Natalie Storm

Natalie Storm plus McKenzie, Milo and Erma enjoyed vacation up north in mid-June 2020. Not pictured Benjamin and Waylon Storm.

DOVER, Minn. – For the past 15-plus years, the Storms have been camping as a group at the same lake/resort. They were able to go again this year in mid-June, despite COVID-19 concerns.

“We were up there with a lot of my family that we see almost every day,” said Ben Storm talking about their recent family vacation.

At the resort, families/groups each kept to their own cabins and activities. The Storms still had the opportunity to enjoy some of the best that Minnesota has to offer – green trees, blue skies and clear water.

“It was windy up there, so we didn’t spend a lot of time on the lake, unfortunately, but we still had fun,” he said. “We caught some fish, the kids spent a lot of time in the pool, so they had a good time. Everybody got a little sunburned.”

Jake and LuAnn Storm stayed home to take care of things on the farm. Ben wasn’t exactly sure when it had rained while he was gone, but there was 0.9-inch of rain in the gauge when he returned.

The rain was acceptable – especially because the co-op had side dressed urea on the corn in mid-June.

“It’s a little bit lighter ground, so we side dressed and spread the nitrogen out to hopefully keep it where the plant needs it,” he said.

It was by no means dry though.

The Storms have three hybrid test plots this year – one for Syngenta, another for DEKALB, and one for the Olmsted County Corn Growers. The hybrids were starting to show their differences in color, he said.

Ben has an interest in cover crop trials. Some winter wheat seed was applied along with the side dressed nitrogen on three 60-foot swaths across the cornfields.

“I am curious to see how that grows and also if it affects the corn yield at all,” he said.

The idea is the winter wheat will germinate now when the corn is shorter. As the corn grows, it should stay fairly small beneath the canopy, but when the corn is combined, the winter wheat should start growing up.

“That’s something new we’re trying,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Returning from vacation, Ben noted some weed escapes in soybean fields. He had applied Roundup and Warrant Ultra (acetochlor and fomesafen).

“There are a few weeds that look like they ‘kinda died’ and then they greened back up,” he said. “I’m going to have to go respray those areas.”

With the crops mostly in “autosteer” mode, Ben and his cousin, Kaleb Storm, worked on an apartment building they purchased last October. The building on Whitewater Avenue of St. Charles has four commercial spaces, five apartments and 1,300 square feet unused. They decided to add a 960-square-foot apartment to the building while still leaving some room for storage.

“New tenants move in July 1, so we have some finishing touches to put on that and we’re working on that this week,” Ben said.

St. Charles is experiencing growth in businesses and jobs, so that provides opportunities to rent apartments, too. Whitewater Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram recently opened a new dealership there, and a new truck stop is expected soon.

Back at the farm, Jake Storm continued to haul June contracts, with more corn and soybeans due to fill July contracts.

“There are always some corn and beans to haul around here,” Ben said. “Hopefully by the end of the week we’ll finish spraying the last 240 acres of soybeans that we didn’t get done before we went on vacation – if the wind and rain allows it. Then we have to figure out what we’re going to do to touch up those other farms that had some weeds that came back. Those will have to get sprayed with something else.”

In the barns, the pigs were growing and getting tamed for the showring. The kids took time to wash their show pigs, an activity that can help pigs get used to human touch and activity.

Winona County was trying to put together some type of livestock show, but the details were still not available. The Storms hoped to attend a couple of junior livestock shows in nearby counties. Those regional events will hopefully be allowed to occur in August.

“We’d like to give the kids a chance to show pigs this summer,” he said.

Ben also wanted to give a shout out to his wife, Natalie, and mother-in-law, Lori Feltis, who put up many jars of strawberry jam. Lori is a rug maker and attends many craft shows where customers are happy to buy jam as well as her beautiful rugs. There will be a steady increase in summertime produce for families to enjoy now and throughout the 2020-21 winter.