Travers County Soybeans

In Traverse County, soybeans turned color and began losing leaves in mid-September, 2019. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

WHEATON, Minn. – Too much rain fell just ahead of Big Iron. Along U.S. Highway 75 between Ortonville and Breckenridge, Minn., ditches ran full of water and fields were saturated.

“We got over 5 inches of rain since we talked last,” said Rodd Beyer, giving his report on Sept. 17. “We had another 0.8-0.9-inch last night.”

A very wet fall seems to be an every-other-year event, he added. Farmers have invested in track combines, 4WD tractors, tiling and more.

A neighbor was growing corn for silage for the large neighborhood dairy. With the wet field conditions, the dairy’s custom harvest crew used 50-ton silage wagons pulled through the field with 4WD Case IH Steiger Quadtracs.

“Some areas were so wet last fall, and then we had the flooding this spring, and we haven’t dried out this summer,” said Jamie Beyer, who works for the Bois de Sioux Watershed District. “All of the wetlands, the sloughs, the ditches are full again. We have road closures on 19 different roads in Traverse County. It’s flooding out there.

“If we get a winter where we have heavy snow, we’re really going to have a mess next spring,” she warned. “We all need to be thinking about how we’re going to handle spring floods.”

There was some good weather news – it didn’t freeze during a cold stretch for the first half of September. Then beginning on Sept. 15, temperatures turned downright hot – in the 80s – and humid. Wind whipped between the thinning crops.

With the shorter daylength, the soybeans and some of the other crops began to turn yellow, and soybeans to the north lost leaves.

“I think yesterday, if you were to stare at a soybean field, you could watch them turn with the heat and the wind,” said Rodd. “They matured a lot in a day. People are finally starting to see the end, where a couple more days of heat there will possibly be a few people harvesting soybeans early next week (Sept. 23-27).”

Rodd has some significant concerns with the 2019 crops.

Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative will have a very nice sugarbeet crop overall, but Traverse County was hard hit with Cercospora leafspot despite many fungicide treatments.

He thinks the preventative fungicides might have washed off the leaves, and some sugarbeet fields look “black” from the road, with new sugarbeet leaves just emerging. It’s understandable, but disappointing, he said.

“Some people are on their seventh spray, which they are probably not happy about putting that much money into this crop,” he said. “We know it’s not going to be worth a whole lot of money.”

There is also white mold in the soybeans. As the beans lose their leaves, it becomes less apparent.

“Some of the fields were almost all white mold except for the tire tracks, where the beans had been slowed down and didn’t canopy because of the tracks,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything that bad before. The good areas of the fields have white mold.”

In the farmyard and at the bin site, there were challenges too. The Beyers had gravel hauled in to level the driving surface. Construction of the new bin took longer than expected, rainy weather slowed things down, electrical lines were accidentally cut, and more.

Rodd used some of his Minnesota Agricultural and Rural Leadership (MARL) program skills to communicate and move ahead. He hoped the new bin would be functional by mid-October.

He also remembered to have some fun and enjoyment outside of farming by golfing at the beautiful nine-hole Wheaton Country Club. The grass was perfect, and he and his buddy were competing for the championship trophy.

There are no tee times at the Wheaton Country Club, and Rodd encourages anybody who wants some fun to look up the golf course online, get the details and visit the Wheaton, Minn., course.

Despite the challenges, the Beyers continue to love their farming life and what it provides to their three daughters, Aspen, Paige and Josie. There is always something to learn.

One of the Beyers’ friends who farms in South Dakota will be coming to stay with them during sugarbeet harvest, and Jamie was “deep cleaning” the house ahead of company.

“I’ve been washing bedding, washing the house, we’ve got to clean the fridge,” she said. “It’s all these things that you should do before you have company.”

Jamie found a surprise in the bathtub – one of the daughters had collected 48 chicken eggs and washed them in the bathtub the night before. There was cleaning coming. It was going to involve a lot of bleach, she said with an enduring laugh.

“My bathtub is covered in chicken poop. We’ve got to get it cleaned up before sugarbeet harvest,” she quipped.

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