CLEAR LAKE, Minn. – The sun shone after a thick mat of clouds finally dissipated in late June. In the annual summer vacation trek, Minnesotans headed north to Bemidji, Brainerd and Duluth to relax in the cool Northwoods. Living close to I-94, folks in Sherburne County saw the steady vacationers’ caravan driving north.

Ryan and Whitney Peterson and their children decided to go in the opposite direction – and made plans to travel south to Nebraska to visit Whitney’s parents.

“Some farming things are done, so we can take off now,” said Ryan. “We’ll do a few fun things and pretty soon we’ll start irrigating.”

They also had a little trip planned for the north later on.

Fortunately, Sherburne County received about 1.5 inches of rain in late June. The moisture was making a beneficial difference, so irrigation wasn’t needed for the crops growing on sand.

The Petersons raise seed corn, field corn, soybean, kidney beans, rye and oats, plus they feed out cattle. On June 25, Ryan and his dad, Alan, intended to green chop oats and make big round bales. A neighbor was buying the feed for his bulls and cow/calf pairs.

The next crop set for harvest was the rye in late July.

“The hybrid rye is taller than we thought it might be, so we didn’t know if we were going to make straw bales,” he said. “I think we will. We’ll combine it and put windrows out and then bale the rest of it up for bedding for our cattle.”

Rye straw is a very nice product, Ryan said. It’s much easier on the baler than making corn stalk bales; consequently, the Petersons will make as much rye straw as they can.

Irrigation was expected to begin right after the Fourth of July. Even though some early irrigation is done for specific reasons, the Petersons have found they have their most successful farming years when irrigation starts in July.

Both the seed corn and the field corn had canopied by late June. Ryan expected all of the corn to stand waist-high by Independence Day. Side-dressing anhydrous ammonia on the corn went well.

While the corn was beginning to take off, the soybeans were slow to get started.

The soybeans needed heat.

“It feels like the soybeans are in limbo waiting for the sunshine to actually start getting any taller. We get some heat and sunshine, and they will just take off,” he said. “The weeds are starting to come a little bit again. We’re probably getting close to spraying them for a second time.”

Ryan’s agronomist was going to scout for waterhemp and make herbicide recommendations for the soybean fields.

The kidney bean fields were sprayed for weeds in mid-June.

“That’s the last pass for weed spray on those, otherwise they’ll get too big,” he said. “You have to apply that at the right time.”

The Petersons finished hauling their corn contracts to Bushmills Ethanol in Atwater, Minn., and they were waiting for the Mississippi River to open in the Twin Cities to deliver more corn. There were reports that barge traffic had started south, but more barges needed to come north. Additional barges were expected around July 1 for moving grain down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Petersons shipped another load of finished cattle to the packing plant in Green Bay, Wis.

In their spare time, the farm crew was building and fixing some cattle fences, and they also cleaned out a cattle barn. They planned to replace a dirt floor with a cement floor, so it lasts longer and is easier to deal with.

“We’re hoping this week to maybe get some cattle in,” Ryan said. “We’re kind of waiting.”

An assertive marketer, Ryan had put some offers in at the elevator for corn and soybeans, and he was able to make some sales at higher prices. They had about 60 percent of 2019 corn and 50 percent of 2019 soybeans contracted. For 2020, Ryan had contracted 10-15 percent of the expected corn crop.

With the weather finally starting to cooperate and most of the field operations completed, Ryan and Whitney had the opportunity to do what most Minnesotans do in the summer. In addition to their trip to Nebraska, they made plans to take a short trip to a Minnesota cabin just after the Fourth of July. Their baby is due in September, so the timing is perfect.