Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
Two breakouts on top, followed by main bar. The basics of CRP The Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, is a federal program that gives landowners an annual per-acre payment to take environmentally sensitive farmland out of production. The land receives a specially designed vegetative cover that reduces soil erosion, improves soil and air quality and develops wildlife habitat. CRP contracts typically are for 10 or 15 years.
Generalizing about Upper Midwest crop conditions is risky. What's true in some areas, or even in most, is never true in all. But this much is certain: Area crops continue to do well overall, though heavy rains in places, particularly South Dakota, have caused major damage. Unfavorable planting conditions already were hampering South Dakota crops, and the recent excess rains exacerbate those early difficulties.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Planted sunflower acres are up, and the fledgling crop looks "phenomenal." That more than offsets, at least for now, concerns about potential disruptions in exports, sunflower officials say. "The crop is off to a great start. Right now, it looks just beautiful. I think we're headed for a good crop this year," said John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association.
HUTCHINSON, Minn — Ryan Bushman has seen many good crops during his time in the Hutchinson, Minn., area. He's optimistic that 2018 is bringing another. "It's looking good. We're a little wet in places, but it's really coming along," says Bushman, owner and operator of Prairie Road Crop Consulting in Hutchinson.
Corn likes heat and moisture. It's generally received plenty of both in the Upper Midwest recently, and so the crop is developing nicely, a new government report says. Spring wheat and soybeans, as well as corn, are progressing well on balance in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to the weekly crop progress report released June 25 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Tim Courneya says Upper Midwest farmers are emailing him photos of their "picture-perfect" dry bean fields, a good indication of how well the 2018 crop has developed so far. But Courneya, executive vice president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, based in Frazee, Minn., notes the crop won't be harvested for months and "will take some hits from the weather" before then.
There are only a few things that everyone in modern agriculture agrees on. We all dislike food waste. We all stress farm safety. We all value timely rains. And we all agree that it's extremely difficult to get started in farming or ranching without an "in" — an established farmer or farm couple who provides access to land. Usually, the connection is a relative, most often a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle. Occasionally the tie is a farm couple nearing retirement without children of their own or whose children aren't interested in farming.
In 2016 the Minnesota Corn Growers Association launched its goal of making corn farmers in the state "the most sustainable and environmentally responsible in the United States." Now, the group has announced 12 farmer-led research projects — on topics ranging from cover crop systems to intercrop seeding — to help reach that goal. "Good ideas start often with the people who do it for a living," says Paul Meints, the senior research director for the MCGA.
Hannah Molitor has made dairy farming her career. She wants to help others make it their career, too. Molitor is the the new Dairy Grazing Association/Sustainable Farming Association Central Minnesota education coordinator. She'll help to recruit, educate and support apprentice dairy farmers, and to promote sustainable grass-based dairy farms in Benton, Sherburne, Crow Wing, Morrison, Douglas, Kandiyohi, McLeod and Todd counties. "I'm just really excited to be starting this," says Molitor who will continue to work as herd manager of her home dairy farm near St. Cloud, Minn.
Northwest Minnesota rancher Rachel Gray suffered through drought last summer. She promised herself then that "I'll never complain again about getting rain." So Gray was philosophical after receiving a 5-inch deluge over the weekend that complicated her family's cow-calf operation near Blackduck, Minn. "It's more (rain) than we wanted, but we know this is better than not getting enough," she says. The Blackduck area was among parts of the Upper Midwest that received heavy rains in recent days.