DOVER, Minn. – When it’s safe to do so, Ben Storm has his kids for company on the farm.

Natalie Storm helps and homeschools kids at the farm site, as her massage business is currently not open due to COVID-19. Ben takes one or two kids along in the tractor or the semi when he can. All four children, McKenzie, Milo, Erma and Waylon, had the opportunity to ride along with their dad during planting this year.

Erma, who will turn 3 in July, was “chaperoning” dad on May 12 – the day of Ben’s report. Erma rode with Ben for two straight days of hauling corn from Dover to CHS in Winona. At night, her little green and tan cowboy boots were set neatly next to Ben’s blue and black boots.

It was a nice to spend time away from the farm, to see new scenery – even for a preschooler.

The Storms contracted corn last summer for delivery in May, June and July. It could have been a risky decision based on the last two years of late and difficult plantings, but this year it worked out okay. Conditions remained dry throughout planting in 2020, and there was plenty of time to deliver corn.

Typically elevators associated with the Port Authority of Winona offer the best basis in the region. The Mississippi River transported about 50 percent of Minnesota’s ag exports in 2016, the most recent figures available.

The elevators in Winona were loading corn on barges for the trip south, Ben said.

Jacob Storm, Ben’s dad, was also hauling corn, but his loads were going to Elgin, about 35 miles west of Winona, and about 16 miles north of Dover.

“It doesn’t take long with two trucks to get the contracts filled up fast,” Ben said. “I’m hoping they will let me start hauling my June contracts somewhere in the next week or two.”

The Storms finished planting corn on May 5 and soybean planting on May 6. What a difference from a year ago! In 2019, they didn’t start planting until May 6.

Rainfall was on the light side and varied from 0 to 0.5-inch across the region on May 10.

“We definitely could use more moisture, it’s not going to hurt us,” he said. “Last year we were begging for it to stop raining, and now we’d like it to rain here and there.”

There was frost in the early morning of May 12. None of the Storms’ crops had emerged yet, so that was comforting with the late frost. On average, there is only a 10 percent chance of temperatures reaching 34 degrees by May 14 in southeast Minnesota, according to NOAA.

They expected to start spraying corn in late-May.

Ben, Natalie and the kids made a little trip in early-May to pick up an eight-row non-chopping corn header for their combine. They will be combining for a neighbor who has an eight-row planter, so the Storms found a header at a reasonable price.

“We can get into (working on) that if it’s raining and get the soybean planter cleaned up and put away,” he said. “The corn planter has to stay out a little longer, because I have to seed the last planting of sweet corn for my uncle – probably before the end of May.”

The Storms spend a great deal of time working with their children and the farm’s show pig operation. They put their best show pigs on a special formulation with the hope of showing pigs sometime this summer.

“If the county and the state fair doesn’t happen, we might have to go to AKSARBEN (Stock Show), the national 4-H show in Nebraska,” Ben said. The event is scheduled for Sept. 24-27, 2020.