TINTAH, Minn. – With the 2019 planting season wrapping up, people might think anxiety and exhaustion are lessened for farm families.
That might not be the case.
Certainly the sunshine helps people’s moods, but the whiplash from the short planting window and poor prices has left many people vulnerable to mental fatigue and illness.
Rodd and Jamie Beyer encourage the ag community to keep checking up on others.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty and frustration and stress, so just kind of checking in on people I think is what we’d like everyone to do, and see if they need any help,” said Jamie on June 10.
To help in her own way, Jamie gave a listening ear and direction to farmers through her position with the local watershed. She had many phone calls from landowners and renters who had buffer planting problems.
“It’s just this compressed spring has really made an unorganized mess of everything,” she said.
Watershed districts and counties are responsible for enforcing the Minnesota buffer law – but some farmers didn’t get them planted last fall due to wet conditions. The same thing has happened this spring, and some people accidentally planted where there are supposed to be buffers.
“They call to see how much trouble they’re in, which is not very much because we’re all in the same boat,” she said. “We’re trying to get them to think about getting it seeded this fall because then it’s done.”
Cost share dollars may be available to farmers in Wilkin County to get these projects done, she added.
For Rodd and the Beyer crew, working with neighbors is their way of helping themselves and others.
The Beyers own a 66-foot rotary hoe they rented out after rotary hoeing their own corn acres. Rodd figures the hoe was used on about 5,000 acres this year.
What happened was the corn started leafing out under a soil crust. In the low, wet spots, the corn seed was slow to germinate and sprout. The soil crust didn’t help matters.
“We went out and rotary hoed everything and now everything looks great,” he said. “There’s a couple of areas that still don’t look very good, but overall I’m really pleased with our stands.”
They helped a neighbor with planting, too, who didn’t have a lot of tile. The untiled fields have served as cold sinks holding moisture.
Then, a sugarbeet agronomist helped out the Beyers. Rodd had mistakenly planted sugarbeets on five acres more than his shares. The agronomist figured out that a neighbor was short five acres of sugarbeets, so the two farmers completed paperwork to help each other out.
Other work at the farm included spot spraying along edges of fields to control thistles and cocklebur. Jobs included picking more rocks and mowing lawns.
Preparations were in place to spray both corn and early-planted soybeans fields between June 17-22.
The local dairy also took the first cutting of alfalfa from the Beyers’ fields. They said there were no insect concerns so Rodd didn’t have to spray – but they did rut up about 50 acres of alfalfa in a field that was too wet.
The Beyers had the option to forgo their payment and take the alfalfa to sell, but Rodd doesn’t know that much about putting up alfalfa. They decided to have the dairy take it. Fortunately, the alfalfa yielded well, and within a week it had already grown about a foot.
Rodd also bought some gopher traps for the girls, Aspen, 13, Paige, 11, and Josie, 10. The county pays $5 per tail, and the Beyers were interested in teaching the girls about “pest control.”
“When I was a teenager, we got $2 a piece, and probably I would burn up $50 in gas for the three-wheeler driving around trapping them, but that’s what I did every day,” said Rodd.