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Soybean harvest expected to start in mid-September for Paul Freeman
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Soybean harvest expected to start in mid-September for Paul Freeman

STARBUCK, Minn. – The weather pattern changed in late August and rain finally arrived in Pope, Douglas, and Otter Tail counties.

Paul Freeman measured over 3 inches of rain on Aug. 20.

Then, rain started falling every few days, with some severe weather, too. Storms on Aug. 24 lodged about 250 acres of Paul’s corn in the Kensington area. More wind raced across the region on Aug. 28, which will make harvest more challenging.

Paul talked with his crop insurance agent in mid-August. He wanted to be sure they were communicating with each other about the drought/severe weather conditions of the 2021 crop year.

“He’s putting in claim forms for just about everybody that he works with,” Paul said. “The adjuster will be calling, and I’ll let them know when I have yield to measure. It would be nice if I didn’t have a claim, that’s the hope every year, but there is a reason we have crop insurance.”

Paul noted the soybeans started turning color on Aug. 25-26. Once they start turning, it’s usually three weeks until they are ready to harvest. That puts soybean harvest around Sept. 15.

He scouted the soybeans and counted about 19-20 pods per plant. “That’s roughly the yield per acre,” he said, a 19-20 bushel per acre crop – about 40 percent of normal.

With harvest approaching, he cleaned out all the bins and had them ready for grain storage. Next on the list was putting row fingers for guidance on the Geringhoff corn head. He will harvest the soybeans using GPS guidance.

Paul wanted to use the rest of his column to talk about his passion – the betterment of farming. Paul and Roberta believe in the American farmer and the importance of advocating for agriculture.

For the couple, that means sometimes sacrificing their time together so that Paul can work with a variety of farm groups.

The Freemans also invest their money in farm groups, like the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA). Paul is keen on helping farmers understand all the ways that the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSRPC) and MSGA improve quality of life and farming.

He’s frequently heard farmers incorrectly say, “I support MSGA through the checkoff.” But MSGA is actually supported through separate membership, $120 annually, or $250 for a three-year membership. It is dedicated to lobbying and advocating in favor of the soybean farmer.

Every soybean farmer who sells soybeans helps fund the checkoff and the work of MSR&PC. The MSR&PC is dedicated to research and promotion only. MSGA and MSR&PC are two different organizations both devoted to ensuring soybeans remain a viable and profitable commodity.

Recently, Paul was elected a director on the MSR&PC, but occasionally he takes off that cap and puts on his MSGA cap to lobby.

“I feel when I am talking to a legislator, that I’m speaking for all of the growers, but MSGA is only being funded by about 10 percent of them,” he said. “It sure would be nice to have more than 10 percent of growers invested as members in MSGA.”

Farmers sometimes ask him about Ag Management Solutions, LLC (AMS). This company is owned by MSR&PC and MSGA as an ag service organization that provides a wide range of services to ag groups. These services can include executive management, administrative services, accounting and compliance, technical experts, marketing communications or membership services.

Paul recently stepped down from his position as chairman of the board of AMS, with Jamie Beyer stepping up into this position. Jamie recently also was elected to the board of directors of the American Soybean Association.

Among the projects that AMS manages is the Ag Innovation Campus in Crookston, Minn. This multi-million-dollar campus is dedicated to developing and testing products made from crushing soybeans, as well as other oilseeds in northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota.

Companies will have the opportunity to scale up their product manufacturing at the Ag Innovation Campus with help from groups like the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), University of Minnesota, and the Northern Crops Institute.

Beyond the campus, there are also plans for a larger crush facility, Epitome Energy, of which Paul has shares in. Epitome Energy is currently conducting a funding drive.

“They have their air quality permit, so progress is being made,” he said.

Paul encourages everyone to visit the Ag Innovation Campus website (aginnovationcampus.org) to learn more about the construction of the specialty crushing facility. Dirt work began in mid-August, and construction is taking place.

The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority approved funding for a web camera that is documenting the construction process. Paul recommends visiting https://api.ibeamsystems.com/?session=QWdJbm5vdmF0aW9uQ2FtcHVzOkNyb29rc3Rvbk1O to watch its progress!

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