Hannah Brandt

Hannah Brandt drove the tractor and hay rack piled high with oat straw bales. Photo by Danny Brandt.

ADA, Minn. – There was a coolness in the air, and nature interspersed hints of fall yellow among the summer greenery. It was time to begin 2020 oat and wheat harvest.

At Brandt Farms, small grain harvest is always an exciting time. Danny and Rachel Brandt had their children, Hannah, Evan, and Gus, involved in the operation, along with the rest of the Brandt Farms crew.

The 2020 harvest season started the last week of July with the oats harvested for grain and the straw baled for bedding, said Danny Brandt. About 1,000 small square oat strawbales were made in early August. The straw quality was bright, put up perfectly, and stored in the hayloft.

Danny uses the oat straw in the non-pit hog barn operations. Oat straw is coarser than wheat straw and holds up well to the pigs rustling around in it.

A small amount of the oats are used in the hog rations, but generally the oats are sold at a nearby grain elevator.

Spring wheat harvest quickly followed. Grain quality and falling numbers were excellent, with a nice, dark color to the kernels. Yield, quality and moisture ranged from satisfactory to good.

“We’re on our fourth field of wheat,” Danny said on Aug. 4. “So far ground conditions are pretty good. We can go anywhere we want with the trucks and the carts and the combines, so we’re pretty fortunate that way.”

Rain was forecast for that evening, so the Brandt crew took home the farm equipment and put it in the shed. They try to cover the equipment if there is a chance of rain in order to keep the equipment looking its best. Danny keeps in mind that hopefully someone else will own each piece of equipment one day.

Case in point, Danny’s dad, Glen, just purchased a second-hand draper head for wheat harvest. It was well kept, working great, and allowing Glen to speed up harvest by more than an acre per hour. He noted he was only running about 70-75 percent horsepower consumption on the combine with the draper header.

“Farmers who run draper headers know what they are all about,” he said. “It makes things go better.”

Small grain prices need to improve. Danny wanted to sell wheat at $5.25 per bushel, but the bid fell just short, so he is binning the wheat for now. There are three or four farm families/landlords that allow him to store crops in their bins.

Danny said the sugarbeets, corn and soybeans look good, but would benefit from rain. The soybeans are tall this year with lots of potential for yield if there is rain.

“I’ve sprayed fungicides and insecticides on our beans, and they are just about as tall as the front tires of the tractor,” he said. “It looks like they are podded from top to bottom – there’s potential for a pretty good crop, I cautiously think.”

Crops on hills and knolls were showing signs of wilting and needing rain.

Danny called a crop consultant to get an accurate 2020 Growing Degree Unit (GDU) comparison. As of Aug. 4, 2020, Brandt Farms was at 1,515 GDUs; compared with 1,351 GDUs for Aug. 4, 2019. The farm averages 1,429 GDUs by Aug. 4.

“Everything is cooking,” Danny said. He checked the corn that was in the early milk stage (early R3) and filling out nicely. “We have some hope of getting all of our combining done this fall. Then we can get our tillage done.”

For more photos and information about Brandt Farms, visit Danny Brandt’s Facebook page.