Brandt Farms

Brandt Farms’ second planted cornfield on June 4.

ADA, Minn. — At a time when Danny Brandt was preparing to spray dicamba for weed control, the news let him know he couldn’t.

On June 3, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled that growers couldn’t apply three dicamba products as of June 3.

For almost six days, from June 3-8, growers in Minnesota were told they wouldn’t be allowed to use XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, Engenia Herbicide or DuPont FeXapan with VaporGrip Technology. Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology was not part of the two-year federal registration and was still available for use according to the label.

In the meantime, the Brandts’ dicamba product was sitting in town ready to pick up.

“I’m certified to do all of my dicamba spraying, and all of my soybeans are dicamba,” Danny said on June 8. “That’s just like almost everybody in our area. This is a real low blow to the nation’s farmers.”

Like many farmers, Danny called anybody in a leadership position he could think of to help make dicamba available for 2020. The surrounding states were allowing growers to use dicamba.

Word came on Monday afternoon, June 8, that Minnesota growers could use the dicamba products, too.

“I will probably start spraying dicamba next week,” he said, adding that he felt he could get the spraying done within 10 days, as long as the weather cooperated.

At least for the 2020 spraying season, it appeared that an unsuspected ruling by a three-judge-panel was not going to create significant economic loss to U.S. soybean production.

Farmers know there are a number of risks they take each year. They never know what prices or the weather will do, and they guard against some of that risk through forward pricing, contracts, insurance, etc. To have an unknown situation brought up during a very narrow application window was similar to outlawing planters in the spring or combines in the fall.

Fortunately, leaders worked together to get dicamba available for 2020.

The first week of June was excellent for getting fieldwork done. The Brandts finished planting and began working on herbicide applications. Early-seeded wheat, corn and sugarbeet fields were sprayed.

The later planted seed needed a drink of water for germination.

Conditions had turned hot, dry and windy, and topsoil blew from knolls — even on fields with good residue or living cover.

Then a storm developed on the night of June 7-8. Winds reached 50-60 miles per hour, knocking down large limbs from Ada’s old cottonwood trees that measure 6-8 feet in diameter. A half-inch rain was measured earlier in the evening, but along with the strong winds, another 1.5 inches of rain fell in 45 minutes.

“I woke up at 12:30 a.m. because the power was out,” Danny said. “I looked out and I couldn’t see the cottonwood trees in the front yard. They’re only about 50 feet from the house, but I couldn’t see them it was raining so hard.”

Chainsaws, tractors, trucks and trailers would be needed the next days to clean up all of the branches and trees.

Danny added that earlier on June 7, there was some hail.

“I took the tractor and tiller over to my place to get the sweet corn patch ready, and by the time I got back to the farm, there were giant raindrops coming and I parked the tractor in the shed. I could hear hailstones for a couple of minutes,” he said. “It wasn’t horrible, but it knocked a couple of trifoliate leaves off the emerging beans.”

One field had remained too wet to plant. The Brandts had finally gotten through it with tillage equipment, but with 2 inches of rain, they decided to take prevented planting on the cornfield.

“The weather came and the decision was made for us,” Danny said. Both good and bad, the rain would also help the late-seeded soybeans and sugarbeets germinate.

If all goes well in Norman County, the Brandts intended to start side-dressing corn and complete their soybean herbicide applications.

“The coulee that runs west of the main farm here — that is flowing right now,” he said. “Some of the ditches are flowing again, but that’s what we expect after that kind of rain. There’s a lot of subsoil moisture, too.”