DAGMAR, Mont. – The word “home” hits a little differently when it is the place your family laid down roots nearly 100 years ago. Dryland farmer Tanner Jorgensen is the fourth generation of his family to farm the prairies of northeastern Montana, and he couldn’t be more proud of his legacy.
What really is bringing a smile to Tanner’s face at the moment is the fact that Mother Nature has brought moisture. As June gave way to July, timely rains have breathed life back into the landscape and cropland that surrounds his farm.
“Things are green,” Tanner said enthusiastically during a phone update on July 3.
Continuing, he was pleased to report that all of his crops are looking good. Even his late-seeded durum is coming right along.
While the crops are thriving under the current growing conditions, is seems the grasshoppers are, as well. For that reason, Tanner and his family have been monitoring their crops pretty closely with particular attention being paid to the canola simply due to the fact input costs on the crop have been steep this year.
“We’ve just got quite a bit of money invested into the canola this year with fertilizer and seed costs where they are,” Tanner stated.
Last fall, canola prices really took off – driven largely by demand for biofuel production. With prices hovering around $20 per bushel, canola seemed like a slam dunk crop last fall, but prices have been trending down the last couple of weeks. Taking a gamble with prices is just the name of the game when it comes to farming.
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Tanner has been keeping a close eye on the markets, so he has a good idea on when to the pull the trigger and sell his canola crop when the time comes.
In addition to monitoring crops for grasshopper pressure, Tanner stayed busy the last couple weeks of June doing in-crop spraying. Unfortunately, fertilizer isn’t the only input that is exponentially more expensive this year.
“Every time I go into the co-op to get more chemical, it just hurts,” he lamented.
Tanner says he really hasn’t had any issues getting all the herbicide he needs. On the other hand, fungicide this year has been a little bit tricky to come by.
“Fungicide this year has been extremely hard to come by, really just due to logistics. Because of the wet spring, all of a sudden everyone just decided to spray it and our co-op just sort of ran out of product,” Tanner said.
Thankfully the first pass of in-crop spraying was wrapped up by the end of June, so Tanner was able to enjoy a few days off before it was time to hit the “wedding trail,” as he calls it.
Looking at his calendar for the rest of the summer, Tanner is going to have plenty of opportunities to put his dancing shoes on. If he isn’t off to celebrate at a wedding, Tanner says he will be pretty consumed hauling grain for the next few weeks.
Life is all about balance, and hard work deserves to be countered by a little bit of fun. However, Tanner is lucky. He loves what he does for a living, so he never has had to work a day in his life.