• Holly Spangler

    Drought: 1988 All Over Again?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 28, 2012

    I remember 1988 well. It was the summer my parents completely remodeled their house. We lived in a 22-foot camping trailer for four months. And the only time it rained all summer was the week they had the roof off. So. Anybody have a roof that needs replacing? A sacrificial lamb/roof? It's getting dire, across a lot of the state. Last week on the summer beef tour in Peoria, Marion cattleman Jeff Beasley told me it looked like a lush oasis up here, compared to his farm. He's right; I've mowed…

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  • Willie Vogt

    High-Tech Farm Equipment is Sales Challenge

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 27, 2012

    Farmers have been facing more than their fair share of changes in the past decade from new-tech crops to equipment that's increasingly more complex. We do our best to help you understand the changes ahead from telematics to new techniques like vertical tillage, but at the end of the day when you want to crack your wallet for something new the dealer has to fill that role. Not everything has a high-tech story to tell, but often a product has unique features that need demonstrating. Recently I…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Wedding Photos? On the Bin, of Course

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 27, 2012

    A week or so ago, we were riding high on the after-glow of our nephew's wedding. Matt and Haley Spangler are now a ripe old married couple of 10 days, give or take, and we're all still pretty excited about the whole thing. Four-year-old Caroline, in fact, cannot stop talking about weddings. She has made many a craft project in the past few days that "had to get done for the wedding." So earnest. Because Matt has worked for us on the farm since his early junior high days, and because he…

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  • Josh Flint

    I'm Off to Explore Cuban Agriculture

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 27, 2012

    I’m very close to being a full-fledged digital/social media addict. I check e-mail, Facebook and Twitter combined about 100 times a day. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I’ll be “detoxing” over the next five days. I’m travelling with the Illinois Farm Bureau to Cuba. Smartphones and the like will not work in this country. In many ways, it will be like turning back the clock to 1999. Either I’ll enjoy it, or I’ll suffer massive withdrawal…

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  • Curt Arens

    Summer on the Farm: Urbanites Can't Appreciate the Finer Things.

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on June 26, 2012

    File this under “random thoughts remotely connected to other random thoughts I had two weeks ago” OR “things I wish other people understood about farm life.” The other night as I was sitting in the bleachers in Wynot, watching both of my daughters’ Crofton teams play the Wynot girls, I couldn’t help but think about how fortunate we are to live where we do. A few farm residents complain that it takes too long to get to the nearest discount place or…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Ranch Renewed

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on June 25, 2012

    I thought the bare hills and the eroded draws along the Missouri River in South Dakota were just symbols of a tough country. But during a tour last week of the Mortenson Ranch near Hayes I learned that they are more than likely signs of an abused land. “This country was full of trees in the 1800s, until the government decided to put a family on every section,” says Clarence Mortenson, a Lakota from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a fifth-generation rancher who has been working…

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  • Tom Bechman

    What's So Good About the Good 'Ole Summertime?

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on June 25, 2012

    My mother didn't name me Thomas for nothing. Just like doubting Thomas, the disciple in the bible, I have to see the scars before I believe, at least sometimes. Once I believe, I can be an avid supporter, but I have to believe first. That's why I have earned nicknames like 'doubting Thomas,' 'pessimist; stick- in- the mud and on the list goes. All I think I'm doing is being a realist- trying to see the other side, trying to determine if the glass is half empty or half full. Maybe eternal…

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  • Josh Flint

    Sometimes You Just Want To Know If It Will Work on Your Farm

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 25, 2012

    University research is a terrific thing. Great academic minds take the time to limit variables and replicate trials over numerous years and sites. Still, after years of testing, it may not answer your one burning question … will this work on my farm? For this reason, I love the format of Beck’s Hybrids’ Practical Farm Research program. Led by Jason Webster, this team, which also includes Clayton Stufflebeam and a slew of interns, is out to answer that one burning…

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  • Josh Flint

    Sometimes You Just Want To Know If It Will Work on Your Farm

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 24, 2012

    University research is a terrific thing. Great academic minds take the time to limit variables and replicate trials over numerous years and sites. Still, after years of testing, it may not answer your one burning question … will this work on my farm? For this reason, I love the format of Beck's Hybrids' Practical Farm Research program. Led by Jason Webster, this team, which also includes Clayton Stufflebeam and a slew of interns, is out to answer that one burning question for their…

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  • Holly Spangler

    GMOs: They're Still News

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 21, 2012

    So, remember how I said I'd share more pictures from my nephew's wedding? Well. Given all the food talk going on this week, I decided to push farm wedding photos to next week and talk GMOs instead. I know, I know. Wedding pictures with tractors are way more fun. And I know, I know (again). We've been talking about GMOs in farm magazines for 15 years. This is not news to the agricultural community. But it's becoming news to a whole lot of our country. Even as Europe begins to take a…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Some Ethanol Stuff Suddenly Crystal Clear

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 20, 2012

    I had one of the world's most enlightening conversations today with ICM's CEO David Vander Griend. He was talking about why the auto industry is fighting E-15 and why it's reasonable that they are doing that. It is, Vander Griend said, not about the 10 percent or the 15 percent that the public widely understands is ethanol. It is about what the oil industry puts in the 90 percent or the 85 percent. What has happened, he said, is that refiners quickly figured out how to profit from the…

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  • Tim White

    Ending a Drought Takes Plenty of Ink

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on June 19, 2012

    Game on. It’s official. The Columbus Dispatch wrote a cover story that included the word "drought" this morning. It's my experience that other than actual changes in the weather patterns, the best way to get rid of a drought is to write it to death. As the Dispatch story notes, the worst drought in recent memory occurred in 1988. I was the agribusiness reporter at the Dispatch when that event, which I proclaimed “The Great Drought of 1988,” took place. I can hardly…

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  • Curt Arens

    Along with Death and Taxes, Drought and Hail Were Certain

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on June 19, 2012

    This growing season reminds me more of my days growing up in the 1970s, than the last few fantastic growing seasons. In those days, the only sure thing about summer was hail and drought, often in the same week. During the 1970s, part of our farm experienced hail about 7 out of ten years. That means that we became quite astute at predicting hail losses before a crop adjuster ever arrived. We farm in what has traditionally been oats country in Nebraska, where the vast majority of oats has…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Wow! Every Animal Weighs 170 Pounds!

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on June 18, 2012

    I couldn't fit into our livestock scales designed for pigs and sheep, or I would have. The first three animals we weighed the other day all weighed 170 pounds, and they all looked bigger than that. "Weigh yourself, dad," my daughter said,. "You weigh more than 170 pounds. We'll know if it's working or not." Thanks a lot Kayla. If I could have fit inside it, I would have, because by then I figured out likely something was wrong, and it would be nice to say I weighed 170 pounds again on a scale…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Big Show, One Focus: Hay

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 18, 2012

    Anyone who has read this column knows that I like a good farm show and I get to a few every year (being owned by a company dedicated to farm shows doesn't hurt), and when I can I enjoy a trip to the Farm Progress Hay Expo. Why? Let me count the ways. First, this show is focused on hay, forage and feed-making. And focus is a good thing when it comes to the rising complexity of equipment that farmers deploy for this important chore. Second, plenty of equipment is at work. This show may have a…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Big Tractor for a Big Day

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 18, 2012

      Guess what we did this weekend?! We had a wedding! My nephew, Matt, married his beautiful bride, Haley, just down the road from the farm in our country church. And it was only fitting that since he'd spent so many hours driving this tractor on the farm already, they take it for a spin after the ceremony. It was, in a word, awesome. Matt and Haley are adorable and they had a most beautiful God-centered ceremony which included colorful farm metaphors such as, "treat your wife…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Overheard In The Soybean Field

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on June 18, 2012

    The great thing about being out and about at farm events is the stuff you hear. At the Pioneer Hi-Bred International ribbon cutting for its corn and soybean research center expansion in Volga, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said that his trip to China was an eye-opener. On a 400-mile drive through China’s major agricultural province he and his group only saw four tractors. Everything else was being done by hand. And corn that looked as if had been spilled asphalt by a passing…

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  • John Vogel

    Time For Daddy Redux In America

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 18, 2012

    This morning, my wife looked up from her pile of weekend newspapers saying: “I’m so tired of reading ‘Father’s Day’ articles. Not one of them tackled core fatherhood issues that threaten the downfall of our country.” And I replied: “That’s because very few readers – particularly men – want to face their failures.” Unfortunately, America is paying a high price for downplaying the father’s critical role in raising up…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    New Immigration Stance Helps Labor Issue; Legislation Needed

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 16, 2012

    Some help for young people brought here as children by their parents comes in this week's announcement of a temporary pause in any deportation proceedings against these innocent young people. But it is just a tiny signal of a start, not the action that needs to be taken on comprehensive immigration reform. It's hard to believe that some people are hard-hearted enough to want to punish these young people for the decisions that their parents made up to three decades ago. I have been…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Dairy Farm Visit Brings New Appreciation for Milk

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 14, 2012

  • Holly Spangler

    Finding your Farm Passion in Work and Life

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 13, 2012

    My family and I led our show calves last night under the setting sun, with three generations represented and the occasional barn cat trickling out to see what was up. The weather was gorgeous, the calves did well, Jenna regained some confidence. And it struck me, as we turned the calves loose and headed to the house: this is the life. It's the dream, right? For the farm girl from southern Illinois who really just wanted to show cows, to get to spend an evening at a 4-H meeting, then leading…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Wheat Harvest Exciting Stuff When You Are Almost 3 Years Old

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 12, 2012

    It was several months ago that I first discovered that Galen, my partner Dave's little grandson, has a love of big machines -- tractors, backhoes, graders -- you name it and he thinks it's pretty cool. He lives in Lawrence and recently came to visit. Since it's wheat harvest time, letting him experience a ride in the combine to cut some wheat seemed like a good idea, Sedgwick County farmer Mick Rausch was finishing up the last of his harvest at a field near his home in Garden Plain; a field…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Most Hoosiers Ready For A Rain Dance

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on June 11, 2012

    How can you not like a place where the high might be 90 in late March and 65 on June 1, or where it might rain three inches over two weeks when you don't need rain in the winter, and not rain for three weeks in the summer when you do need rain? That's Indiana, and maybe that helps explain why Hoosiers are so hearty. The thrown-in- sentences in conversations that we could use a rain are escalating in to "We need rain now!" over much of Indiana. That's particularly true in north-central and…

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  • Holly Spangler

    White Knuckles and a Ringside Seat

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 11, 2012

    So, last week I shared that we were off to our oldest child's first-ever cattle show, which we happened to be pretty excited about. And you know how you read those glowing blog posts with sunkissed photos and reports of joy and perseverance and hard work all paying off? Well. This isn't one of them. I would say that our day at the Cuba Livestock Show was about as close to worst-case-scenario that we could get, barring any actual ER visit.   The day started off well. Nathan showed his…

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  • John Vogel

    Anti-obesity, Soda Regs May Be Fattening; Won't Help Agriculture

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 11, 2012

    NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to think that Americans can be regulated into slimming down their diets by reducing soda sugar intake. Problem is, he has a lot of company. And that attitude won't help anybody, let alone American agriculture. USDA and nutrition educators, for instance, swarm like ants to sugar pie over encouraging school food lunch programs to use more fresh fruits and vegetables. That can be a good thing. But they’re still not targeting the brain-to-belly connection…

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  • Curt Arens

    EPA Aerial Surveillance Brings New Meaning to "Fly Over States"

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on June 11, 2012

    I’m a Country music fan. From my days cultivating corn, listening to the radio from fender speakers on our old Farmall 706 tractor, I have always been able to relate to those tunes. Jason Aldean’s new hit song, “Fly Over States,” talks about the virtues of rural folks, the farmers who plant the seed. He talks about a couple of urbanites flying from New York to Los Angeles, chatting during their flight about the square corn fields and country roads below. They wonder…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Goin' Showin'

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on June 8, 2012

    The sun is pulling up over the prairie, and the truck and trailer have pulled out. Inside are a few head of cattle and the small, excited children. The youngest is still in bed; she and I will head out in a couple hours. It's a big day: the first cattle show for our oldest, Jenna. She has a heifer and a steer – Granite and Gus – and Nathan will show his bottle calf, Buddy. Panda (heifer, not bear) is along for the ride, to be shown by our nephew. Jenna has the usual nerves: will…

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  • Josh Flint

    NYC Soda Cap Is Based on a Flawed Premise of Food Consumption

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 7, 2012

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bid to ban sugary drinks that contain more than 16 ounces hinges on a not-so-exact science – psychology. The ban assumes if New Yorkers can’t carry more than 16 ounces of an unhealthy drink around, they will consume less overall. By consuming less, they will lose weight. As a psychology minor, I’m in no way qualified to speak to the reasoning behind this bit of mental trickery. But I will. I’m reminded of a funny conversation from my…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Marvels of Farm Technology

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on June 6, 2012

    This week I took part in a media summit put on by BASF, and while you wouldn't think a crop protection company would be having conversations about farm machinery, it happens. During a panel on the future and advancements in farming, Kip Tom and his son, Kyle, spoke on a panel that looked at what it really means to feed 9 billion people by 2050. The Tom operation encompasses 18,000 acres in northern Indiana, and they have land in Argentina. Kip openly says he runs his farm like a manufacturer…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    How The Cookie Crumbles In the Sugar Program

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on June 6, 2012

    I get razzed by some of my colleagues about the U.S. sugar program. They argue that the only reason the U.S. restricts imports is because the sugar growers in the Red River Valley and elsewhere spend a lot more money lobbying Congress than other commodity groups. Protection money, they call it. True, the political contributions might give farmers who grow sugar access to tell their story, but maybe their story rings true. Consider this: Cheryl’s, a $50 million mail order cookie…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Wheat Harvest Stalls; Adventure Beckons

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 5, 2012

    Most of you already know I'm a pretty enthusiastic grandma who tries to introduce her urban grandkids to life on the farm every chance I get. Never is that more true than during wheat harvest when a chance for a day of "grandma adventure" is becoming legendary in the family. A couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to introduce grandson, Lewis, to a day of meeting farmers and climbing on combines as we got ready for harvest. This weekend, it was time to take his cousins out for a similar…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Where Will All The Graduates Go?

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on June 4, 2012

    This year we probably attended more high school graduation parties than ever before. I stopped counting at about 10. Most of these were kids that I have worked with as a volunteer in 4-H and FFA activities. You can count on three things at almost every party for a high school graduate. First, the graduate will greet you - that's refreshing. Second, you will have good food to eat, but you won't know many of the people that are there eating it with you. Third, the graduate's life will be spelled…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Welcome Rain Creates Wheat Harvest Delay

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 4, 2012

    As a general rule, nobody is happy with a wheat harvest rain delay. The record-early harvest of 2012 is an exception. When widespread thunderstorms moved across the state on Wednesday and Thursday and high temperatures dropped from the mid-90s to the low 70s, farmers missed by the accompanying hail just breathed a sigh of relief and took a deep breath of fresh air. And those hit by hail ranging from nickel to tennis ball size checked the damage, called the insurance adjuster and drove…

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  • Tim White

    A Farm Dog Gets One Last Throw

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on June 4, 2012

    In the course of my 62 years I have had 13 dogs as companions to me and my family. That’s roughly one dog every five years. I can recall them all -- from Poopsie a shepherd/collie mix that was my sidekick from age 6 to 16, to our last two, Tizzy and Flash. A pair of yellow labs who I wrote about a little more than year ago, they were well known in the neighborhood because of their need to drift over to the local tavern anytime a thunderstorm was in the area. In didn’t help that the…

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  • Josh Flint

    Organic Segment Faces Huge Challenge: Economics

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on June 4, 2012

    Genius, revolutionary, innovative … no, I’m not describing myself. Rather, these are terms I’d use to describe Steve Jobs. Having read Tyler Cowen’s An Economist Gets Lunch, I’m even more impressed at Jobs’ accomplishments. Cowen points out numerous times that the customer drives a restaurant’s menu as much as the chef. If a menu is filled with deep-fried offerings in the middle of a health-conscious community, demand will likely suffer. Either the…

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  • Curt Arens

    Farm Turf Management Is Not My Thing

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on June 3, 2012

    I have never won a “best lawn” contest. I’m a tree guy. I like cottonwood, hackberry, oak, maple and walnut. I like the leaves above my head. My lawn is an afterthought. My wife mentions in dismay something about being thankful we live on a farm where we are the only ones that have to look at our lawn. It is neglected, by most suburban standards. My brother, who has spent a good share of his professional life in the lawn care business, gratefully keeps to himself when he…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Wheat Fields Dot Landscape Amidst City Growth

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 3, 2012

    Driving from the sprawling wheat fields of west-central and western Kansas home into Wichita gave me a unique sense of just how much, little by little, the city is nibbling away at the wide open spaces of Sedgwick County. I can clearly remember when I first moved to Wichita in 1990 how quickly I left the city behind when I headed out 21st Street toward Cheney Reservoir. Maize Road was the edge of the country; 119th and 135th Streets were gravel roads. Today, Wichita's sprawl is evident as…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Wheat Looking Good as Friends Tackle Harvest

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 2, 2012

    Lawrence Weber is pretty confident that he has good wheat this year. "I'm 76 years old and I think this may just be the best wheat I've ever raised," the Sedgwick County farmer said as he took a break to dump a load of wheat from the combine into a waiting grain cart. "This field is kind of slow cutting because it lodged a little and I'm having to go pretty low to pick up the heads." Weber said his wife has been too busy keeping up with the harvest in a pair of farm trucks to compile the…

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  • John Vogel

    NYC Mayor Bloomberg Brain Unplugged On Soda Ban

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on June 1, 2012

    I once thought that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was a smart man. I guess he’s not as savvy as I thought. His latest blooper dropped him into Vice President Biden’s category. Some politicians will say anything to gain votes. But in this case, he has lost his mind to political correctness and it’ll cost him votes. What did he do?! On Wednesday, Bloomberg proposed a NYC ban on the sale of large sugary drinks. You have to wonder who hyped him on caffeine to spout…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Earliest Wheat Harvest In Memory

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on June 1, 2012

    Sedgwick County farm wife Virginia Smarsh says she has been amazed at how early the wheat crop on the farm she works with her husband, Alan, is ready for harvest. "My dad died this month, He was 95 and he told me the earliest he ever remembered cutting wheat was June 6," she said. "But its ready and it's looking good -- probably the best we have had in at least a couple of years." That's in spite of the fact that they didn't apply fungicide to combat this year's heavy infestation of rust…

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