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AgweekTV Full Show: Spring flooding, wheat planting, Camp Aquila Pure Maple Syrup, storm impacts calf health

This week on AgweekTV, spring flooding is taking a toll on parts of our region. We're in western Minnesota, where spring planting has started with a few acres of wheat. We'll tell you about how an ag finance career led to a maple syrup business. And we examine if the abnormal snow and cold could have long-term effects on calves born this spring.

We are part of The Trust Project.

This week on AgweekTV, spring flooding is taking a toll on parts of our region. We're in western Minnesota, where spring planting has started with a few acres of wheat. We'll tell you about how an ag finance career led to a maple syrup business . And we examine if the abnormal snow and cold could have long-term effects on calves born this spring .

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WELCOME TO AGWEEK TV, I'M EMILY BEAL.

EASTERN NORTH DAKOTA AND NORTHWEST MINNESOTA ARE DEALING WITH THE EFFECTS OF SERIOUS SPRING FLOODING.

HEAVY SNOW ACROSS MUCH OF NORTH DAKOTA EARLIER THIS MONTH, THEN HEAVY RAINS AND A FAST MELT LED TO FLASH FLOODS THAT OVERWHELMED SEVERAL COMMUNITIES AND SWAMPED FIELDS AND DITCHES.

NORTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM HAS DECLARED A STATEWIDE EMERGENCY FOR THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY THE STORMS, WHICH INCLUDES DOWNED POWER LINES THAT LEFT THOUSANDS WITHOUT ELECTRICITY IN THE WESTERN PART OF THE STATE.

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FLOODING CAUSED AN UNBELIEVABLE WASHOUT NEAR HATTON, NORTH DAKOTA.

IT TOOK OUT PART OF A FARM FIELD AND ROAD. STEELE COUNTY DRAIN #11 IS USUALLY AN UNASSUMING DITCH ALONG A TOWNSHIP ROAD. BUT NOW IT'S MORE LIKE A RIVER, AS LONG AS A FOOTBALL FIELD AND THIRTY FEET DEEP.

THE WATER RESOURCE DISTRICT SAYS THIS USED TO HAVE A DROP STRUCTURE, AND A 48-INCH CULVERT TO MOVE WATER DOWNSTREAM.

Tor: Overland flooding. All of it. Little tiny creeks, last year they were dry, this year, it all ran off, because of frozen ground. Took everything there, there is nothing there, you can't even see a control structure was even there anymore.

REPAIRS WILL START ONCE THE WATER RECEDES.

WITH MANY FIELDS ACROSS NORTH DAKOTA SOAKED IN FLOODWATER, OR EVEN SNOW, IT'S HARD TO SAY WHEN PLANTING WILL GET ROLLING.

BUT IT'S SLOWLY GETTING STARTED IN SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA.

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JEFF BEACH JOINS US NOW WITH THIS WEEK'S AGWEEK COVER STORY.

SMALL GRAINS ARE NOT COMMONLY GROWN IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA. BUT WHILE OTHERS WAIT TO PLANT CORN, JARED GOPLEN GOT A JUMP ON PLANTING BY DOING SOME WHEAT.

Jared Goplen: IT'S A REALLY DIVERSE STATE, AND IT'S KIND OF FUN TO GET OUT AND TALK TO SOME OF THOSE PEOPLE.

JARED GOPLEN IS AN EXTENSION CROPS EDUCATOR FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, BUT HE'S ALSO A FARMER IN SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA. ON THIS CHILLY DAY, HE WAS PLANTING WHEAT IN MOSTLY CORN AND SOYBEAN TERRITORY.

Jared Goplen: THERE'S NOT A LOT OF SMALL GRAINS IN THIS AREA, SO YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY WITH SOME OF THESE COLD TEMPERATURES PEOPLE ARE HOLDING OFF ON A LOT OF THE CORN, YOU KNOW GETTING ANY CORN IN THE GROUND. BUT YOU KNOW WITH SOME OF THE SMALL GRAIN, THEY CAN TAKE A LOT OF THE COOL TEMPERATURES. PROBABLY ONE OF THE EARLIER ONES FOR SURE.

GOPLEN ALSO RAISES SOME CATTLE, SO BY PLANTING WHEAT, WHICH MATURES EARLY, AFTER HARVESTING IT HE HOPES TO FOLLOW IT WITH AN ALFALFA CROP TO USE AS FEED. HE SAYS OTHER BENEFITS OF WHEAT ARE LOWER FERTILIZER, HERBICIDE AND PESTICIDE COSTS. AND THE ADDED BENEFIT OF GETTING AHEAD OF TOUGH TO CONTROL WEEDS.

Jared Goplen: WE'VE GOT ONE FIELD THAT WE'VE REALLY STRUGGLED TO MANAGE WATER HEMP IN CORN AND SOYBEANS, SO WE FIGURED LET'S PLANT SOME WHEAT THERE. GET IT PLANTED EARLY AND YOU GET IT HARVESTED BEFORE WATER HEMP EVEN PRODUCES VIABLE SEED, SO FIGURED IT'S A WAY TO KIND OF GET ON TOP OF THAT.

FOR NOW, MOST GROWERS ARE WAITING FOR WARMER WEATHER TO REALLY GET THINGS GOING.

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Jared Goplen: FOR THE MOST PART, I THINK IF WE CAN GET THOSE TEMPERATURES UP A LITTLE BIT, I THINK THERE WILL BE A LOT OF ACTIVITY HERE. WE MIGHT EVEN GET THINGS IN A LITTLE BIT EARLIER THAN NORMAL, DESPITE SOME OF THE WETNESS THAT WE HAD LAST FALL.

EVEN WITH TIGHT GLOBAL SUPPLIES AND THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE HELPING DRIVE UP WHEAT PRICES, THERE'S BEEN ONLY A SMALL UPTICK IN WHEAT ACRES LOCALLY,

AND NATIONALLY.

THANKS JEFF.

SO FAR THE COLD WEATHER AND WET FIELDS HAVE KEPT FARMERS FROM STARTING TO PLANT.

ROB TATE RAISES CORN AND SOYBEANS NEAR CANNON FALLS, IN SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA. HE'S ALSO A CROP INSURANCE AGENT AND IS ON THE BOARD OF THE MINNESOTA CORN GROWERS ASSOCIATION.

TATE SAYS HE WAS DONE PLANTING LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME, SO NOW, HE SAYS HE'S EXPECTING SOME LONG DAYS WHEN HE IS ABLE TO GET INTO THE FIELDS. IN THE MEANTIME, HE'S MAKING SURE ALL HIS EQUIPMENT IS READY TO GO.

Rob Tate: It's out of our control at this point, and we have to just wait for conditions to be fit. We can't mud it in, I mean, we want to make sure that we do everything we can to get as good of a crop as we can.

ON THE OTHER HAND, TATE SAYS HE'S OPTIMISTIC ABOUT CORN AND SOYBEAN PRICES, DESPITE THE CHALLENGE OF HIGHER INPUT COSTS.

YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT PLANTING DELAYS IN THE NEXT AGWEEK MAGAZINE, OR AT AGWEEK.COM .

THE U.S. SENATE IS LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS TO COMPLAINTS ABOUT MEAT PACKER CONCENTRATION AROUND THE COUNTRY.

THE SENATE AG COMMITTEE HELD A HEARING IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK, TO HEAR TESTIMONY ON THE CATTLE PRICE DISCOVERY AND TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2022. THE ACT WOULD ESTABLISH MINIMUMS FOR NEGOTIATED SALES AND REQUIRE CLEAR REPORTING OF MARKETING CONTRACTS. A NORTH DAKOTA CATTLE PRODUCER WHO SPOKE AT THE HEARING SAYS SHE'S NOT SURE IT GOES FAR ENOUGH IN PROTECTING RANCHERS.

Shelly Ziesch: WE NEED TO HAVE MORE COMPETITION, THIS WILL HOPEFULLY HELP WITH THAT. WE NEED TO MAKE MORE REGIONAL, SMALLER PROCESSORS.

BUT A KANSAS CATTLEMAN BELIEVES THE ACT WOULD GO TOO FAR.

Shawn Tiffany: ULTIMATELY, THE POWER TO CONTROL MARKETING DECISIONS NEEDS TO REST IN THE HANDS OF THE PRODUCERS, AND NOT TIP ADDITIONAL LEVERAGE TOWARDS THE PACKERS, WHICH IS WHAT THESE BILLS WOULD DO.

THE HEARING ALSO INVOLVED A SEPARATE BUT RELATED BILL, KNOWN AS THE MEAT AND POULTRY SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR ACT. IT WOULD CREATE AN OFFICE TO INVESTIGATE COMPETITION MATTERS.

THE WINTER STORMS THAT MADE THEIR WAY THROUGH THE REGION HAVE UNDOUBTEDLY MADE CALVING SEASON DIFFICULT FOR MANY RANCHERS TO NAVIGATE. WITH THE LOW TEMPERATURES AND HIGH ACCUMULATION OF SNOW, CALVES MAY FACE SOME LONG-TERM HEALTH CONDITIONS.

Rachel: It's an awfully big event. Mother nature was not kind to us and so that's a lot to expect from the calves.

Rachel Endecott, the founder of Grey Horse Consulting, has had a front row seat to the devastation the spring blizzard has brought to the state of Montana. She says ranchers have had their hands full with the current calving season and that the calves have had to fight Mother Nature too. Endecott believes that stress will play a large role in possible health problems in the calves, as well as respiratory issues.

Rachel: Scours from stress, usually in that kind of three days after that big event kind of time range. And I wouldn't be surprised either if we see some respiratory issues with some pneumonia

Gerald Stokka, doubles as both an NDSU Extension Veterinarian and Livestock Specialist, and a rancher near Cooperstown, North Dakota. He warns his fellow ranchers of the health implications that could occur if the calf does not receive the proper nutrients after hitting the ground.

Gerald Stokka: This is the year that there might be some follow up here with some of these disease issues because If calves get chilled, or they don't get up to nurse right away, then the immunity that they take through the colostrum, that first milk, isn't absorbed as well as it should be. And so they're a little higher risk of getting sick.

For ranchers that are unable to save their calves from the brutal weather conditions, there is now a financial assistance program they can apply to. The Livestock Indemnity Program provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency provides partial value compensation for livestock lost in the disaster. Zac Carlson, an NDSU Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, says ranchers need to document the loss by taking photos or videos of the animal.

Zac Carlson: So It's really important that it's time stamped, most phones will time stamp pictures. But it does need to have that time available for those.

RANCHERS CAN CONTACT THEIR LOCAL FSA OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Katie Pinke: COMING UP, WE'LL TELL YOU HOW THIS LATE SPRING IS EXTENDING THE MAPLE SAP HARVEST, AND TAPPING TREES LIKE THIS.

MANY CASSELTON RESIDENTS HAVE VOICED CONCERNS ABOUT A PLANNED SOYBEAN CRUSHING PLANT, AND NOW THE THARALDSON ETHANOL PLANT HAS NOW JOINED THE OPPOSITION.

THARALDSON ETHANOL COO RYAN THORPE SAYS THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO HAVE ANOTHER AG PROCESSING PLANT RIGHT NEXT DOOR. THORPE BELIEVES IT WILL DRIVE UP THE PRICE OF CORN, LOWERING THEIR PROFITS.

HE SAYS IF IT WERE AT LEAST 30 MILES DOWN THE ROAD, IT WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM. THORPE SENT A LETTER TO THE MAYOR OF CASSELTON, STATING THEIR OPPOSITION.

BECAUSE THARALDSON ETHANOL OWNS MORE THAN 20% OF THE LAND ADJACENT TO THE SITE, IT WILL REQURE 75% OF CASSELTON'S CITY COUNCIL TO APPROVE THE PROJECT. THE COUNCIL IS SET TO MEET MAY 2ND.

NORTH DAKOTA SOYBEAN PROCESSORS SAYS THE SITE, BETWEEN THE ETHANOL PLANT AND THE TOWN OF CASSELTON, IS THE ONLY WORKABLE LOCATION IN THE STATE.

A FAMILY IS MINNESOTA'S LAKES COUNTRY HAS MADE A BUSINESS OUT OF HARVESTING MAPLE SAP AND TURNING IT INTO FRESH MAPLE SYRUP.

STU PETERSON AND HIS FAMILY RUN "CAMP AQUILA PURE MAPLE SYRUP" ON STAR LAKE NEAR DENT. AS KATIE PINKE FOUND, A FORMER BOYS CAMP IS THE PERFECT PLACE FOR THIS VENTURE.

Katie Pinke: WHAT STARTED OUT AS A HOBBY IS NOW A SUCCESSFUL AGRIBUSINESS IN RURAL MINNESOTA.

The flavor of good maple syrup is just uncomparable.

CAMP AQUILA WAS A CAMP FOR BOYS FROM THE 1950'S TO THE 1970'S. STU PETERSON AND HIS WIFE CORINNE BOUGHT IT IN 1983. IT'S 120 WOODED ACRES, THOUSANDS OF MAPLE TREES ON MOST OF IT.

We got trees!

THE PETERSONS STARTED TAPPING THE TREES FOR SAP, AS A HOBBY IN 2000.

Stu Peterson: FOR TWENTY YEARS WE WERE WEEKENDERS OUT OF THE CITIES.

I just want to check the barrel here, to see how it ran overnight.

WE STARTED TAPPING OUR FIRST TREE IN THE YEAR 2000, WE STARTED OUR OWN LITTLE FOOD COMPANY.

THE PETERSONS MAPLE SYRUP COMPANY HAS JUST CONTINUED TO GROW SINCE THEN. THIS YEAR THEY HAVE COLLECTED AND PROCESSED ABOUT 8,200 GALLONS OF MAPLE SAP FROM TWELVE HUNDRED TREES. THAT BOILS DOWN TO ABOUT 240 GALLONS OF SYRUP.

In our best year I think we made 370 gallons.

AND THEY SELL EVERY DROP THEY PRODUCE. STILL, THEIR OPERATION IS NOTHING LIKE THE MAJOR PRODUCERS IN VERMONT AND NEW YORK.

Stu Peterson: WE'RE SMALL PEANUTS COMPARED TO THE BIG PRODUCERS. WE'RE PRETTY LABOR INTENSIVE THE WAY WE DO IT, AND SO WE CAN HANDLE IT SIZED FOR MY WIFE AND I, AND THE KIDS WHEN THEY SHOW UP, WHEN THE SAP'S RUNNING.

ALTHOUGH PETERSON DIDN'T GROW UP ON A FARM, HE DID HAVE A CAREER IN AG FINANCE BEFORE BUYING THE CAMP. HE SAYS HE DOES HAVE A FEW THINGS IN COMMON WITH CONVENTIONAL FARMERS.

Stu Peterson: A NUMBER OF MY FORMER CUSTOMERS IN MY OTHER LIFE WERE THE SUGARBEET OPERATIONS. AND SO THEY'VE GOT THEIR BIG SUGAR FACTORY, WE'VE GOT OUR LITTLE SUGAR FACTORY.

No one ever builds a sugar house big enough.

THEY HARVEST IN THE FALL, WE HARVEST IN THE SPRING.

PETERSON SAYS MINNESOTA HAS SEEN HUGE GROWTH IN COLLECTING SAP AS A HOBBY OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS.

Stu Peterson: JUST PEOPLE TAPPING FIVE, TEN, FIFTEEN, TWENTY TREES IS JUST PHENOMENAL. I COULDN'T BEGIN TO ESTIMATE HOW MANY THERE ARE, BUT ESPECIALLY IN THIS AREA, A LOT OF MAPLES, A LOT OF RURAL PARCELS.

PETERSON SAYS THEY MAINTAIN THIS AS A NATURAL WOOD LOT, WITH LIMITED SELECTIVE CUTTINGS. HE SAYS ATTENTION TO DETAIL GIVES SMALL PRODUCERS LIKE THEM AN ADVANTAGE OVER BIGGER ONES

Stu Peterson: THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THE TREES IN MINNESOTA, THE SUGAR MAPLES, AND OUR SOILS. MINNESOTA PRODUCERS DO VERY WELL IN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIONS.

NEAR DENT, MINNESOTA, THIS IS KATIE PINKE FOR AGWEEK.

THE PETERSONS SELL THEIR SYRUP AT ABOUT THIRTY STORES AROUND MINNESOTA. FOR MORE INFORMATION, YOU CAN GO TO CAMP AQUILA SYRUP.COM .

STILL AHEAD, WE'RE PULLING ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE STORIES OUT OF THE AGWEEK VAULT... ABOUT ONE OF THE NATION'S FEW AG PILOT SCHOOLS.

WITH HEAVY PRECIPITATION MAKING ITSELF PRESENT IN THE REGION AS OF LATE, COULD THERE BE DRIER DAYS AHEAD?

HERE'S JOHN WITH OUR AGRI-WEATHER OUTLOOK.

AGWEEK TV RECENTLY KICKED OFF ITS 8TH YEAR ON THE AIR, AND WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO "OPEN THE VAULT" AND TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT SOME OF OUR MOST POPULAR STORIES FROM YEARS PAST.

ONE OF THOSE IS THE TIME MIKKEL PATES VISITED AN AG PILOT SCHOOL IN MADISON, SOUTH DAKOTA.

I was flying before my feet could reach the pedals.

MORRIS RIGGIN HAS BEEN TEACHING AG PILOTS SINCE HE WAS 19. HE STARTED FLYING ABOUT TEN YEARS BEFORE THAT...

I don't ever remember not being in an airplane.

THE RIGGIN FAMILY HAS BEEN UP IN THE AIR FOR ABOUT 100 YEARS. MORRIS'S GREAT UNCLE WAS A WORLD WAR ONE FIGHTER PILOT, AND HIS DAD WAYNE WAS A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR IN WORLD WAR TWO... WAYNE STARTED RIGGIN FLIGHT SERVICE IN 1947, TEACHING CROP DUSTERS. BUT AS THE PLANES GOT BIGGER AND MORE EXPENSIVE, INSURANCE COMPANIES WANTED PILOTS TO BE TRAINED BETTER...

And so that's how I came into just kind of dedicating my flight school to doing agricultural pilots.

AG AVIATION TAKES MANY SPECIFIC SKILLS FOR SAFE OPERATION, IN A BUSINESS WITH NO MARGIN FOR ERROR...

Especially with a load in the airplane because every time you turn, it's different. We teach them the basics, you know, how to go find the field, how to scout the field from the air. Then we actually teach them how to fly low.

...So this is the height, about ten foot....

There's just some people, when it gets right down to it, aren't cut out to fly low.

You were talking about an ex-military helicopter pilot.

He was trained as a Med-Evac pilot trained by the Army, and they go into hot landing zones and they're being shot at. We flew down across the field, I gave him a demo ride. On the way back he looked at me and said 'That's enough of that!' He said 'I've never been so scared in my life!'

Well that was a nice little flight. Very smooth landing.

For Ag week, this is Mikkel Pates at Madison, South Dakota.

FOUR THOUSAND AG PILOTS IN THE U-S ISN'T NEARLY ENOUGH. THE AVERAGE AGE IS 56, AND AT LEAST TEN PERCENT ARE RETIRING EVERY YEAR.

STILL AHEAD, MINNESOTA'S STATE FFA CONVENTION IS BACK IN PERSON, AND BIGGER THAN EVER.

MINNESOTA'S STATE FFA CONVENTION WAS BACK IN PERSON THIS WEEK, AND BIGGER THAN EVER.

NEARLY FIVE THOUSAND STUDENTS GATHERED IN MINNEAPOLIS TO SHOW OFF THEIR SKILLS IN AG AND NATURAL RESOURCES. THE CONVENTION HAS BEEN VIRTUAL FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS, BECAUSE OF COVID. BUT THE STATE FFA FOUNDATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SAYS SHE THINKS COVID ACTUALLY BOOSTED INTEREST IN FFA, AS STUDENTS LOOKED FOR SOMETHING TO BELONG TO.

Val Aarsvold: THERE'S SO MUCH MOMENTUM RIGHT NOW IN OUR PROGRAMS. WE JUST ADDED AND CHARTERED TWENTY NEW PROGRAMS IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, AND THAT'S REALLY A TESTAMENT TO TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS SEEING THE VALUE IN HAVING STUDENTS DOING EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AND BEING INVOLVED IN OUR PROGRAMS, SO IT'S A REALLY GOOD TIME TO BE INVOLVED.

WE'LL LEARN MORE ABOUT THE AGRICULTURE BASED, MINNESOTA LICENSE PLATE THAT WAS UNVEILED AT THE CONVENTION ON NEXT WEEK'S SHOW.

STORIES YOU'LL ONLY SEE ON AGWEEK.COM AND IN AGWEEK MAGAZINE THIS WEEK...

PROTESTERS SAY DEPOPULATING POULTRY IS WRONG. BUT VETS SAY DEPOPULATION TECHNIQUES ARE THE HUMANE CHOICE FOR BIRDS INFECTED WITH AVIAN INFLUENZA.

AND AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST HAS PURCHASED A PIECE OF FARMLAND ENSURING A FARMER CAN RETIRE WHILE THE LAND REMAINS IN USE.

WE APPRECIATE YOU WATCHING AGWEEK TV.

REMEMBER TO CHECK US OUT DAILY ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM, TO KEEP UP ON ALL YOUR AG NEWS. HAVE A GREAT WEEK.

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