There aren’t many farmers in North America who intentionally plant and nourish weeds on their farm. But Jim Sneed, who farms about 400 acres near Sedalia, Mo., is anything but conventional.
The 10-acre plot of ragweed he plants each year should be proof enough. That’s because Sneed is one of a small number of farmers across the U.S. and Canada who collect pollen from a variety of grasses, trees and weeds, and sell their harvest to pharmaceutical companies that turn the pollen into extracts for treating and testing of allergies.
Sneed is actually the second generation to manage the pollen collection business, having taken over from his late father, who began collecting pollen back in 1968. Today, Sneed and his wife, Stephanie, along with their youngest son, Jason, run their pollen collection business.
“All total, there are about 50 different plants and trees from which we collect pollen,” he told us last summer. “Of course, we don’t harvest every type of pollen every year. We generally get a list of requests early in the year, so we have time to plant a particular crop if we need to.”
Sneed, who prefers not to share many of his methods and innovations for fear of giving away too many hard-earned secrets, notes that pollen harvesting has little in common with growing corn or soybeans. For starters, there isn’t any equipment commercially available for pollen harvest.
Instead, Sneed designed and built two of his own machines. Tree pollen, meanwhile, is collected with the aid of two bucket trucks.
Sneed also bales many of the grasses and clover he uses for pollen production. For that work he trusts a Massey Ferguson® 2946A model round baler with a silage kit. “It’s been working perfectly,” Sneed relates.
“I haven’t used anything but Hesston hay equipment since I got into the hay business more than 20 years ago,” Randy McGee says, noting that his current inventory includes a WR9770 windrower and three Hesston by Massey Ferguson® balers on his Idalou, Texas, farm. “The greatest asset right now, though, is the double conditioner on the windrower. It allows me to bale at least a day earlier and usually saves one cutting or more each year from getting rained on.”
“Between the drip irrigation system, which lets me get water on the field quicker than normal, and the double conditioner, which allows me to reduce drying time and get the hay baled and off the field quicker, I’m currently cutting a crop every 21 to 24 days.”
When it comes to baling his hay, though, McGee has three options. Most of the dairy hay is put up in 4- x 4-foot bales with an MF2190 large square baler. However, he also has an MF2846A for round bales that go to local feedyards and a Hesston 4590 small rectangular baler for horse hay.
All three balers, as well as the windrower, were purchased from Livingston Equipment Company in Muleshoe, Texas. Plus, McGee is also getting a fourth piece of Massey Ferguson hay equipment—an RK Series rotary rake—that he can use for a year for having the highest overall relative feed quality (RFQ) score in last year’s Southeastern Hay Contest. (Massey Ferguson joined the program in 2015 as the title sponsor of the event and grand-prize contributor.)
“Until I bought the MF2190 big baler, I had been using an older Hesston 4910,” McGee relates. “The difference is unbelievable. With nearly double the capacity, baling takes a lot less time, which further contributes to the short time plants go without irrigation.”
For more information on the Massey Ferguson WR9770 Windrower or the Hesston by Massey Ferguson balers, see your nearest Massey Ferguson dealer or visit online at masseyferguson.us.
Being named the 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year was very good for Danny Kornegay. Among other prizes, the North Carolina farmer received a year’s use of a Massey Ferguson® 8737 tractor. The prize had a sort of back-to-the-future feel for Kornegay, who recalls as a boy riding and working on a Massey Ferguson 35 Deluxe tractor on his family’s then part-time operation.
The tractors in the 8700 Series, with 8.4-liter, 6-cylinder AGCO POWER™ engines, deliver 270 to 370 max engine HP. An Engine Power Management (EPM) system also offers an additional 30-HP boost when needed to provide more torque and power to a particular application.
“I like the features of the tractor, and it is well built,” says Danny’s son, Dan. “The Dyna-VT™ transmission is very nice because you don’t have to change gears,” says Danny. “The extended cab is really nice, and the comfortable ride may be the best feature.”
This line of tractors also features the new CYCLAIR™ cooling system that increases performance by maximizing air flow through a series of coolers and out through a redesigned hood. Vents in the hood split the air flow to expel hot air, while directing cool, fresh air toward the main radiator.
The 8700 Series tractors can be equipped with front 3-point hitches with a lift capacity up to 11,023 pounds. There is also a newly redesigned rear 3-point hitch that’s easier to use and offers an increased lift capacity of 26,355 pounds.
For more information on the Massey Ferguson 8700 Series tractors, see your nearest Massey Ferguson dealer or visit online at masseyferguson.us.
See the full story: Massey Ferguson 8737: A Legacy of Quality Continues
With the introduction last winter of the new world-class Massey Ferguson 4700 Series tractors, the industry finally has a utility tractor designed for heavier and larger implements, draft work and demanding applications that require more strength and power.
Now, Massey Ferguson is once again turning heads with the new 4700 Series cab, which was introduced just a few months ago. “This will offer greater comfort and extended use to many more customers who operate in less-than-ideal conditions,” says Warren Morris, AGCO tactical marketing manager, under 100-HP tractors. “Compared to other utility tractor cabs in the industry, it is not only larger, but even quieter.”
The new cabs feature a design based on larger-model tractors. The result is a utility tractor with mid-range comfort. As proof, the 4700 Series cab boasts 96.4 cubic feet of cab volume, compared to 89.2 cubic feet from one of the tractor’s major competitors.
In addition, Morris explains, the 4700 Series cab registers a quiet 75 decibels, which is actually lower than the average telephone dial tone. “A quieter cab and roomier operator environment equates to less fatigue at the end of a long workday,” he says.
The new cab will be available in two versions—Classic and Deluxe. Both will offer unmatched visibility and a console that conveniently groups all major controls on the right-hand side of the operator’s seat. However, the Deluxe version also includes a mechanical swiveling seat with armrests, a tilt and telescopic steering column, internal mirror, telescopic large side mirrors, and a rear wiper and washer. Options on both versions include an instructor seat and front fenders that pivot with the front wheels.
“With the introduction of a brand-new utility series in the 4700 Series and the update of our existing utility offering in the 4600M Series, Massey Ferguson now covers the utility tractor market more comprehensively than any other competitor,” Morris concludes.
For more information on the Massey Ferguson 4700 Series tractors or the new 4700 Series global cab, see your nearest Massey Ferguson dealer or visit online at masseyferguson.us.
Butch Gist and Marvin Davis are something of a dynamic duo. Together, they own D&G Chopping, a silage harvesting and packing operation, and run the latter’s family business, Gist Farms, a conglomeration of trucking, rail, equipment repair and farming.
Having worked together for 40-plus years, the two have weathered the ups and downs that buffet any business. Having experienced it in the fast-paced, topsy-turvy environment that is California agriculture, it has at times seemed more like a super roller-coaster ride, complete with barrel rolls and loop-de-loops.
They’ve seen business models and farms come and go. Yet, they’ve adapted and survived, even thrived. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in farming,” Davis says. “But we’ve found our way … found a way to adapt as the business changed.”
For instance, some 20-plus years ago, dairies began replacing many row-crop operations in California’s Central Valley. Running a custom harvesting operation, Davis and Gist realized they needed to change their focus, too. “The dairy industry just exploded in our area,” Davis says. “They were moving everything over to chopping, to silage. By the end of that first season, we had three new choppers … and basically a new business.”
D&G Chopping was born. “That was 25 years ago,” continues Davis, “and since then we’ve begun packing that silage for our customers, and all along watching for other opportunities.”
Yet, one of their secrets to success is not jumping into new ventures too quickly. Another is finding the right partners, which Davis and Gist say they have in many facets, including their choice of AGCO and their Challenger MT955E. They use the latter in packing silage and are extremely happy with its comfort, fuel efficiency, durability and power.
Another ingredient, says Gist: “It all goes back to the saying that I always felt was important: ‘The secret to success is putting your shadow on your business … across what’s going on.’ You just have to make sure you’re there watching and stay in touch.”