Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
Drought has always been part of my life, both personally and professionally. I've lost track of the many times I've seen it ravage crops and pasture, stress agricultural communities and devastate farm and ranch families. Sadly, I'm watching and writing about it again this summer. Drought is hammering much of the Upper Midwest; many crops are damaged, in some cases badly or even fatally. Pastures and hayland are suffering, too. So are agricultural towns and families.
LANGDON, N.D. — There's little, if any, sign of drought stress in canola fields in the Langdon, N.D., area. Scientists here and elsewhere in the state want that to continue — and to help canola farmers in general. "There's a lot of research that can benefit people who raise canola. And we want to help make them more aware of what's being learned," said Bryan Hanson, North Dakota State University extension agronomist at the Langdon Research Extension Center.
HOFFMAN, Minn. — Many farmers say their career is what they always wanted, what they always planned on. Not Andrew Barsness. But the happenstance Hoffman, Minn., organic farmer is making the most of his unexpected profession, in part by advocating for other beginning farmers.
Stephen Censky, a soybean industry executive with ties to Minnesota and South Dakota, has been nominated to be deputy secretary of agriculture. The deputy secretary traditionally manages the ag department's day-to-day operations. Censky has served as CEO of the American Soybean Association for 21 years. If President Donald Trump's nomination is confirmed as expected, Censky will leave the commodity group.
Upper Midwest crops continue to go downhill, a new government report says. The weekly crop progress report, reflecting conditions on July 16, was released Monday, July 17, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report found, as expected, that drought's already-major impact on most crops in the region is growing, in some cases rapidly. Corn reflects the ongoing downturn.
STARBUCK, Minn. — Minnesota often is associated with lakes and trees, corn and soybeans. But cattle also are important in the state — including the area in central Minnesota known as both the Glacial Ridge and the place "between the corn and the trees." "We see this an opportunity to showcase cattle's importance in Minnesota and to help people — both in and out agriculture — learn more about our industry," said Ashley Kohls, executive director of the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association.
KENSINGTON, Minn. — Curt Stark knows his crops, and those of his neighbors, won't be as good this year as they were in 2016. He just hopes the 2017 crop won't be too much of a drop-off from a year ago, when he was among the many Minnesota farmers enjoying record yields. "What we had last year — we know this year's not going to measure up to that," he says. "But we still have a chance for an above-average, or at least average, crop this year. We need to start catching some rains, though, for that to happen."
Overall crops in the drought-stressed Upper Midwest continue to decline, according to a new government report. The weekly crop progress report, reflecting conditions on July 9, was released Monday, July 10, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Spring wheat reflects the ongoing deterioration. In South Dakota, 72 percent of the spring wheat crop was in poor or very poor shape, compared with 65 percent on July 2.
OSLO, Minn. — Earl Mallinger's 2017 harvest will begin later this summer — the 96th or 97th in which he's been involved in some way. Yes, you read that right.
Knowing when to give up the car keys — or take them from aging relatives — is a challenge for Americans in general. Knowing when to give up the tractor keys — or take them from aging relatives — can be a particular concern for farm and ranch families. "It's hard for them (senior farmers and ranchers) to quit doing what they love. So they work later than people in other professions," says Jane Strommen, North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University Extension gerontology specialist.