WHEATON, Minn. – The Traverse County Fair, with its outstanding fireworks display, had come to an end. With school starting, the Beyers took one last long weekend for family fun.
Rodd and Jamie Beyer, with daughters, Aspen, 13, Paige, 12, and Josie, 10, traveled to Leech Lake to spend time with farmer friends, the Hapka family, of Warren, Minn. Temperatures were cool at Minnesota’s third largest lake, but the Beyers and Hapkas still caught some fish.
The two families talked about a concern facing wheat farmers in northwest Minnesota. According to the University of Minnesota, reports of low falling numbers in hard red spring wheat are widespread. A low falling number score might indicate a rapid breakdown of starch in a ground wheat sample. The test is one way to measure sprout damage in harvested grain, and it might suggest poor germination for seed or poor fermentation for baking and milling.
But, sometimes the falling numbers test doesn’t truly indicate poor qualities. It may be impossible to tell if the low test value is a result of sprout damage, presence of late maturity “a” – amylase, or the result of inherent characteristics of the variety, according to the University of Minnesota’s blog entitled, “Help, My Numbers are Falling.” Farmers may need to complete testing themselves if possible.
“Our friends were talking with all the neighbors and how they were all in it together,” said Rodd. “You can’t really stop it from happening, but it is another layer of stress for what looked like a very nice crop. We know what that’s like too.”
The challenge in west central Minnesota and eastern South Dakota is white mold (sclerotinia stem rot) in soybeans, he added. Sclerotia fungus in the soil gets into the soybean flowers in July and then the infection spreads to the stems. Wet and cool weather during flowering sets up an environment for white mold to flourish in thick soybean canopies.
Still, the majority of the soybeans looked great – with thick stems and lots of pods. Rodd figured the pods were filled halfway up the plants as of Sept. 2.
Rain stayed away in late August, but on the evening of Sept. 2, the Beyers received from 0.2-1.1 inches.
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“We don’t need any rain. I think we’re good for the year,” Rodd said. “I don’t think we need a rain until May 15.”
The corn looked great, but all of the row crops needed more heat. Temperatures in September were forecast to range from a high around 70 to a low around 40.
The majority of farmers in west central Minnesota hope the first frost holds off until mid-October.
The alfalfa was recently harvested for the fourth and last time this year. The cutting was excellent.
“A solid cutting,” he said. “We’re getting nice regrowth on it already and the forecast is going to be decent. Hopefully it will make it through the winter just fine.”
At home, the Beyer crew worked on combines and harvesting equipment. Rodd was also checking on deer stands for the adults as well as Aspen and Paige. A statewide youth season runs from Thursday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 20, for youth hunters age 10-17.
“I’m hoping in October that I’m really busy with harvest, so I want to have everything ready to go for deer hunting,” said Rodd. “We want to make sure we’re set up and ready to help them enjoy deer hunting.”