Storm home farm, June 4, 2020

Corn on June 4 at the Storm home farm with Ben’s and Natalie’s bin site in the background.

DOVER, Minn. – It was 40 days from the time Ben Storm started planting until he finished – April 25-June 4, 2020. Most of the fields planted in June had rye that was chopped off for feed. One field didn’t have enough of a stand to cut, so corn was no-tilled directly into the standing rye.

Seven acres were planted on that final Thursday for his neighbor and friend, Jeff Pagel. Ben planted no-till corn into 7-10-inch standing rye. Per acre, he applied 30 gallons of 28 percent nitrogen and 3.5 gallons of 10-34-0 (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).

Ben had started planting Jeff’s field on June 2. Then it started to rain. Even though it delayed the last of the planting, the half-inch of rain was welcome.

“It was getting pretty dry,” he said.

Ben, Natalie, and their kids, McKenzie, Milo, Erma and Waylon, planned for a vacation in mid-June. The incentive was on to get as much work done as possible.

Ahead of vacation, Ben planned to get his soybeans sprayed with Warrant Ultra.

The Storms’ soybeans were no-tilled directly into standing cornstalks and had passed the first and second trifoliate. Ben observed the first giant ragweed seedlings, as well as pigweed plants, and there were other weeds popping up, too.

“This will be our last application on soybeans unless we spray fungicide,” Ben said. He sprayed fungicide on the soybeans when prices were $10-$12 per bushel. With soybean prices closer to $8 per bushel, he didn’t spray fungicide.

For corn, the early-planted strip-tilled crop was taking off. Cold temperatures early on led to a slower start, but the first week of June was warm and sunny. Weed control was excellent, and insects were not yet a concern.

“You can see where a 7-8-inch black strip is and in-between the corn rows it’s untouched,” he explained. “This particular farm is a little sandier, so the corn will get side-dressed with N probably in the next two weeks. On our lighter ground, we don’t put any N on with the planter. We side-dress to give a little longer window for the N.”

A few years ago, Ben and Natalie purchased Uncle Rudolph Storm’s grain bin site and tillable acres located just a mile down the road from their home.

They represent the third generation of Storms to farm on what is considered the home farm. Ben’s grandpa purchased it in 1955.

“This is the farm where my dad, Jake, grew up and all of my uncles and aunts,” he said.

Ben and Natalie built an 80,000-bushel dry corn storage bin at the home farm. Soybeans are stored back at their farm site.

Newly-harvested corn is unloaded and sent up a long auger to a 4,500-bushel wet corn hopper-bottom bin. Corn is dried, sent up the leg and stored in one of three smaller bins that hold 40,000-bushels combined. Grain is moved via a conveyor chain and paddle system to the large 80,000-bushel bin for long-term storage.

“Most of the corn that’s in the bins got sold last summer for delivery this summer,” Ben said. “That’s typically what we like to do. There is some that is unpriced still today. It is what it is.”

Back at Natalie and Ben’s home, garden work and lawn upkeep were priorities. Natalie and the kids spent four days earlier this spring cleaning up their massive windbreak of mature conifers and deciduous trees. Ahead of their vacation, Natalie had transplanted asparagus and strawberries to two new raised beds, made of 2- by 12-foot boards with footings that went a foot deep into the soil. Ben hauled in eight loads of fertile black soil for the raised beds.

Natalie also has a long row of rhubarb plants that she intended to split to expand her patch. After harvesting lots of rhubarb for her own needs, she put up a notice on Facebook Marketplace this spring. Within 12 hours, she had sold 40 pounds and was forced to take the notice down, so she knows there is a good market for more rhubarb next spring.

Show pigs are another project for the Storms. Show pigs that will go to the AKSARBEN Stock Show in Nebraska were given individual pens for feeding purposes and special care. The Storms have a Purebred Spot, Purebred Hereford, and lots of crossbreds. A group of gilts for breeding are housed in another hog barn, and there are also some pigs housed together for butchering this fall.

“We usually shoot for the 240-250-pound (finished) range, because I feel if they get much bigger than that, they lose some of their feet and legs,” Ben said. That’s the case for both showing and/or marketing.

Almost everyone involved in agriculture and farming is sorry to see the majority of Minnesota’s county fairs, as well as the Minnesota State Fair, postponed until 2021. Families are just trying to do the best they can in the face of COVID-19 rules and regulations for staying safe from the novel coronavirus.