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Edgeley, N.D., farmers Kurt Brandenburg, 59; his son, Kyle, 30; and father, Don, 84. Missing is Kurt’s son-in-law, Chris Brummond. It’s been a slow, cold spring, but a 60-foot-wide planter helps get caught up. Photo taken May 13, 2019, near Edgeley, N.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates))

Forging ahead: Planting delays, prices can't obscure big picture

EDGELEY, N.D.—The Brandenburg family east of Edgeley is working to stay bullish on the future their farm, regardless of tough planting and price challenges.

Kurt Brandenburg, 59, his son-in-law, Chris Brummond, 36, and son, Kyle Brandenburg, 30, are striving to get through the downturns heading toward a brighter horizon. Kurt's father, Don, 84, is is often nearby for helping with logistics.

Big equipment can help farmers get caught up, but "Mother Nature and the good Lord" control so much. Six miles to the north, fields were wetter and prevented farmers from getting in the fields. The field east of Edgeley that Kyle was planting had been black and had better drainage, allowing some progress. "If it was no-till, it would be a lot stickier and gummier and we wouldn't be able to go," Kurt said.

Kurt said he thinks there will be a lot of prevented planting situations this year. "We're going and doing what we can," he says, and there may be an opportunity to come back and "patch" plant, later. A "soaker" was predicted for later in the week, which could set things back another week. "You never know," he said.

'Don't spend unless you have to'

Kyle Brandenburg, 30, said his farm was about one-third planted in corn as of May 13. The Brandenburgs are raising corn and soybeans this year. Some years they also raise wheat or pinto beans as well. On May 13, they'd been planting straight for two days, and had about 500 acres of corn in the ground, putting them about one-third done. As a group, they farm about 5,500 acres.

"It's tricky with the soil temperature," says Kyle, who is in his 10th year of leasing land. "We might've pushed it a little on the start. Hopefully it comes up all right."

There are many factors in the pace of planting, so an end-date hard to predict, Kyle says. If things go smoothly, planting can be complete at about 200 acres a day. They use a DB60 John Deere planter—60 feet wide, with some precision planting equipment on it. They added some new mudsmith gauge guards to the machine.

Brandenburg was hoping to complete about 200 acres a day, using a 60-foot wide planter."Just don't spend unless you have to, make it work," Kurt says, when asked what concepts will keep farmers upright in these times.. "You've got to keep the costs down because that interest is starting to climb, and it'll catch you," he says." There's a lot of people in that situation, I'm afraid."

Kyle recognizes the sacrifices previous generations have made to allow his generation to get a start. The plan is to move forward, save and spend only on what he has to. Last year, they planted more soybeans to save on input costs, but the result was a "horrible harvest."

"This year we bumped up a little more corn acres," he says smiling.