I've already been to two field days, three counting the field day of all field days, the Farm Progress Show, held this year in Boone, Iowa. It returns next year to Decatur, Ill. But then it is in a class of its own.
I was invited to the Select Seed Field Day in Camden. I won't go to a field day unless I think I can get a story out of it. I satisfied that requirement pretty quick. Someone from Bayer was talking about Votivo, a new product that suppresses nematodes. It will be ready to be coated on corn next spring, and soybeans in 2012.
I also learned more about western bean cutworm at the Syngenta stop. And by blurting out an answer, I picked up a 'made in China' tape measure. The way I lose them, they always come in handy at my house.
The highlight of the morning program was a corn trivia quiz, operated by a local radio station that works with Select Seeds. Out of each group through the tent they picked five finalists, then had a run off. The winner got a cool Select Seed jacket and some tickets to games or something. I was more interested in writing down the facts they gave out so I could make a story out of it than playing. Of course I didn't know they had them typed up on paper and I could have copied them later.
Oh yes, before I left the Syngenta stop, I hit him up for a pee wee size basketball. My 10-month old grandson thought it was cool. It's a learning tool to help him crawl. Or at least that's why I told the guy I needed it. Hey, he was giving them out to anyone who asked for one.
The high point of any field day is always the food. And I was all set for this one- the caterer was cooking up my favorite field day food- big breaded tenderloins. Unfortunately, duty called me off before they served lunch. I settled for chicken strips and potato wedges from one of those restaurant places in a gas station my Food Science major daughter says I shouldn't eat at. I'm still alive.
Later in the week I hit Becknology Days, sponsored by Beck's Hybrids, Atlanta, Ind. I guess it's still a field day- it's more like part educational fair, part circus, part department store, part education field tours on wagons, all wrapped into one.
Some 20 salesmen were buys all a t\ once, and they were writing orders, not just talking. Don't ask me how they do it. Others have tried to figure it out. In three days an estimated 6,000 people went through the event. This time I didn't miss the food. To make sure I made the right choice on meat, I take some of each- a barbecued pork chop, a barbecued chicken breast, and a heaping helping of roast beef. Oh my, Shoup's Catering sure knows how to cook. I even sat by some people I know, and got a good lead on a story. Can't beat that deal with a stick!
Last year Beck's helped customers buy 1,400 four-wheelers as incentives for buying seed at field days. This year they had a huge tent full of stuff, ranging form fancy cooker grills to 42-inch TVs to lawnmowers and small utility tractors. Buy so much seed, get credit toward a bonus item.
One farmer walking by wasn't so thrilled. “If they just took money off the seed, I wouldn't have to pay so much,” he said. “I'm helping pay for all this stuff.”
I couldn't help but ask. Did you get a four-wheeler last year? “Well, yes, I was going to sell it, but you know, it's pretty cool.'
Another farmer took a different view. “You know what, they could knock $10 off a bag of seed corn, and next year who would remember that? But give me a Gator, or help me buy it cheap- now that I'll remember forever. It's pretty slick marketing if you ask me.
Don't worry, I didn't leave with anything but some literature…and a belly full of good food.