Securing the legacy of growers' operations in North Carolina
Published: Mar 23, 2023
Growing up on a small dairy farm in the US, it was an easy decision for Brenna Pence, a Crop Consultant in Yadkinville, North Carolina, to choose a career path in the agriculture industry. From her experiences on her family’s farm, Brenna developed a love for agronomy and animal sciences, which she went on to study at North Carolina State University.
“I couldn’t pick between agronomy and animal science while getting my degree, but after graduation, agronomy is where I found my first home. I get to help farms like the one I grew up on and the one my husband and his family have run for over 200 years,” says Brenna. “I really enjoy problem solving and helping people figure out a solution to issues that they have. It’s really rewarding when I can help a customer improve something they’re doing and to help ensure they’re going to be around for another generation.”
“Another member of our crew...”
Brenna moved to Virginia for her first job out of college with Southern States, an agriculture co-operative, where she worked primarily with poultry, beef cattle, as well as farm and home related products. After a year in Virginia, Brenna moved on to Statesville, NC, to work at a Southern States Crop Center.
During that time, she obtained her Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) Certification. In 2011, Brenna officially joined Crop Protection Services, a Nutrien Ag Solutions’ legacy company, and became a Crop Consultant for the Yadkinville branch. Fast forward 12 years, and she’s still there today.
Ben Hobson of Hobson Farms in Boonville, NC has been working with Brenna for 10 years. What he enjoys the most about working with Brenna is how they bounce ideas off of each other and work together to come up with solutions for his land.
“Brenna is always a phone call away. She is very knowledgeable and helps us stay up to date on new products and technologies. It feels like Brenna is another member of our crew here at Hobson Family Farms,” says Ben.
Planting season in the Tar Heel state
As we kick-off planting season, which typically runs March to May in the US, Brenna’s days will be busy supporting the growers in her area. At the Yadkinville branch, a small team supports the surrounding counties so it’s all hands on deck during the busy season to make sure all of their growers are getting the services they need.
A typical day in planting season for Brenna entails finding solutions for issues that pop up during the planting and growing seasons, as well as responding to calls for help with scouting for weeds, pest, fertility or disease issues that come with changes in the weather. Brenna says that planting season is a continual learning process that helps her and the growers in the area learn what to do differently in the next growing season.
One of the people who regularly calls Brenna for scouting is Robin Mason of Crotts Family Farm in Davie County, NC.
“Brenna does our soil sampling, field scouting, and gives us advice on fertilizers and inputs to use on our land. She’s always proactive and gets an answer for us. She takes the time to really look around the field and make sure everything looks OK, we can tell that she truly cares and wants to help us succeed,” says Robin.
Outside of planting season, Brenna’s days are filled with helping growers build their “Plan A” to launch their next growing season. This includes helping them budget, finding financing solutions that fit their input needs, developing herbicide and pesticide plans to protect yield, and creating fertility plans from results of soil sampling to maximize profitability. She also helps growers find the right crop hybrids and varieties for their operations by looking at local side-by-side results.
A customer who enjoys creating his plans with Brenna and trying new solutions to take his operations to the next level is Brandon Pardue of Pardue Farm & Sons in Wilkes County, NC.
“Brenna is one of the best crop advisors we’ve worked with in a long time. She comes from a family farm and understands the ins and outs of agriculture from both sides of the desk,” says Brandon. “Brenna takes every aspect of your business and treats every farm uniquely – we talk about ideas often and she’s not afraid to help us try new things so we can have the best results.”
Agriculture all the time
When Brenna’s not at work, she’s still actively involved in the agriculture community. She is currently serving as the Vice-Chair on the North Carolina Certified Crop Advisors Board and also helps out on her husband’s family farm.
“I talk farming at work and when I get home, it’s something I don’t ever get away from and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have a 6-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter, and while we want them to choose whatever occupation they desire, we also want to make sure that we present them with farming as a viable occupation and a rewarding lifestyle,” says Brenna. “I take the same approach with the growers I serve. If I can help make their operations a profitable business, their sons and daughters may decide that it’s a great way to feed and raise their families too.”