WHEATON, Minn. – With 4-8 inches of rain falling during the last week of June and first week of July, some western farmers were seeing soggy crops that might not make it to maturity.
Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President Jamie Beyer and husband, Rodd Beyer, encourage young farmers to take heart and not let the stress get to them.
“If they know they can get through a tough year, there are better years ahead,” said Jamie in a phone interview on July 10.
Asking an agronomist to look at the fields while taking even a one-day vacation can be very helpful to gain an outside perspective. Knowing that family and friends do care and will help where they can will help reduce stress too.
Jamie says, with information and guidance, farmers can sometimes make quick decisions that could greatly help the family and the farm and help the operation possibly make the year. Those decisions might include selling off old equipment, driving semi or working at a short-term employment opportunity, finding what programs are available, or working for another farmer. Saving $5,000 or making $5,000 a couple times over could make a big difference in 2019.
For Rodd, there’s generally something positive to focus on. His bright spot now is that in 2019, the Beyers are building a new grain bin so that’s made it impossible to get to some of the 2018 corn bins. That means he’s hopefully going to sell some corn for a higher price a little later.
The general rule is, “Never sell corn after July 1,” but this year, the basis has continued to shrink, Rodd said.
There is some good corn out in the fields too, he said, although there is a lot of variability.
“I have some really nice corn. I walked into corn that is over my head – the early planted stuff,” he said. “The later planted stuff is maybe waist to chest high and there is a lot of potential there. I’ve got very few problems.”
Excessive rain made for a difficult alfalfa harvest. The Beyers contract their alfalfa fields to the local dairy. There had been some rutting when the hay was custom harvested in late May, and that didn’t help the logistics of harvesting the June cutting. After the challenges in May, some of the waterways couldn’t drain properly. That resulted in more flooding and problems in June.
While some of the alfalfa was successfully harvested, some of the alfalfa couldn’t be saved.
“They just merged it, chopped it, and blew it up in the air to spread it around,” said Rodd. “We figured out an average yield on what they had already harvested and they paid me for the rest of the field.”
The alfalfa started growing back right away, but the waterways remained damaged in this wet year resulting in about 5 acres of loss.
“That will be with me for the next couple of years,” Rodd said. “If it was my own, we would have done things a little different on that first cutting and not rutted it up, but custom cutters need to go no matter what. It’s disappointing but it’s part of dealing with a big dairy. Part of it too is it is such a wet year.”
The Beyer crew finished spraying the soybeans, and there were no problems. They used the new Enlist chemical (2,4-D) to spray at the end of June. They also sprayed some glyphosate right before the Fourth of July.
“The soybeans are not growing fast enough,” he said. “The good beans are struggling to close the rows. The later planted soybeans haven’t grown much and they are turning yellow.
“I think that’s where our disaster is going to be. The soybeans have a lot of growing to do.”
As MSGA president, Jamie was focused on a couple of issues. With low soybean prices coupled and expected poor 2019 production, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council was beginning to look at program cuts. The MSRPC is funded through half a percent on the sale of each bushel of soybeans – so $8 beans equal 4 cents to the checkoff.
The MSGA is funded by membership dues, not checkoff funds.
“The MSRPC cuts still impact our side of the soybean world,” she said. “It’s hard to see programs cut, scaled back and staff let go. That’s really hard, but we are just anticipating there are going to be fewer beans sold this year.”
As a watershed employee, Jamie took part in a bus tour that included state agency and watershed employees primarily from the Twin Cities metro area. It is often a challenge to help people understand that water flows north in the Red River Valley. Jamie was surprised to find many participants also didn’t realize that salt occurs naturally in some soils. A stop at the Nordick Discovery Farm in Wilkin County was eye opening for them.
The bus tour south of Fargo included stops at a couple of ditch projects and stream restoration projects to help with flooding.
“It was so interesting to see people learn about tile,” said Jamie. “These folks don’t know much about tile because some areas don’t have a need for it.”
A brief presentation was given on using saturated buffers for tile outlets. Farmers on the bus helped explain that saturated buffers for tile outlets would work only in a few cases.
“It was really helpful to impress upon people that the land is not as simple as it looks,” Jamie said. “One solution can’t and doesn’t work everywhere.”