Where has the summer gone? Needless to say, it appears to us that we missed spring and dove right into summer and soon to be fall?! That also explains why this newsletter is combined! The weather has been interesting to say the least. Spring was very challenging with continued rain and cool temperatures. It seemed we were allowed two days a week to get the crop planted and begin spraying. This created havoc for being timely and organized. Our best laid plans were changed several times to adjust to the short planting window and time allowed to complete field work. Planting became stressful as we watched the calendar slip away and field conditions that seemed nearly impossible to allow us to work. Regardless, we did complete planting on all our acres by June 13th. With continued moisture through most of June, the crop emerged but was stressed from “wet feet”. Thankfully, July brought us warmer, sunshine filled days to turn this crop around and attempt to catch up on lost time. We adjusted our maturities of corn and soybeans, switching to earlier maturing varieties to offset the later planting dates. Hopefully, this helps us to get the crop to maturity before any frost shows up. That would certainly be devastating because we need as much sun and heat as possible to get us to the finish line! After two years in a row of this, we wonder what it would be like to have “normal” weather again. Well tiled farms were very noticeable again, and they always provide the best conditions to work with and the crops show it now. We will continue to find solutions for other “problem areas” and hope Mother Nature allows for a late fall so we can use our tile plow to help make improvements.
Our crop potential is all over the board. Each of the crops….corn, soybeans, or beets have fields that range from excellent to very poor. Thankfully, the largest percentage are looking pretty good. With all the rain, we felt we needed to supplement some lost nitrogen on some fields and were able to “side dress” some additional nitrogen between the rows. This fertilizer moves down thru the soil to the root zone and is taken up by the plants. The results can usually be visually seen in 7-10 days. Nitrogen is very mobile which causes problems with excessive rainfall as we either lose it through the tile systems as the water drains off or from leaching into the atmosphere as the plants aren’t growing to use it. This is also why we are firm believers in “spoon feeding” the crop in several trips rather than putting on a large amount of fertilizer in the fall and hoping we don’t lose it throughout the next growing season. We only apply phosphorus and potassium in the fall as we strip till, and all our nitrogen is applied in 2-3 separate passes in the spring. At this time of the year, the weeds are hopefully under control and we are spraying fungicides on mostly sugarbeets but also some soybeans. Sugarbeets get a leaf disease called Cercospera Leaf Spot (CLS) that destroys the leaves and harshly impacts sugar content and tonnage. We spray a variety of fungicides to prevent this disease every 10-14 days depending on weather. Last year was a disaster for CLS control, whereas, this year we are keeping it under control. We will spray at least 6 times for this disease.
Although the potential of our crops has improved, prices have not. Trump’s tariff talks continue but we are not seeing results. We still believe this was the right thing to do, but we never expected this to take so long. I’m not a political fan but happy to see this administration seems to feel the suffering in agriculture right now and have used some disaster funds to make payments available to farmers for the market we have lost. We would much rather have a profitable market to work with then get checks in the mail! The weather patterns have caused record number of acres to not get planted across a large share of the United States. The USDA publishes monthly reports but have yet to recognize the planted acreage problems in the country. Not a big surprise as we are talking about the government! We remain hopeful for better prices to offset lower yields. Another frustrating twist to these markets is how weather impacts grain movement. Most of our soybeans were sold to Cargill in Savage. Due to the excess rains, the river was too high to allow barge traffic to get this far north so we weren’t allowed to deliver on contracts because they filled up very fast. Our beans were set to deliver in June and we are just finishing deliveries now in August! We will be thankful to have the bins empty in preparation for another harvest.
Harvest will be here before we know it so we will be working on equipment soon. All trucks and trailers get inspected and repairs made. As you might expect, they are vital for harvest. We have upgraded to an 18 row corn head so we will use four semis to keep grain away from the combine. Our farm expansion came with another bin site so we feel fortunate that we can store 100% of our crop and not be subject to lines at the elevators. We will be renting 3 additional semis to haul sugarbeets along with a few hired trucks and drivers to total 5 semis for that crop. Finding drivers is always a chore, but, with some advice from a friend and some magic, we will be hiring several folks from out of state to work with us this fall. These people travel the country in their RVs and find temporary work to provide some income and a new experience. They are mostly retired and have a variety of backgrounds. We are excited to try this and hope they will enjoy it and come again in 2020.
Our families keep us busy when not on the farm. Jason and his son have been involved in fishing leagues that have taken them to a variety of lakes. It appears they have really enjoyed this and share some great stories. Chris has been chasing his daughter around as she will be one in October and is getting very mobile crawling. It’s been fun to watch her grow up this past year. Our kids keep us moving all the time… Ethan and Vanessa moved to Bemidji in June to start their new jobs. They are enjoying their responsibilities and getting paychecks! They are settling into the area and getting to enjoy some outdoor activities. McKaia is loving Minnetonka and the Cities in general. We have realized we now have a “free” place to crash when we are in that area! She already knows her way around that area far better than myself, which is great. Our other girls have been working at the local pool as lifeguards, playing in volleyball and basketball tournaments, dance practices, and spending time with friends. When Sandy isn’t chasing after them, we all try to get together at our cabin on Big Kandiyohi near Willmar on weekends. It’s great to be able to just relax after a fast pace during the week and enjoy our time together. If you are ever in the area on weekends, come find us for a visit!
All of you together make up our Ryberg Farms family. This is an honor and a gift to us. Because of this relationship, I have a request… some of our families are experiencing difficult times… I’d ask for your prayers for Dwight and Nancy for continued healing and Luella, Ron, and Diane for the loss of Melvin. Melvin passed away a couple weeks ago. Their family was gracious enough to rent their farms to us in 1995 when they retired and we have had the privilege to care for the land since. I will miss my long talks with him. Please keep them all in your prayers with us!
As always, call, text, email, or stop by anytime! We love to catch up with each of you and talk about what we are doing on the farm. Jump in with any of us this fall to follow the action. We are hopeful for nice weather! Take care!