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Playing Production Intern for a Day

Published on Thursday, June 09, 2016

Being a Beck’s Production Intern is far more than just scouting fields. I found this out for myself when I had a chance to tag along with Kaitlin and Brandt, two of this year’s interns, earlier this week. In just a few short hours, I got an up-close look at Beck’s Production Agronomy Department.

I became intrigued with this position when my roommate, Kaitlin, began to tell stories about what she has been working on each day. Kaitlin Waibel, originally from Remington, Indiana, is going into her sophomore year at Purdue University where she is majoring in International Agronomy. Joining her as a production intern is Brandt Davis, a Noblesville, Indiana native also at Purdue, majoring in Agriculture Economics with an emphasis in sales and marketing. Upon my request, the two were eager to share their daily duties with me.


Beck's production interns Brandt Davis and Kaitlin Waibel

Dabbling in Research
Our first stop of the day was at the production research test plot where we were looking at the germination timing of different inbreds. Breeding and growing hybrid seed involves a repeated process of crossing two specially selected varieties to achieve a superior genetic make-up. By breeding a select “male” variety to a designated “female” variety, we can develop hybrids in much shorter periods of time than through traditional methods.

However, for pollination to occur at the correct interval, males and females must be planted at different times. Every set of “male” and “female” inbred have a unique planting instruction given to them. Because this time frame is not flexible, planters may have to reenter fields when conditions are less than ideal. Due to those constraints the agronomy team plants each male inbred in a research plot and observes germination rates and vigor. This gives them a better understanding of male delays and how best to work with each inbred to create a successful hybrid.

Kaitlin and Brandt visit the plot daily to count seed emergence in the rows. With this data, they will be able to determine a successful planting plan.

                                

Beck's interns Kaitlin Waibel and Brandt Davis count emergence on the production test plot.

The Life of a Field Scout
Scouting fields is a big part of what these interns do, and it is something that both Kaitlin and Brandt take very seriously. To scout a field properly takes time. However, they both agreed that they see the experience as something more than just work. Rather, it is an opportunity for them to learn in a way that cannot be matched in the classroom.
  
“There’s so many different kinds of weeds you have to learn,” Kaitlin said, reflecting on one of her experiences at school. “But in the field, you only see about 10 different types of weeds, so you just learn those individually. You learn each one’s growth stages. You learn what’s applicable here.”

In addition to his classroom experiences, Brandt added, “Not having grown up on a farm, I feel kind of behind in many aspects. I’ve learned more than I guessed I would about the process. It puts me on a more level playing field.”

We showed up at a 27-acre field, where the pair began explaining some of the things they were looking for. In addition to measuring the height of the corn and taking the soil temperature, Kaitlin and Brandt showed me how they preform stand counts that allow them to estimate the per acre population of the field. They also note the growth stage of the plants, weeds found, and the occurrence of any insect pests. Some of the most common things they have seen include giant ragweed, lamb’s quarters, army worms, cutworm, and a lot of frost damage. All of this data is entered in an app to be reviewed by their supervisor later. 


Beck's interns Kaitlin and Brandt debate the identity of a weed they have found.

Bee Keeping
As Brandt left to survey more fields, Kaitlin took me to see a project that she has been working on for the past few weeks. Counting bees. Declining populations of pollinators, such as bees and other insects, have recently become an important topic. With that in mind, Beck’s wanted to do some research.

They placed several bee hives directly adjacent to one of their fields. Every two days, Kaitlin visits to measure the dead loss found directly in front of the hives. Later, she will compile the data she has collected into a spreadsheet. By graphing her findings, she should be able to correlate what is happening in the hives to what is happening in the fields. If we can understand the effect our farming practices have on the natural world, we can take steps to correct it.


Beck's intern Kaitlin Waibel counts bees to see the effects farming practices have on their populations.

This is just a small piece of what the Production Interns at Beck’s have been working on this summer. They will continue to scout fields, assist in research, and oversee the production of Beck’s seed. One thing is for sure, these are not just little “intern projects.” It’s the real deal.

Beck’s interns are given real responsibility and various opportunities to discover what full-time positions entail. Brandt and Kaitlin suggest this internship to students interested in working independently in the outdoors and those who have a passion for learning about production agronomy in a hands-on environment.

Maybe the production department isn’t your thing? Stay tuned throughout the summer as I continue to highlight the hard work of our interns in areas such as research, products, and sales on Intern Avenue!

 

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Celina Young
Celina Young>

Celina Young

As an enthusiastic young professional in agriculture, Celina Young has found a place at Beck's Superior Hybrids as a marketing intern.

Other posts by Celina Young
Contact author Full biography

Full biography

As an enthusiastic young professional in agriculture, Celina Young has found a place at Beck's Superior Hybrids as a marketing intern. Entering her senior year at Iowa State University, she prides herself on being a world traveler, dairy lover, movie fanatic, and atypical agriculturalist. Follow her on Twitter @Celina_E_Young or join her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/celinayoung

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