Mikkel Pates / Agweek Staff Writer
WARREN, Minn. — Bill Sczepanski's farm insolvency at Stephen, Minn., isn't as widely known as Ron McMartin Jr.'s, across the river at St. Thomas, N.D., but both have had their impacts. The two large farms in the northern Red River Valley were 40 miles apart, both brought down by declining commodity prices and production challenges. Both had impacts on suppliers and associated businesses. In the Sczepanski case, creditors fought successfully at the district court level to get the benefit of about $1 million in "unit retains," owed by a sugar beet cooperative.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—American Crystal Sugar Co. stock share prices and trading ran steady to stronger in the trading season, which seems to be coming to a conclusion, says Jayson Menke, ag stock specialist at FNC Ag Stock LLC, in Grand Forks, N.D. American Crystal of Moorhead, Minn., is a farmer-owned cooperative in which members purchase shares, which offer the right and obligation to deliver beets. Shares typically are bought and sold from harvest until spring.
LAKE BENTON, Minn. — Jim Nichols campaigns like a politician, but he isn't running for office anymore. The 71-year-old former Minnesota agriculture commissioner is lobbying for farmers to learn more about how to boost their corn yields. He says he's achieved an impressive 300-bushel yield by paying better attention to nitrogen fertilizer timing.
PERLEY, Minn. --Paul Houglum knows farming has taken its toll on his hearing. In mid-March he was hauling grain to the local elevator, emptying wheat from bins with a large vacuum machine. "It's a very loud machine," says Houglum after stopping the task. "The new ones have gotten better, but they're still loud." Noise is "one of the things you try to put up with" as a farmer, he says. "You try to wear ear muffs or ear plugs when you're doing it. But, there's certain things you have to hear, too. There's times you don't using hearing protection as much as you should."
SISSETON, S.D.—Farmer Robert Hanson pulled up to the pumps on a moonlit Saturday night at Sisseton, S.D., but the horsepower was provided by the actual horses. "Methane," Hanson replied, when asked what kind of fuel the Percheron/Morgan team were associated with. Of course, they'd be producing it, not buying it.
WEST FARGO, N.D. — The Environmental Protection Agency predicted it might take six months to do an initial evaluation of "energy beets" for their environmental footprint as a feedstock for biofuels. Six years — not months — later the agency has a thumbs up on energy beets as a feedstock — rating it for greenhouse gases and other environmental issues. Proponents say it's a the first of three hurdles in making it accepted as a viable biofuel.
VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Dicamba damage on 2017 soybeans has shifted into a new phase of high-stakes public relations, regulatory and legal battles. The Arkansas State Plant Board on Aug. 25 recommended limiting the chemical's use to before April 15 in that state for 2018. Low-volatility dicamba herbicides include Monsanto's XtendiMax, DuPont's FeXapen and BASF's Engenia. The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing label instructions for the chemicals for 2018.
MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has granted a bank's motion to put a receiver in charge of gathering personal assets of Ron McMartin Jr. to pay off creditor claims and denied the farmer's effort to dismiss the case. BMO Harris Bank N.A. alleges the large-scale, specialty crops farmer, formerly based in northeast North Dakota, purposefully engaged in a pattern and practice of misrepresentation to obtain or continue credit from the bank.
ROTHSAY, Minn. — After cercospora leaf spot robbed sugar beet yields last year, farmers this year have largely kept ahead of it. Cercospora is the most devastating foliar leaf disease that the region's sugar beets encounter. Farmers deal with it every year, losing sugar, root quality and storability, as well as processing efficiency.
ROTHSAY, Minn. — The guys at Haugrud Farms Inc., are upbeat about the prospects for their certified wheat and soybean seed crops, as well as potential yields for their commercial sugar beet crops. Bryant Haugrud manages the farm with his brother, Brent, and is in the seed business that their father, Harlan, 86, started about 60 years ago near Rothsay. Brent's son, Ben, also is in the operation, as well as Bryant's son-in-law, Lance Johnson.