• P.J. Griekspoor

    Dust, Dry Wheat, Tiny Spark Spell Tragedy

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 31, 2012

    Dale and Dawn Hartman were elated to finish wheat harvest early Monday afternoon -- plenty of time, they thought, to get the boat ready and head to the lake for the end of the Memorial Day holiday. But it didn't quite work out that way. "We had repaired a fuel leak earlier today," she said, standing in the still smoking ashes of what had been straw and stubble just hours earlier. We had just finished cutting and we were cleaning up. Dale was blowing dirt off the combine and something…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Corn, Beans and the Wild Kingdom

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 30, 2012

    I'm having two semi-unrelated thoughts today. First, I was just sorting through photos I took earlier this morning. They are of the farmer in his corn field, and I can't help but notice that even at 9:30 a.m. on a lovely 60-degree morning, the corn is curling up. This is not good. This past Sunday, following the Spangler family trip to Monicals Pizza, we took a drive through the country on our way home and man, was the corn rolled up tight in self-preservation. This was on the second day…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Down Time Part of Wheat Harvest; Still Frustrating

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 30, 2012

    Jim Stuhlsatz grew up farming with his father and he's been on his own for 44 years. That makes him no stranger to the challenges of harvest, but it doesn't make the frustration of down time any easier. "When it's time to go, I like to get right after it and keep going," he said. "Last year, I'll bet we didn't have 20 minutes of down time the whole harvest. This year, in just four days we've had probably 10 hours." Most of the lost time, he said, has been on one part of the combine…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Who Will Teach Vocational Agriculture To Our Kids?

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 30, 2012

    Key individuals in local communities have done such a good job selling the benefits of ag education and FFA that there could be more jobs than teachers to go around as early as this year in Indiana. At least two new programs are opening up, wanting multiple teachers. Other programs want to restart or expand, if they can find someone to fill the slot. Why the interest in vocational agriculture, especially only a couple of years after Governor Daniels sweeping education reforms didn't seem to…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Wheat Harvest Picks Up Speed

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 30, 2012

    Grain trucks outnumbered other traffic 5 to 1 on Kansas Hwy. 49 north of Conway Springs on hot, dusty Memorial Day afternoon, testimony to the fact that wheat harvest trumps holiday celebration every time. Farmers Co-op Grain Association at Conway Springs is one of the busiest elevators in busy Sumner County, year in and year out the top wheat producing county in the nation. Even last year's relatively poor, drought-hampered harvest in Sumner County topped 10 million bushels. At the…

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  • Willie Vogt

    More Signs of Farm Optimism

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 29, 2012

    Equipment Industry Analyst Henry Kirn, conducted the 30th survey of US. farm equipment dealers recently. Last week we ran through some of the numbers from the report talking about how dealers are pretty upbeat. This week a look at Part 2 of the survey shows that the industry is keeping a lid on inventories and prices are firming too. In the survey more than half reported that new product prices were "firming" while only 1% saw "weakening prices" that's significant to your buying plans. Whether…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Farm Soil Erosion Is Clear In Muddy Waters

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on May 29, 2012

    Over the Memorial Day weekend, I took three of my grandkids to the Buffalo River State Park, which is near our farm. The twins are 4-years-old and their brother is 8. We had a grand time throwing rocks in the river, catching frogs off a sandbar and wading in the water. About the only downside to the day was the color of the water. It had rained pretty heavily the night before and the river was brown with silt. The Buffalo River runs through some good Red River Valley farmland. But the corn…

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  • Josh Flint

    Life As a Digital Native

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 29, 2012

    During last week’s company meeting, a presenter explained to the group that folks born in 1980 and after are “digital natives.” That is, these folks have a tough time remembering life before computers. The Flint family entered the computer era in 1987. I was five years old. My sister was barely one. It was an IBM compatible. I honestly can’t remember the specific brand. I do remember there was no Windows. The operating system was MS-DOS. The power switch was on…

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  • Curt Arens

    Farmers and Ranchers Have Always Been Patriots

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 28, 2012

    Originally known as Decoration Day, a day of remembrance for those who died in service of our country, Memorial Day was begun as a time to honor the dead of the Civil War. First observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, it has grown into a day when Americans remember the fallen soldiers of all wars. A few folks around our rural communities might recall Decoration Day parades, when veterans of the Civil…

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  • Josh Flint

    Pondering the Gory of War

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 28, 2012

    On a day such as this, it’s easy to get swept up in the patriotic images we often associate with war. A grandfather looking dapper in his dress uniform, Old Glory framed for display, or white gloves firing rifles in a 21-gun salute. For many in my generation, these images are how we understand Memorial Day. The majority of us did not go to war. We don’t understand how it feels to see close friends, many of them barely over the age of 18, die in an arena of combat. In 8th…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Isn't Organic Food Supposed to Be Natural?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 25, 2012

    It was back in college when I had my first brush with the realization that some people's food standards might be a little different from mine. Like when the girl from the suburbs handed back a glass of lemonade because, "It has a speck in it." "Really?" thought those of us living at 4-H House at the time, who'd offered up the lemonade. "A speck?" The girl was both horrified and disappointed that we'd offer her such a thing. And although we would've liked to have responded with a hearty "So…

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  • John Vogel

    4 Reasons For Older Farm Owners To Retire Earlier

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on May 24, 2012

    This week, our Farm Progress editorial staff engaged in an intensive conference to gear up our technical know-how to better serve you our readers over the coming years. Our bosses happily pointed out that our cumulative years of editorial experience and understanding of agriculture are unmatched. Normally, you might expect our egos to swell with pride. But the oldsters among us raised our eyebrows in suspicion – rightfully due to Boss No. 1’s next comment that went something like…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Early Wheat Harvest Is Rolling

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 23, 2012

    Wheat harvest has officially begun, says Kansas Wheat. Harvest, as it perennially does, started near Kiowa in Barber County when OK Coop took in 35 truckloads of wheat. The Day 1 Harvest Report from Kansas Wheat reported yields ranging from 40 to 57 bushels per acre and test weights averaging 61 pounds. In west-central Kansas, estimates are that a third of the yields has been lost to heat, high winds and drought. One field yielded only 29 bushels to the acre with test weights a little…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Farm Equipment Dealers Upbeat

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 21, 2012

    In agriculture there's always the "other foot" syndrome. When things are going really well we're waiting for that other foot to drop on us, cutting the value of a crop or hitting in some other way. Dairy farmers know what I mean (sorry). But for now in the farm equipment business, it appears that a lot of dealers still see good times ahead. In an ongoing dealer survey conducted by UBS Investment Research, it appears that not only do a majority of dealers see strong demand in 2012, they're…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Year Without A Winter Turns Into Summer

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 21, 2012

    Unless you lived in the Snow Belt, you might have thought you slept form fall until spring. And even then, if you lived near the late around South Bend, you only shoveled about half as much as normal. When you woke from your Rip Van Winkle nap, the calendar said mid-March, but it was mid-80's, setting records nearly every day. Some sanity returned but it remained above normal in April, just not so crazily above normal. Bu the die was cast. Plants and insects that rely on heat units for…

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  • Tim White

    Graduation Carolina Style

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on May 21, 2012

    Last weekend my wife and I attended the graduation of our youngest daughter Allie at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. From 400 miles away you may have felt of bit of wind or heard a murmur that was our sigh of relief. The third and last offspring is finished and moving on. Although the sky was not that Carolina blue the university is so proud of, the temperature was comfortable. As we sat and watched the graduates, clad in Tar Heel blue gowns, streaming down to their seats…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Farm Rescue To The Rescue

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on May 21, 2012

    Ted Smith, an engineer at Sioux Valley Energy, Colman, S.D., took vacation last week to volunteer at Farm Rescue – the nonprofit that plants and harvests crops for farmers who have suffered a major illness, accident or natural disaster. He was planting soybeans at the Gary and Linda Mark farm near Ypsilanti, N.D. Markhad fallen from ladder and broken his legs earlier in the winter. Smith didn’t know the Marks, but was more than willing to volunteer. “Farm Rescue helped a…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Wheat Looks Dead, but Berries Are Filling

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on May 18, 2012

    Roger Brining hadn't had the nerve to walk out and shell out a few heads of wheat in his decimated dryland fields. After anticipating as much as 80 bushels per acre just a few weeks ago, he figured the crop was a total loss. But against all odds, when he shelled a few heads last week, he found tiny berries in about the the soft dough stage. "I'm trying to figure how this crop could possible be filling heads," he said. "Wheat is the most amazing crop." Brining said he has noticed…

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  • Curt Arens

    Bringing Young Ranchers Home - From Iraq to the Ranch

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 18, 2012

    Garrett Dwyer recalls the Iraqi countryside, from his days on patrol as a U.S. Marine. He says that irrigation trenches in Iraq were a nighttime obstacle to Marines on patrol. And he rarely observed any livestock in Iraq, except for a few sheep. Today, the young veteran has returned from his days in a Marine uniform, to work with his parents on the family ranch west of Elgin. For Dwyer, the return home and acclimation back into civilian life wasn’t always easy. But he loves the ranch…

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  • Josh Flint

    Ag Desperataly Needs To Speak To Consumers With a Unified Voice

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 17, 2012

    It seems my “Consumers Got Exactly What They Asked For” blog has sparked some conversation. While some agreed with my comments (actually they came primarily from Tyler Cowen), many were outraged that I would pit farmers vs. consumers. And, how dare I cast the blame on consumers? How dare I? Are you joking? These folks have been blaming farmers for everything from destroying the earth’s atmosphere with animal farts to maliciously abusing every hog, cow and chicken that…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Wait. Monsanto Isn't the Devil?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 16, 2012

    I got an email this morning that reminded me of a truth that just keeps popping up these days: life is not always black and white. This is neither rocket science nor a surprise, but I'll be darned if something doesn't remind me of that just about every day. Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's the phase of the moon. Maybe it's the times. I don't know. The email was innocent enough and was heartening on its own. It was from my friend, Doug Schemmer, announcing his last day at work and sharing his…

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  • Josh Flint

    How To Shoot HDR Photos on the Prairie

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 16, 2012

    During the summer, life on the prairie gets pretty warm. That big ball of gas is great for growing corn, but it can wreak havoc on a photographer. Here’s a new technique for the farm photography enthusiast. A bright blue sky often produces too many lighting variants for a terrific photo. For example, park the planter on a sunny day and try to take a scenic photo with a nice blue sky in the background. Unless you’re Ken Kashian, you’ll probably end up with a washed out sky…

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  • Willie Vogt

    More than a Birthday - Can You Say Sescquicentennial?

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 15, 2012

    During a speech by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack he commented that while things look bad today he looks back on the way things were 150 years ago. That's when President Abraham Lincoln created the Department of Agriculture, every farmer's USDA friend. While Congress is bickering over spending, and pretty much everything else these days, Lincoln and that forward thinking Congress created this new department. And it thrives today, more "nutrition program" than "agriculture program" this…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Detours In The Middle Of Nowhere Prove Frustrating

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 14, 2012

    I followed the directions to Gen Schmidt's house to a 'T'. It's about a three-hour drive form my place, so I don't drive in that country every day. But I was on the county road I knew I was supposed to be on. Suddenly I see this 'road closed ahead ' sign. That's never a good indication that things are going to turn out well. Not knowing exactly how far up the road he lives, I kept going. Sure enough, a few feet before a railroad track, with nowhere to run left or right, were two road closed…

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  • Curt Arens

    Bringing Young Farmers Home - The Attraction of Ag Tech

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 14, 2012

    When Plainview native, Brandon Christiansen, was sitting in the classroom during his Senior year of high school, he had no desire to return to the farm. Although he grew up helping his father, Rick, he didn’t think the farm had a future for him. Rick says that he always believed his son would one day return. He recalls the days when young Brandon would curl up asleep inside the door of the farm house, so his father wouldn’t forget to wake him and allow him to ride along when…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Crop Conditions Vary Widely Across the Eastern Dakotas

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on May 14, 2012

    I had an interesting trip around southeast South Dakota this past week. Heavy thunderstorms have delayed planting from Watertown to Huron to Madison. People farming the Vermillion, James and Big Sioux river bottoms were waiting for flood crests to pass before getting into those fields. I made it as far west at Fairfax, S.D., which just about 20 miles west of the Ft. Randall Dam on the Missouri River. They were busy getting their first soybean fields planted. Down along Highway 50, between…

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  • Holly Spangler

    We Get Letters

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 9, 2012

    There are many days in this job that are reasonably light and relatively normal. I make calls, I write stories, I take photos. I talk about agriculture. And the farm. And food. And livestock. Not a big deal. But then there are days when I feel the weight of what we do in such a profound way. I wrote here about my mother's death earlier this spring, and just shared that story in our May issue. And as you may know, Prairie Farmer is one of 18 state/regional publications in our…

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  • Josh Flint

    Red Meat Didn't Make Us Fat

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on May 9, 2012

    When Newsweek arrives in my mailbox, standard operating procedure has been to toss it in the trash on the way into the house. I’m not a fan of one-sided, liberally-skewed reporting. This week’s cover sucked me in. On it is a photo of a baby holding a huge thing of French fries with the headline “When I Grow Up, I’m Going to Weigh 300 Lbs. Help!” My past experience with this magazine led me to believe I’d find another scathing critique of modern…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Getting a Big Act Together

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on May 8, 2012

    What do you say about a company that for a few years didn't appear to be pushing its way toward bigger market shares? Companies fail all the time, but if you're the subsidiary of a global conglomerate with a solid reputation of production and engineering, failure might not be an option. This week my colleague John Vogel offered a report on New Holland in what he called the company's extreme make-over. Of course to admit that is to admit that the house needed remodeling in the first place…

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  • Tom Bechman

    The Cost of Technology Today

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on May 7, 2012

    My wife, Carla, opened the cellphone bill a few days ago and couldn't believe her eyes. It was $200 higher than it had ever been before, and it's already high enough that I gripe about it every month. That's because mom and dad are still supporting cell phones for four grown kids on the plan. Once they get jobs, that stops. In fact, the oldest has been told that once she gets a job, she can start paying all her bills plus a monthly stipend to us, just because. She's starting to think I'm not…

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  • Curt Arens

    Pumping Up Production on Valuable Cool Season Pastures

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 7, 2012

    Land prices are high. Real estate taxes are climbing. With record commodity prices these days, large numbers of cool season pastures have been turned over and converted into grain production. For farmers who have retained their pastureland, because of marginal ground or the need for grazing or hay, it’s important to get the most out of the grassland when competition for land is so fierce and the price of maintaining land is so high. I attended a cool season forages field day near…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Vote for Sherri, Farm Mom of the Year

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 4, 2012

    I met Sherri Kannmacher a few years ago, when she and her husband, Mark, were young farmer participants in our Cultivating Master Farmers program. She was thoughtful, engaging and eager to learn how to make their farm better. Turns out, she's a whole lot more and she's being recognized for it. Sherri is the Midwest region winner in Monsanto's 2012 Farm Mom of the Year Contest, and between now and May 12, you can go here, read her story and cast a vote for her. Sherri and four other…

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  • John Vogel

    Have Chesapeake Bay Watershed Farmers Done Enough?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on May 4, 2012

    Have farmers already done enough for the benefit of Chesapeake Bay water quality? It depends on who you ask. The question is sure to draw ire and fire from inflexible, die-hard environmentalists. They would vehemently respond with “No!” But this week, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced a very positive sign of bay recovery, crediting farmers and conservation programs. The crab-happy governor reported that Chesapeake Bay blue crab populations are at a 19-year high…

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  • Tim White

    A Snake in the Basement

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on May 2, 2012

    So this is not one of those stories my wife is especially happy for me to be sharing and it won’t help our home resale value, but here goes. About three years ago I was cleaning off the shelf that sits above the stairs down to our basement. This shelf tends to collect tools that I have brought from the barn to the house to use for various projects. Periodically it gets cluttered with these tools and needs to be cleaned off. As I am gathering the pliers and screwdrivers and hammers to…

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  • Holly Spangler

    HSUS: Perception as Reality

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on May 1, 2012

    Have you heard the one about the lawyer in a cage? 'Cause if not, you need to. There's a video floating around social media that squarely pegs HSUS for what it is: a lobbyist organization with a $32 million hedge fund that gives less than 1% of its donations to animal shelters. If you haven't watched it, please do; it's embedded below and it is well worth the 2 minutes and 19 seconds it takes to watch it. The thing is – and this comes to mind each time I think of HSUS – they…

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  • Curt Arens

    Farm Youth Need Good Safety Guardians

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on May 1, 2012

    Reading through the April 27 U.S. Department of Labor press release announcing withdrawal of a proposal that would have excluded young farmworkers from tasks deemed by DOL as dangerous, I couldn’t help but think of the days I walked soybean fields as a youngster with my parents. I hated those soybean fields, pulling weeds as a young boy, and chopping them with corn knives as a teenager. But, like so many farm kids, I learned more from those mundane, hot and humid days in the soybean…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Driverless Tractor May Debut In Valley

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on May 1, 2012

    You know how they say a picture is worth a 1,000 words? Well, check out the picture of the driverless tractor model called “Spirit” that is being built for use in the Red River Valley next fall, and I don’t have to write another word. The Autonomous Tractor Corporation, Fargo, N.D., will have two such tractors – one on display and one working in the demonstration field -- at the Big Iron farm show in West Fargo, N.D., Sept. 11-13, says Terry Anderson, the inventor…

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