm manager, etc.) Please note there will be only one account created.

Farmers Lead Conservation Efforts with No-Till Farming and Cover Crops

Soil-conservation measures to create environmentally friendly farming practices continue to gain popularity. Growers are exploring no-till farming techniques and cover crops to protect and conserve their soil. In Idaho, the Madison Soil & Water Conservation District visited farms in a tour of no-till, direct-seed farming and the use of cover crops. Click here to read the full article from the Idaho Soil and Water Conversation Commission.  


Thresher Safety Days a Success

“No amount of grain is worth someone’s life,” said Eric Neibaur, Thresher Artisan Wheat Safety and Preventative Maintenance Manager. His sentiment was kept prominently in mind when we planned and hosted a two-day safety event for all employees.

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) ranks agriculture third in total number of deaths among all U.S. occupations, behind only construction and transportation (Texas A&M). The data only reinforces the Thresher belief in the value of safety and safety training. We truly believe that the only way to lower the amount of injuries or death in our industry is through training and education.

Committing to safety

We were pleased that in early June, the Idaho Falls community welcomed more than 90 Thresher employees to town to learn about safer ways to serve their communities and customers.

The two-day event included CPR and first-aid training, hearing exams, engulfment training, fall training with harnesses, training for safety in confined spaces, understanding of rail cars, hazard communications, high-voltage safety and education about dangerous occurrences such as arc flash.

“For me, the biggest takeaway from this event was seeing all of the new faces present. It is always encouraging to see more people enjoying learning the importance of safety in the agriculture industry,” said Neibaur. He was also encouraged that so many staff offered positive feedback on this event, making him optimistic about safety training geared toward growers this fall.

“People grow up on farms or in a farming community where hard work is emphasized,” Neibaur said. “That leaves people with the mentality that safety takes a backseat to production. At Thresher, productivity is important, but it takes a backseat to safety.”

Thresher reinforces a commitment to safety by hosting a variety of safety events for employees throughout the year, including monthly safety training sessions, online safety courses through Safety Made Simple, and an annual progressive safety event that focuses on eight key safety principles.

A community event

To continue our effort to prioritize safety among American farmers, we’ve organized the Thresher Safety Day event, to be held with the community this fall. Producers, families, and schools should look forward to participating in the life-saving principles that will aid in lowering the number of agriculture-related deaths and incidents across the country.

Sources/Related Links:

A convenient new format for Thresher Field Days

July 12 • American Falls | July 12 • Blackfoot | July 13 • Newdale

Get together. Grow together.

We at Thresher understand that every season is a busy time of year for producers. We also understand that your time is a valuable commodity, so we’re switching up our Field Days format this year to be more accommodating of your busy schedule.

The new Field Days format will take place three different times in three different places, for your convenience. We hope to see you on July 12 or 13 for one of the sessions at American Falls, Blackfoot or Newdale. Each session will feature a grower-appreciation meal and engaging discussion about the latest grain markets, seed options and harvest plans; and we’ll also give you details about our new producer portal.

Check below for the different dates, times and locations of 2016 Field Days; and RSVP for the event that suits your schedule. We also recommend checking out the Grain Craft Blackfoot Mill and Thresher Newdale tour sessions. We look forward to to getting together and growing together!

Event Details                   

American Falls
July 12 | 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
American Falls City Park
3592 North Park Lane
American Falls, ID 83211

July 12 | 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Jensen’s Grove Shelter
785 Jensen’s Grove
Blackfoot, ID 83221

Newdale/Idaho Falls
July 13 | 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Teton Pavilion
126 W. Main Street
Teton, ID 83451

Facility Tours

Available to everyone.

Grain Craft Blackfoot Mill Tour and Q&A
463 West Hwy 26
Blackfoot, ID 83221
Tours start at 2:00, 2:30, 3:00,
3:30 and 4:00 p.m.

Thresher Newdale Facility Tour and Q&A
211 Truck Route
Newdale, ID 83436
Tour starts at 12:30 p.m.

To RSVP or request more information, please call your local grain elevator manager, or call the Blackfoot office at (208) 785-4460. Please RSVP by July 1.       

Market Update: Corn and Bean Strength Leading to Support in Wheat

By Mark Hanson, Vice President of Merchandising


Wheat has largely been caught in the lower-end range for much of 2016 due to building ending stocks and an overall bearish commodity environment. Since mid-2014, the U.S. dollar index rose from .80 to the current .94. Along with worldwide wheat ending stocks rising 21 percent during the same period, the market has seen little concern about having adequate supplies. Wheat harvest has begun in the Southern Plains, and early consensus is that the crop will be very large. In the June WASDE report, the USDA has increased their U.S. yield estimate by 2.1 bushels per acre to 48.6. While they increased export projections by 25 million bushels to 900 million bushels and increased feed-use volumes by 30 million bushels to 200 million bushels, they are projecting ending stocks to reach 1.050 billion bushels. This is an increase of 39 percent from just two years ago. With projected stocks-to-use to reach 49 percent, any purchasing excitement in wheat has been limited.

Since late May, wheat has seen some changes. While some concerns have built up about the excessive rains in the EU, as well as lower production in India and fewer plantings in Canada, the wheat market has seen more support building up due to some concerns in the corn and soybean markets. While the recent buildup of wheat has started to raise concerns, demand for both corn and beans has picked up as well. The USDA lowered the 2016/17 corn ending stocks from 145 million bushels to 2.008 billion for next year. This was due to a 50-million-bushel increase to exports and a 95-million-bushel decrease to the current year’s ending stocks. Soybeans now see a pretty sizable 7.9 percent increase in exports, which leads to a 110-million-bushel decrease of ending stocks year-on-year to 260 million bushels. Since no adjustments were made to the yields for corn and beans, the recent weather issues are now beginning to be more relevant to the market.

June typically is a difficult month for rallies. With wheat harvest just beginning, and corn and beans growing, there normally is more selling pressure as farmers are more comfortable selling out stocks and locking in some of their new crop supplies. Below shows a 30-year seasonal pattern for December Chicago wheat:


This pattern is consistent with corn and soybeans as well. Once the harvest lows are established on wheat, and corn reaches the key pollination period, weather typically gains more relevance for market support. This year support showed up much sooner, most likely due to the market being overly bearish for so long. When the market wanted to cover their short positions, few fresh sellers were willing to come back in. This allowed corn, beans and wheat to make some impressive rallies. There is a bias building that a developing La Nina pattern will lead to hot and dry conditions later in the key July/August pollination and pod set period.

Technically, the recovery defined key support and resistance levels. The continuous Chicago wheat market established a well-defined peak in July 2015 and a key low in March 2016. The 50 percent Fibonacci retracement is at $5.26, which also showed strong resistance last fall. The recent rally made another attempt on testing this resistance point. While time will tell whether this will hold, currently, it appears that it will hold until some more material happens fundamentally to warrant a move through that key level. Below is the Chicago wheat continuous chart:


Over the next couple of months, the market will define itself further as clarity develops around true production and the impacts of actual demand. Weather will be one key factor through August, but U.S. Dollar strength and overall economic data will also factor in. Once the actual production is known, demand will again be the major factor for the market direction. Until then, it appears to be a technically driven market.

Cover Crops: A Underrated Necessity

The number of cover-crop acres planted in the U.S. continues to rise. 2013 USDA National Ag Statistics Survey (NASS) data suggests 10.3 million acres of cover crops were planted in 2012, a significant increase over the previous yea.  Current trends continue to suggest growth in cover-crop , with predictions of 40 million acres planted by 2020.

Why have cover crops become so important in agriculture?

Increasing cover-crop acreage is the the result of many factors, most notably:

  • Higher land values
  • Increased awareness in nutrient management and water quality
  • Upswing in environmental awareness and protection
  • Availability of government funding
  • Changes in weather patterns

In addition, retailers are taking more steps to ensure their food is safe and produced in a sustainable manner including cash crops.

Will the increase in importance continue?

Recently, there have been significant increases in attention given to water quality initiatives in the U.S. This attention includes nutrient reduction strategies across the country and the recent Clean Water Rule release (Clean Water Act in the 2014 Farm Bill). For example, all 12 states along the Mississippi River have drafted nutrient reduction strategies. Cover crops are a major factor on all of these initiatives.

Why are cover crops beneficial?

The benefits of cover crops are numerous. Reducing erosion, sequestering nutrients, building organic matter and soil tilth, and improving nutrient cycling are just a few. They also suppress weeds, insects and pests and break up soil hard-pan layers. They increase soil moisture by converting energy to organic matter, which reduces runoff and evaporation by increasing soil moisture capacity.

How do cover crops work? 

Cover crops (and their roots) keep the microbials that restore organic matter and nutrient levels in the soil active for a longer period of time. This is especially important when soil is covered for the entire season. With live roots in the soil, important fungus like Mycorrhizae hyphae help build aggregate stability, which leads to better soil structure. Live roots start the process of building soil aggregates or soil peds, which leads to better soil structure, which leads to better movement of air, water, and nutrients.

How Thresher can help

Thresher offers cover crop mixes specially formulated for the region and for the traditional small grain/potato rotation. The mixes offered (through a partnership with La Crosse Seed) include species that offer multiple benefits, both in the short term and with an eye towards improving soil health for years to come. These cover-crop mixes advance the opportunity for growers to improve soil structure and resilience, enhance nutrient availability and suppress harmful pests while slowing the effects of erosion and soil compaction that often result from today’s farming practices. Read more about our cover crop mixes here.

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Win in this year’s National Wheat Yield Contest! Click here to learn how.