Ryan Peterson with hybrid rye seed

Ryan Peterson held the hybrid rye seed he planted following kidney bean harvest. 

CLEAR LAKE, Minn. – Ryan Peterson used a Case IH tractor to plant hybrid rye with a new-to-the Petersons’ 35-foot John Deere grain drill (late ’90s model). It might have been a surprise to anyone who knows the Petersons to see them running green equipment, but they’d been looking for a larger model and found this one for sale near Foley.

The equipment was working okay, but Ryan wondered if planting hybrid rye was the best use of his time. They have a neighbor with a 60-foot drill that can plant small grains very quickly and that would have allowed Ryan to continue on with harvest.

“We’ll see if we want to stick money into this drill – keep it, fix it, or trade it off,” Ryan said.

A big storm was forecast for Oct. 11-12 in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, and Minnesota farmers were wondering how this was going to affect their harvest.

On Tuesday, Oct. 8, strong wind gusts could easily carry away the Petersons’ sandy soil. Ryan wanted to get something growing on the farmland after the kidney beans were harvested – so he planted the hybrid rye as quickly as possible while still doing a good job.

It can be frustrating to have to slow harvest down in order to plant, but diversified crops and cropping methods have kept the Peterson’s farming operation successful.

That was shown to be true in 2019 after hail arrived on July 25. The Petersons had originally thought the hail had mostly hit the building site. As harvest continued, they discovered hail took the top end off of many crops.

With an average yield of about 2,500 pounds of kidney beans per acre over three fields, the hail adjuster figured there was about a 16 percent loss.

“I really wasn’t quite expecting that much (loss),” Ryan said. “When we were out here windrowing, there were beans on the ground even before I got to it. Some of the pods were twisted like Twizzlers licorice.”

The seed corn company said there was 20-25 percent hail damage on the seed corn.

Fortunately, oats and hybrid rye were harvested before the hailstorm. The Petersons also feed out about 260 head of Holstein steers, and the livestock had cover during the July 25 storm.

They run irrigators on their sandy soils near the Mississippi River, and that gives many options for crops to grow. In 2019, they grew hybrid rye, oats, kidney beans, seed corn, silage corn, high moisture corn, corn for grain and soybeans.

The Petersons were worried about hail damage to the corn – especially near the homestead. Ryan combined some corn on Oct. 7 to get an idea of what they could expect, as well as opening up the field.

“We had some strips out there and I combined to get it off, and it did 220-235 (105 day, 30 percent moisture, bushels per acre),” he said. “I can’t really complain too much about that.”

Ryan’s brother, Nick, hand shelled some corn on Oct. 8, and it was already down to 24-25 percent moisture.

“I was rather surprised to see it that dry, but it did black layer and now you can tell the stalks are turning hard,” he said. “A few nice days and I think it’s amazing how fast it will dry out for us.”

The sandy soil was a real benefit in this wet year. The Petersons received 2 inches of rain on Oct. 4 and they had no problem getting into the fields – as long as they avoided the wet spots.

“We’re disking some seed corn stubble, with wheel ruts and water, and we’re able to go right though that,” he said.

The Petersons intended to begin the arduous main corn harvest as soon as weather allowed and continue at it until things were done.

“Soybeans will come out eventually,” he said, as the work of farming continued.

Minnesota Farm Guide would like to thank Ryan, Whitney, Hunter, Weston, Bentley; Alan, Laurie; and Nick Peterson, as well as the other members of the Peterson family for allowing us to follow along with their operation during the 2019 growing season. We wish the Petersons great success in the future.

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