On March 30, Dennis and I had the privilege of touring the Beck’s headquarters in Atlanta, IN (just north of Indianapolis). Beck’s has not had a presence in Minnesota before 2018.
Last fall we go our first Practical Farm Research book from them in the mail. I was quite impressed with the effort they put into helping farmers make decisions that affect their bottom line. A couple of Beck’s billboards also appeared on the south edge of Redwood Falls. I didn’t know much more than this for a couple of months. I get to know Jacob Tintes, one of the people on the ground in MN working hard to set up a dealer network. In visiting with him, I was informed that there could be an opportunity to tour the headquarters and through some questions at one of the top guys there. When Jacob called me to offer the opportunity to get on a jet in New Ulm and take a day trip to Indiana, Dennis and I jumped at the opportunity.
The trip left quite an impression. I have never had such an in depth education on a seed company as I had on that day. My confidence in them has been boosted to a very high level. Since we have our seed purchased made for 2018, we will not be doing any large scale planting of Beck’s hybrids but we will definitely be looking at them in our test plot this spring.
On a side note, we had a crazy realization coming home. We were flying above the snow line from the last winter storm. The south side of the plane had snow and the north side was basically snow free.
Soybean harvest weather started out so well. But then the BIG rain hit. Waiting for the soils to dry out allowed us to do some, much needed, tree trimming that we had been trying to get at all summer. For the most part, the soils handled the rain event well. Fields dried out and firmed up in about 10 days. We didn’t have to go around any standing water or mud. The money spent on drainage tile pays off in many ways.
A neighboring field after 5″ + of rain.
Neighboring field with ducks at sunset.
Burning tree branches after a couple days of trimming.
Our grain handling system is a key piece in the harvest process. It needs to run efficiently, with as few break downs as possible, to get through corn harvest in a timely manner. Even a small thing can bring harvest to a halt. Every seven years we change the bearings in all the electric motors of our grain system that put high hours on annually. 2017 was the year to do this again. We take all the the smaller motors off but leave the larger ones in place and remove the internal rotor that the bearings are mounted on. The largest motor, a 20hp 3ph motor on the top our our 120′ grain leg, is always a challenge. This year, we were able to do all the work on top of the grain leg thanks to a powerful 20V DeWalt impact wrench that helped remove the bearings from the shaft.
We also need to test fire the grain dryer to make sure that the flame control system is working properly. One of the burners wouldn’t fire. Upon investigation, a wire wast found to be chewed in half by some critter.
Our seed beans are handled in a gentle manner. This means using a belt conveyor to load them from the truck to the bins. We also unload the combine tank at half throttle to limit damage to the seed from the augers.
In early August we hired some kids to help walk a soybean seed field. We had to get rid of the volunteer corn and some weed escapes. It was a long day that ended with a trip to Dairy Queen as an added bonus.
Following last summer’s devastating hail event on our Morgan field we were advised to plant Liberty Link soybeans this year to give us later season options for weed control. Driving by the field one week prior to planting made our stomachs turn. The weeds had grown very quickly this spring and were threatening to make planting difficult. We sprayed a burn down herbicide on the field and, after working it with our vertical till machine a week later, the planting went quite smooth.
Spraying Liberty Link Soybeans
A pre-emerge herbicide was applied after planting and again about a month later. Two weeks after that, we had a lot of grass laughing at us as it continued to emerge and flourish. An application of Liberty was applied and now we are preparing to cultivate the field on Monday, July 17. A lot of extra effort and money has been spent on this field due to last June’s hail. We expect our efforts to pay off by keeping the weeds from seeding. This should make the future years of weed control a little more normal.
Sunday, October 2 was a day to remember but not in a positive way. We had just started filling our second truck with soybeans when disaster struck. I had unloaded the combine onto the grain cart while heading back to the road. Once I got to the road, I decided to dump off the few bushels I had left in the combine since the auger was passing right over the truck as I turned around. Once unloaded, I headed back into the soybean field. I didn’t get more than 50 feet down the field when the monitor on my armrest had a big red warning about low hydraulic pressure. Thinking I was spewing oil all over the place I shut down the combine and stepped out the door to investigate. As I looked back at the engine compartment from the top platform of the ladder, I saw a large ball of flames in the hydraulic pump area. I turned on the radio and told Dennis, who was in the grain cart, to call 911 immediately. He came over, as I was emptying the cab of important items such as my monitor with all the data on it, and emptied the fire extinguisher on the fire to no avail. We did what we could to secure items from the cab and stood back watching the flames grow as we waited for the fire trucks to arrive. Needless to say, the combine was a total loss but the fire department did manage to save the bean head.
We were able to rent a combine the next day and use that until we made a purchase. We used some down time during rainy days to research and look at combines in the area and settled on a John Deere S660 from Worthington, MN.
Arriving early in the morning, to load soybeans harvested the day before into storage bins, we were greeted by our curious steers. This year we raised one variety for Pioneer that will be sold as seed to farmers in 2017. Seed beans are handled more carefully that other soybeans intended for the processing market. The combine is set to thresh the soybeans as gently as possible. We use a belt conveyor to fill the storage bins as well as fill the trucks that pick up the beans during the following winter. Growing beans for seed will provide a premium that compensates for the extra time incurred plus a good profit for the grower.