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Jerry Layton of Doran, Minn., works in lime into what was a wheat field south of Breckenridge, Minn., on Sept. 6, 2017. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

Campbell, Minn., bins good wheat

CAMPBELL, Minn. — While many farmers in the region have faced drought, farmers in the Wilkin County area in western Minnesota have gotten adequate moisture and have seen a bountiful small grains harvest. Now they're hoping for a favorable row crop finish.

Kevin Tobeck is the new plant manager at the Campbell, Minn., site for the Wheaton-Dumont Co-op Elevator, which has sites in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota. Campbell has 1.25 million bushels of capacity, handling mostly wheat while other facilities in the group take beans and corn.

"Wheat's pretty much done, just waiting on the beans and corn," Tobeck said on Sept. 6 as his crew unloaded the occasional semi-trailer. Farmers in that area averaged about 70 bushels per acre for wheat — higher than the 50 to 60 bushel range they'd expect, with high protein at about 14 percent or more.

"It was a very good year for wheat," Tobeck said. There was plenty of rain and sun at the right time, with relatively little storm or pest damage. "I hope they did sell a bunch already, because the price has been coming down."

The area's corn crop is going to be down some, but still should be a "good, average" crop. He expects it to be "quite wet," so those producers will welcome a timely freeze. Soybeans could be "phenomenal," but are behind schedule, with harvest not anticipated until the end of September. Frost wasn't predicted for another couple of weeks, so Tobeck was hoping farmers could make their 50- to 70-bushel-per-acre yield goals.

Sugar beet farmers are seeing too much of a good thing. Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative officials confirmed that shareholders have been informed they need to identify up to 15 percent of their planted acres to possibly be left unharvested in the field this year because yields are again ballooning to over 32 tons per acre — maybe more, says Tom Knudsen, vice president for agriculture. And that's on top of a 17 percent reduction in acres in 2017 that was prompted by overproduction for the Minn-Dak factory capacity in the previous two years. Harvest at Minn-Dak is scheduled to start Sept. 11 with processing starting Sept. 13.

While they await the beans, farmers and their workers were completing fall tillage on small grains ground.

South of Breckenridge, Minn., Jerry Layton, of Doran, Minn., who had a career in trucking, drives a tractor for Jirak Brothers, a grain and sugar beet operation. Layton was using an offset tandem disk, working lime into wheat field that had gotten chunky after earlier rains.

"They come and spread it first, they chisel plow it in, and I come in and disk it," Layton says. "I would say I've got three quarters left to go. We're about right on time, he said. "It's a beautiful day."

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