Mikkel Pates / Agweek Staff Writer
FARGO — A Fargo group has applied to the Small Business Administration for a contract grant to develop and create "the first 100 percent autonomous farm." The so-called "Grand Farm Initiative" is proposed to be completed by 2025, or in seven years, with the SBA funding.
One of the champion learners I've known in life was Ray Crippen, the executive editor of the Worthington (Minn.) Daily Globe. I was at the Daily Globe from 1979 to 1983 and had the opportunity to learn from Ray. He had a deep love for his 35-year run in the business. Ray was a single man but never isolated. He died Dec. 27, 2015, at age 85.
MOORHEAD, Minn. — Fallout from the bankruptcy of a sugar beet grower is resulting in an unusual auction beginning next week involving American Crystal Sugar Co. More than $720,000 in "unit retains" — payments once owed by American Crystal of Moorhead to insolvent farmer William "Bill" Sczepanski of Stephen, Minn. — will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Bidders don't have to be beet growers or members of the co-op.
RAYMOND, S.D. — Gale Filipek was seeding soybeans on the Francis Hass farm on June 1, dodging 1.5-acre muddy spots while fields only three miles away were too dry. "We're pushing hard as we can to get it done," Filpek, 70, said. Seed was going in 1.5 to 2 inches deep because fields are dry, other than the mud holes. "Hopefully we get a shower of rain tonight." Hass, reached by phone on June 4, said seeding was likely to be finished by June 9. Much of the farm picked up a tenth of an inch of rain on June 1.
"You're only as good as your next story." This is one of the gems of "wisdom" I heard when I was starting out as "cub" reporter in the late 1970s. It was a cliche of the business, a statement mostly true but also with some unintended ill effects. I thought about this the other day as a young relative was writing a Facebook post about her travails as a freelance writer for an agriculture-related organization in South Dakota. She'd worked and worked on the story until it was 3 a.m., she said. "Been there," I replied.
CARRINGTON, N.D. — Post Holdings Inc., parent to Dakota Growers Pasta Co., has taken a step that could lead to a change for the private brands business that includes the iconic North Dakota pasta company. On March 28, Post Holdings announced it had filed a document with the Securities Exchange Commission for a potential initial public offering for its private brands business.
AYR, N.D. — Stacy Nelson-Heising and her husband, Dan Heising, are moving forward at Cottonwood Farm where they focus on an unusual crop for this area — apples. All of their apples will go through their newly-functional Cottonwood Cider House. They started an orchard in 2012 and planned the cider house in 2014. Construction started in 2016. "We're putting the finishing touches on it," Stacy said, noting it was a vision of her father, Charles "Chuck" Nelson, who died June 20 and had been one of the region's pioneering organic farmers.
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.
GLYNDON, Minn. — The Red River Valley and the region are seeing signs of another above-normal sugar beet yield, and the companies are getting ready for it. American Crystal Sugar Co. of Moorhead, Minn., expects to start pre-pile harvest on Aug. 15, while Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative will delay pre-pile harvest until Sept. 15 following two stinging years of overproduction.