ELGIN, N.D. – Flying his UAV in the blue skies above his crop fields and pastures, Clarence Laub III can check for invaders, such as weeds or diseases, although the latter is rare in this arid region. He can also find a cow or calf that may wander from the group with his UAV, a useful technology with practical applications.
“I do have a nice UAV. I can fly it over the fields to take photos, and it can also take still photos that are as sharp as if they were taken by a 35 mm camera mounted on a stand,” he said.
He has taken entire videos of his farm, and may someday start a YouTube channel. However, between farming, haying, raising cows and calves, marketing crops, and airbrushing dynamic signs as a side business, Clarence doesn’t have a lot of free time.
This week, Clarence and his dad, Clarence, Jr., are gathering the equipment needed for haying, which starts soon.
“We’ve pulled out all the haying machines,” Clarence said, which includes the tractor pulling a Haybine mower/conditioner to cut the hay; a tractor pulling a rake to shape the hay into windrows; and two tractors each pulling a John Deere baler, which bale the hay into large, round bales.
Monitors in the tractors track how the bale is being formed.
The hay has grown tall and green with soaking rains in May, and most recently, from two rain events over the past two weeks, totaling about 1.5 inches.
“We’ve had some nice rains at the farm, and it’s been cooler with overcast skies and temperatures in the mid-60s to 70s,” he said.
The other crops have taken advantage of the nice rain, as well.
“The hemp for grain came up within 4-5 days after being planted,” Clarence said.
Because the CBD seed is so valuable and expensive, they planted the seeds literally by hand into small starter trays.
“We planted the CBD seeds into trays and placed the trays on a 36-foot gooseneck trailer,” he said. “We had 11,000 plants when we were finished.”
After initial development, the CBD plants will be transplanted out into the field.
“The CBD seed is so expensive. You are really buying it by the seed. If you planted them directly into the soil, you would have 50-70 percent germination. Now we will have 90 percent or more germination,” Clarence said.
The CBD seeds were coated with a special coating that had microbes that helped with germination and growth.
Clarence has been growing hemp since he was one of the first four farmers to grow it under the first North Dakota pilot program in 2016. There were few markets then, and Clarence supported his local community with selling his local hemp in southwestern/south central North Dakota. A certain amount of his hemp is processed elsewhere in the state, and then the Laubs package and label it and sell it as protein powder and hemp oil in local stores, including the hardware store in Elgin.
Meanwhile, the wheat, sunflowers, oat cover crop and corn are developing well in the fields.
The corn is 12-16 inches tall, and the Laubs plan to apply a second application of N to it soon.
“The recent heat helped with the corn getting some heat units, so we may add some N,” Clarence said. All their corn for grain goes to the ethanol plant in Richardton.
Clarence in-crop sprayed the corn, and with that, all the crops except sunflowers have been sprayed for weeds.
Meanwhile, Clarence III is about to become a first-time dad, and that will be the main event on the farm this summer.
Clarence III and Ashley are due to have their son in July and all the grandparents are anticipating the big event.
“We’re very excited about our new grandson,” said Clarence, Jr., and Sandra, Clarence’s parents.
Will they name him Clarence?
We’ll have to wait and see.