Alan Peterson

Plantings of small grains and cover crops for A&L Peterson Farms in early October. Alan Peterson drives the tractor. Submitted photo.

CLEAR LAKE, Minn. – A&L Peterson Farms continued their 2019 harvesting/planting marathon.

It started back on June 25 when Ryan and his dad, Alan, green chopped oats and made big round bales. Bono hybrid rye combining began on Aug. 3. Kidney bean harvest started on Sept. 2 and finished on Sept. 25. Corn silage was made in September. High moisture corn harvest and seed corn harvest was also expected to start any day, said Ryan Peterson on Oct. 1.

The Petersons paced themselves knowing they still had a long way to go.

“The weather has been super wet lately, it’s just been crazy,” said Ryan. “We missed some big storms, but it seems to rain every other day. Nothing dries out.”

Normally, kidney bean harvest takes 7-10 days, but September rains dragged things out. Moisture levels of the kidney beans varied from 20-30 percent.

“We like to take the beans somewhat wet because there is less opportunity for damage. The fee is minimal for moisture under 20 percent, but it’s greater when it’s above that amount.”

The Petersons were satisfied with their kidney bean crop yield for 2019, but they saw a fair amount of shelled beans scattered on the soil. Hail back in July did more damage than they thought.

Seed corn harvest at the Petersons was expected to begin soon, said Ryan. The equipment was in the area, but with all of the rain, harvest was delayed.

The Petersons had some corn chopped for silage, using the same custom chopping operation as their neighbor used. It was gratifying to see 230 feet of bagged corn silage at the Peterson farm.

“We weren’t crazy about our tonnage,” Ryan said. “I think with our hail some of our corn shut down a little bit. I am not terribly thrilled with the variety that I chose, so I’m going to check and see if maybe next year we can do a little better.”

High-moisture corn harvest was set to begin at any time, Ryan added, and then it would be time for soybean harvest. Corn for grain harvest comes last.

“There are some soybeans in the area that look ready, but ours aren’t there yet,” he said.

When they weren’t working on the crops, the Petersons worked on building a cattle working chute and loading ramp.

Planting begins

After the kidney bean harvest, the Petersons planted Bono hybrid rye on Sept. 28. Ryan had another 100 acres he intended to plant to rye when the fields dried out.

He delivered the last of the 2019 rye crop under contract on Oct. 1, but the Petersons didn’t have a 2020 contract yet.

“The price is lower than last year, so we’re waiting to see if that will come up a little bit,” he said. “I am still leery where long-term rye production will go with supply and demand, but I think it is a good product.”

A lot of producers in Sherburne County have tried raising rye, he added. The Petersons recently decided to become dealers for Millborn Seeds of Brookings, S.D., so they can sell hybrid rye as well as many types of cover crops.

Cover crops were planted after the 2019 hybrid rye was harvested. More recently, the Petersons worked with the NRCS on a new cover crop program. This program focuses on inter-seeding cover crops into standing soybeans via airplane.

About 40 pounds per acre of oats and cover crops were spread on the 1.8-2.0 maturity soybeans.

“They ask that you spread when only 10 percent of the leaves have fallen,” he said. “That way there are not too many leaves covering the soil, so at least the seeds can get into the soil.”

Through another NRCS program, the Petersons had Kernza planted into the corners of fields that surround irrigator pivots. The Kernza germinated, but there wasn’t a lot of growth in 2019, Ryan said. He hopes it will grow well in 2020.

Finally, the Petersons purchased Wisconsin-based turkey manure that was piled on fields for spreading next spring.

“We try to be mindful of the neighbors a little bit, but then again, they live out in the country, so stuff happens,” said Ryan, with a little farming humor as he set out to complete another round of farming chores and tasks.

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