LAKE BENTON, Minn. – Early soybeans (0.7 maturity) planted in late April were ready to harvest at Worth Farms on Sept. 14. Bob and Jon Worth had their equipment all set to go.
The early harvest was all right with the father-son team.
“Farming on the Buffalo Ridge is always a little different from other places,” Bob said. “We have to go with an early maturity on everything. Thirty miles east or west, they can go with much later maturities on the soybeans, corn and get by with it, but we just can’t because we farm right on the ridge.”
Sometimes called the “Minnesota Mountains,” the Buffalo Ridge stands at 1,995 feet compared to an elevation of 1,391 feet at Tracy, Minn., which is located just 34 miles east of Lake Benton.
Some frost arrived on Sept. 8-9. It was too early to tell if the frost had hurt soybean yields or corn test weight.
“About 90 percent of our beans were past frost damage. The leaves had either dropped or were all yellow,” Bob said. “Most of our corn is black-layered, so it is pretty much safe.”
The big surprise for everyone was the rally in soybeans – prices moved more than $1.30 per bushel higher over 30-45 days. A combination of the derecho in Iowa, dry conditions, and additional export demand from China fueled the rally.
“We sold corn and soybeans this morning using 2021 hedge-to-arrive contracts,” he said. “We had sold some grain for considerably less than it is today, but I never thought we would see this big of a rally – in soybeans, especially.”
Bob said the cash price for soybeans over $9 per bushel was profitable for their operation.
Using hedge-to-arrive contracts and locking in their basis at levels that are acceptable to Worth Farms has worked well for them. Jon appreciates the opportunity to lock in prices and will work up to three years in advance – the time length of their land rental agreements.
Jon and Bob also locked in their 2021 diesel fuel needs earlier this summer, for the first time ever. Bob’s dad used to always say, “You won’t go broke taking a profit,” and that’s what they strive to do. Locked in rental rates plus crop insurance greatly reduce the risk, although the Worths do “gamble” with their seed and fertilizer purchases.
While every farm has their own marketing styles, Bob and Jon have found their method minimizes their stress, and Bob and Gail can enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and other fun activities and causes.
A nice event happened on Saturday, Sept. 12. Thom Peterson, Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture texted Bob to see if he could stop by for a visit. Bob and Gail happened to be home, so they invited Commissioner Peterson over.
Gail made a wonderful lunch for the three of them, and they enjoyed good conversation around their table. Then Bob took the Peterson for a tour of the city of Lake Benton, as well as the Worth farmland.
The tour included a trip up the well-kept wind turbine field roads to see the turbines. Peterson was impressed at the small footprint needed by each enormous wind turbine.
He was also surprised by the flowers and pollinators located all along the country roads. The dry spring was good for all sorts of wildlife, and the countryside has flourished throughout 2020, despite some dryness in August.
“Peterson is a very hard-working, common sense Commissioner of Agriculture,” Bob said. “He works with both parties to the betterment of agriculture. That is what we need.”