By Rachel Raymond, with growers of Indigo Wheat
U.S. winter wheat was hit hard with challenging growing conditions this past season. The USDA expects a nationwide harvest of 1.2 billion bushels, which would be the lowest since 2002. Dry months after planting paired with freezes in April and then extremely hot temperatures during grain fill were a perfect storm for wheat growers. In Texas and Oklahoma, many fields were abandoned for the year, which means it wasn’t worthwhile for the growers to even harvest — Texas saw a 66% abandonment rate and Oklahoma 54%, which are historic highs.
At Indigo, we contracted with wheat growers across the U.S.: we worked with them throughout the growing season, providing treated seed and data-based agronomic advice, and are purchasing their harvests at a premium to sell directly to interested grain buyers.
We’re proud to report that on many farms our microbial treatment — developed to increase plant health in the face of water stress — was able to protect harvests despite challenging conditions. We know that environmental stresses can vary dramatically within just a few days, and have developed our proprietary microbial technology with this variation in mind, helping plants to maintain performance.
We’d like to share a handful of comments and pictures from the growers that we’re working with. Thanks very much to each of you for putting your faith in us — for giving us a shot. We know we’re not perfect, but we’re off to a good start and are committed to improving on our offering and performance each year. Above all, we’re committed to working with you to improve the profitability of your operation and the health of your land, in good years and bad.
“We only had 1.4 inches of rain over six months. Everything around the field that wasn’t Indigo was 15-20 bushels per acre, but Indigo’s field harvested 33 bushels per acre. We had Indigo flags on our field that you could see from the road. At 65 miles per hour you could see there was something different about our field. Every neighbor was calling and asking, ‘What is Indigo?’”
— Brandon Bush, Oklahoma
“You can’t see how good Indigo is until you get on board. The price premium is excellent and they check on you during the season — they want to be a partner. We’re going to increase the number of acres we’re growing with them next year.”
— Jason Stroebel, Texas
“I think that the worse the conditions, the more Indigo will help. With what it’s been through, my wheat is yielding better than you’d think. I’m impressed. We planted late and then didn’t have rain for about 140 days in some areas. I really think the seed treatment is a good product and I’ll definitely be looking at it again next year.”
— Brad Loesch, Oklahoma
“We’d had less than an inch and a half of rain and just a skiff of snowfall all winter until we started getting adequate moisture. Going into harvest you could tell the difference between Indigo and non-Indigo fields. I thought it would be a 5- to 6-bushel variance but it was an 11- to 12-bushel difference. One of my best Indigo fields produced an average of 52 bushels with a 64-pound test weight; my non-Indigo fields produced 40 bushels and a 61.5-pound test weight. Visually, they were healthier plants. We hit a home run with the production this year.”
— Mike Newman, Kansas
“In this first year with Indigo, we had a terrible growing season. It didn’t rain for most of the fall, we also had a late freeze. Well, this wheat crop has been exceptional. I can see trends — I live and die by numbers — and this was a yield bump. All of us are a bit surprised, to be honest. I would’ve been happy with a 4 bushel per acre yield increase, and we’ve exceeded that.”
— Elisabeth Leistikow, Kansas
“I would say try Indigo. I was skeptical, but decided to try it. In a bad growing season, Indigo Wheat stood out and looked good — more prolific, greener, vigorous. I planted non-Indigo wheat just a half a mile away and it didn’t do anything.”
— Lee Jost, Texas
From the fields of Larry & Doug Manhart, Kansas
From the fields of Blake Nichols, Kansas