Minnesota Children’s Museum offers little ones the Inventors Workshop

The Inventors Workshop from Chad Smith on Vimeo.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester, Minnesota, believes that children can learn to love learning at an early age. The Museum offers a program called the “Inventors Workshop.” It’s targeted at kids in their preschool years, which experts say are key years at getting kids started on a path toward successful learning.

The Museum sets up supplies in it’s art room, and children are let loose to create what they will. There’s no limit except how far a child’s imagination can take them. They are free to create whatever they like, using the scissors, pencils, crayons, colored paper, and other raw materials.

It may look like the children are just playing with things, but the parents.com website says it may look like fun and games, but there’s an intense amount of brainwork going on. Young children learn through play and creative activity, so as they assemble the raw materials into creations, they’re learning things like problem solving and physics.

The babycenter.com website calls play “the business of childhood.” Play allows the child free rein to experiment with the world around him, and the emotional world inside of him. While it looks like child’s play, there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes, including problem solving, skill building, and overcoming physical and mental challenges.

The Museum collects donated cardboard boxes, bottles, food containers, and different types of supplies throughout the year, and then reuse them for the art program. The Museum staff hopes visitors draw inspiration from the different exhibits and things going on around them, and will create something unique.

Bull riding takes center stage in Rochester on Friday night

Friday night bull riding in Rochester, Minnesota from Chad Smith on Vimeo.

Bull riding took center stage on Friday night in the Graham Arena on the Olmsted County Fairground in Rochester, Minnesota. Veteran cowboys jumped on the backs of angry, 2,000-pound bulls as they competed for thousands of dollars in cash prizes.

Bull riding has been increasingly popular in Rochester the last several years. After turning people away at last year’s event because of a complete sellout, MF Productions added an overflow room adjacent to the arena, complete with a large video screen and refreshments, in case of a sellout in the main arena. 10 minutes before show time, a ticket-seller at the arena entrance said, “We’re selling standing room only seats because so many people showed up for the event tonight.”

Friday night’s rodeo schedule featured some big, strong cowboys wearing pink rodeo gear. Friday night was billed as “Tough Enough To Wear Pink Night,” as riders and fans were encouraged to wear something pink to show support for breast cancer research. Event sponsors agreed to donate money to research for every person who wore pink to the event.

Mutton busting was one more popular event on the Friday night schedule. A handful of 7-year-old boys and girls put on helmets and, one-at-a-time, jumped on the back of sheep, grabbed handfuls of wool, and held on as long as possible while the sheep sped at breakneck speed around the arena. Each participant took home a prize after the competition.

Matt Forss, President of MF Productions, was busy taking down the equipment on Sunday afternoon, and said, “We’re already looking forward to next year, when the 20th annual rodeo event will take place in Rochester.”

The 18th Annual Pro Bull Riding Event is this weekend in Rochester

The 18th Annual Bull Riding Challenge is coming to the Graham Complex at the Olmsted County Fairground in Rochester this Friday and Saturday night. The even begins at 7:30 each night, with the doors opening at 6:00.

A wild, eight-second ride is all that will stand between experience bull riders and cash prizes. Of course, that wild ride will come atop a 1,200 to 2,000 pound bull. It’s guaranteed to be a lot of fun for the whole family to watch.

Matt Merritt is a veteran rodeo entertainer, which he said used to be called a rodeo clown. He said, “the bulls are legitimate athletes, and they have their own personalities. They’re amazing when you get a chance to sit and watch how the work.” He said, “The bulls have their own way of doing things and their job is to simply spill the rider as quickly as possible.”

Matt Merritt is a professional rodeo entertainer who will appear at a bullfighting event this weekend in Rochester (photo courtesy of Matt Merritt)

Matt Merritt is a professional rodeo entertainer who will appear at a bullfighting event this weekend in Rochester (photo courtesy of Matt Merritt)

If you aren’t familiar with riding, you may be surprised to learn there’s no saddle and no halter either. It’s much more challenging than that.

Merritt said, “The rider climbs on the bull with a braided bullrope that has a handle, similar to a bullwhip. The rope is wrapped around the body of the animal, behind the front legs,  while the cowboy grips the handle. The rope is pulled tight, which snugs the handle down on the hand.”

Next, the excess portion of the rope is held in the rider’s open hand. Merritt said, “The rope isn’t actually tied to the bull. It’s wrapped around the animal’s body, so the rider’s strength is what holds him on the bull.” He then has to stay balanced on the bull, and Merritt said, “It’s all the strength of his leg and groin muscles that keep him on the bull’s back.”

It’s a big challenge. “If the rider touches the bull with his free hand, he’s disqualified,” said Merritt.

Matt Merritt, pro rodeo entertainer, plays to the crowd at a recent event (photo courtesy of Matt Merritt)

Matt Merritt, pro rodeo entertainer, plays to the crowd at a recent event (photo courtesy of Matt Merritt)

Merritt is a veteran rodeo entertainer. His job is to keep the crowd entertained, and to keep the audience from realizing the show has come to a pause as they manage 40 bulls. “They’ll buck ten bulls in a section, and then they have to reset the bulls for the next ten rides. My job is to keep the show flowing with crowd interaction, humor, dancing, and keep the crowd from realizing the show has come to a temporary stop,” said Merritt.

He said the job has changed over the years. Bull fighting is no longer part of the rodeo clown’s job. “Years ago, when rodeo first started, there was one guy in the ring that did it all. As the sport has developed, bullfighting has become a separate job from entertaining,” said Merritt.

Merritt said he’s been in the rodeo business for roughly fifteen years now. “I started when I was about fifteen years old. I’ve been all over the country, and have gone to Canada and Australia as well,” said Merritt. “Rodeo was common back in northwest Louisiana where I grew up. I found a way to fit in and not have to risk myself quite like the bull fighters do.”

Overflow viewing will be offered this year. Folks who want to get away from the crowd or find a better view, you can go to an adjacent arena, to an area with concessions and bar service.

Friday night is “Tough Enough to wear Pink Night.”

For more information, check out the MF Production website at www.RochesterBullRiding.com. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to show support for breast cancer awareness. Sponsors have agreed to donate money for each person that wears pink.
Other events include a dance both nights, plus, don’t miss the fan favorite event Mexican Poker.

Teen MOPS is making better moms and a better world

Teen Mops is mentoring in action from Chad Smith on Vimeo.

 

Kids and parents were getting ready for the bi-weekly Teen MOPS meeting (Photo by Chad Smith/Full Sail University)

Kids and parents were getting ready for the bi-weekly Teen MOPS meeting (Photo by Chad Smith/Full Sail University)

Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is a nationwide Christian ministry, with a chapter at Christ Community Church in Rochester, Minnesota.  Veteran moms come alongside young, teenage mothers, who can find themselves in some difficult situations, and help them navigate the various challenges of motherhood.  Motherhood is a challenging job all by itself, but when teenage girls find themselves with children, the job can become very overwhelming.  The Teen MOPS meet every two weeks, and come together for a meal, fellowship, learning, and a MOPShop, where they exchange points they earn through attendance for things they need, such as baby clothing, food, and various other necessities.

Rochester Ice Hawks hockey season comes to an end in the playoffs

The Rochester Ice Hawks of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, Tier 3 Division, took on the Dells Ducks in a best-of-three, second round playoff series over the weekend.  The first game was Friday night on the Ducks home ice, and Dells won 4-0.  With the season on the line in Rochester the following night, the Ice Hawks needed a win to keep the season alive and send it back to the Ducks home rink for the deciding game in the series.  Rochester came out firing shots early, but couldn’t sustain the momentum throughout the game and came up short:

 

 

Cirque de Fun… Funding Futures for Little Lives

This gallery contains 5 photos.

The Kingdom Kids Christian Preschool in Rochester, Minnesota, recently found out it was cut off from any state funding because it uses a Christian curriculum.  The Kingdom Kids staff refused to bemoan the loss of valuable funds and possibly makes cuts in the staff and programming.  Instead, they put together a carnival fun night called […]

Rochester Honkers readying for 21st baseball season

Tom Hanks once said, “There’s no crying in baseball!”  The quote came from the 1992 hit movie “A League Of Their Own.”  According to Dan Litzinger, the General Manager of the Rochester Honkers baseball team, there’s no offseason in baseball either.

The Rochester Honkers turn 21 this year (Photo courtesy of silver tree.com)

The Rochester Honkers turn 21 this year (Photo courtesy of silver tree.com)

 

The team roster is full.  The coaching staff is ready.  The Northwoods League schedule in set in stone.  The Honkers are putting the final front office preparations in place for the season opener on May 27, at Mayo Field in Rochester.

 

Finding players

 

“We could probably fill out four full teams by November 1, with all the applications that come in,” said Litzinger.  That’s a big change from when the team first formed back in 1994.

 

 

In addition to the applications process, Litzinger said the Honkers coaches double as a scouting staff.  “Our coaches are college coaches, so they’ve seen players, and they’re seeing players.  He said they have a good idea of which players they’re interested in.

A close play at third base (photo from rochestercvb.org)

A close play at third base (photo from rochestercvb.org)

 

“We have relationships with college coaches all over the country.  They know us, so they’re calling and saying hey, I’ve got these two or three guys I want to send up your way.  They want to know what our roster looks like and what needs we have,” said Litzinger.  “Coaches will tell us we’ve always taken care of them, so they want to take care of us.”

 

He said they do call up coaches across the country and inquire about players that might be good enough to be on the team’s roster.  Litzinger said it’s “a lot to weed through as we try to put the best team we can out on the field.”

 

The Northwoods League

 

According to the Northwoods League official website, the League formed back in 1994, and billed itself as a league of “all-star” teams of college players.  Litzinger described the purpose of the Northwoods League in his own words:

 

He said the league runs on major-league specifications.  “We use wooden bats.  Our umpires come from umpire schools, so they’re trying to make the big leagues as well, said Litzinger.  “Everything we do mimics the minor league experience, so that’s how we prepare some of these kids to make the jump”

The Northwoods League requires it’s teams to use wooden bats to mirror major league baseball games (photo by usatoday.com)

The Northwoods League requires it’s teams to use wooden bats to mirror major league baseball games (photo by usatoday.com)

 

Ten years ago, he said the players would face a challenge adjusting to wooden bats after years of playing with aluminum bats, but that’s not the case anymore.  “With the recent changes in aluminum bats, the adjustment comes quicker,” said Litzinger. “They’re trying to make aluminum bats act more like wooden bats, plus more and more kids coming out of junior colleges across the country play with wooden bats now.”

 

Litzinger said the biggest adjustment is getting used to each other:

 

 

2013 season was rough

 

“Trying,” was the word that Litzinger used to describe the 2013 season.  The Honkers finished the summer with a 28-42 record, 23 games out of first place in the North Division.

 

“It was one of our worst on-field performances ever.  We got hit by injuries.  We got hit by the Major League draft.  It happens to everybody, but last year was especially difficult,” said Litzinger.  “We just didn’t mesh right away.  I thought we looked good on paper, but, that’s paper.”

 

The Honkers had several players taken in the June Major League draft, going anywhere from rounds 25 to 40.  Litzinger said they aren’t getting much money at that point when they sign their first contract, but asks, “How do you tell a kid no?  How do you kill a kid’s dream?”

 

“You want some of your guys to get drafted, because that means you’re signing the right kind of players.  You just don’t know the mental aspect of who’s going to sign, and who isn’t,” said Litzinger.  “It’s tough to replace that kind of talent in June.”

 

2014 season approaching

 

The Northwoods League teams bring in top college talent from all over the country, and Litzinger said the quality of baseball is outstanding.  “It’s a Division 1 conference game every night, and it can get to be a grind.”

 

“Guys have to step up their level of competition,” said Litzinger.  “How do you get through 72 tough games in a summer?  There are going to be slumps, and players have to decide how they’re gonna get through it because that’s what they’ll need to do in pro ball.”

 

“Players can’t be out until two in the morning.  You have to get up and you have to do your work.  Players have to eat right, and they have to get the proper amount of sleep,” said Litzinger.

 

He said, “All they have to do is concentrate on baseball, work on their skills, and have a little fun too.”

Fans young and old can attend Honkers games (photo from circledrivedental.com)

Fans young and old can attend Honkers games (photo from circledrivedental.com)

 

The Honkers open the season May 27, with a home game at Mayo Field in Rochester against the Waterloo Bucks, North Division

champions from 2013.  First pitch will be at 7:05.  For more information on ticket packages, check out the website at http://northwoodsleague.com/rochester-honkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping a weather eye on Minnesota

“Persistent.”  Not exactly the word many Minnesotans may choose to describe this winter, but it’s appropriate, according to Mark Seely, University of Minnesota Extension climatologist.

U of Mn Extension climatologist Mark Seely (photo from minnesotaalumni.org)

U of Mn Extension climatologist Mark Seely (photo from minnesotaalumni.org)

 

According to a recent Google search, the word ‘persistent’ has many interesting synonyms:  tenacious, determined, single-minded, relentless, interminable, and uninterrupted.  Seely said the reason all these words fit is it hasn’t been this consistently cold in Minnesota and the Midwest in a long time. In fact, the Minnesota Public Radio website calls this “the coldest winter in 30 years.”

 

Looking back

 

Seely said the interesting thing about this bitterly cold winter is, “it didn’t necessarily start early.  The winter that we know it as, frankly, didn’t start until the first week of December.”  Since then, Seely said the state has been in a deep freeze, the likes of which it hasn’t seen in some time.

 

“Since December, it’s been the coldest weather, by any measure, since the winter of 81-82.”  Winter this consistently cold is a new experience for many young Midwesterners:

 

Seely said the Midwest has had colder winters, but few that have been this persistent.  “It has been so consistently cold, we’ve had many of our observers report large numbers of nights with below zero readings.”

How this winter stacks up against past winters (graph courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS)  (photo from blogs.mprnews.org)

How this winter stacks up against past winters (graph courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS) (photo from blogs.mprnews.org)

 

What is driving the cold?

 

According to the Weather Underground website, a weather phenomenon known as the polar vortex may be driving this relentlessly cold weather in the Midwest.  The polar vortex is an area of very cold air that typically centers over Siberia and Canada’s Baffin Island.  A piece of the vortex broke off, and was forced south in part by the Jet Stream, into the Great Lakes Area of the US.

 

DTN Senior Meteorologist Mike Palmerino said “An unusual area of warm air over Alaska and northwest Canada pushed the cold air south.  They’ve had a lot of warm weather in Alaska this year.”  The polar air has pushed south in the past, so it’s not an unusual occurrence.

DTN meteorologist Mike Palmerino  (Photo from www.dtnprogressivefarmer.com)

DTN meteorologist Mike Palmerino (Photo from www.dtnprogressivefarmer.com)

 

Uneven snow cover

 

“I would say the eastern half of the state ended up with fairly decent snow cover that’s pretty consistent,” said Seely.  “However, the western half of the state, because of the high winds, ended up with variable snow cover.  In areas unprotected from the wind, our weather observers have reported seeing areas of bare soil in their farm fields.”

 

Seely said in unprotected areas, the lack of snow cover has allowed the permafrost has driven 4 to 6 feet deep, and that’s something, “We haven’t seen that in a long, long time.”  That means the ground is going to take time to thaw for spring planting in Minnesota.

One of the few areas where wild grass pokes through snow cover in SE Mn (photo by Chad Smith)

One of the few areas where wild grass pokes through snow cover in SE Mn (photo by Chad Smith)

 

What is ahead?

 

“The weather models are coming together and showing some moderation for the rest of the winter,” said Seely.  “That’s not to say we won’t have colder than normal days, but the sheer number of below zero days are going to go away.”

 

Palmerino said soils “east of the Mississippi River are in pretty good shape moisture-wise.  If anything, I think the main concern going into spring is that it’s too wet.”  He said “a stormy weather pattern and cooler than normal temperatures would definitely interrupt spring planting.”

 

Seely said the good news is the future models are showing moderating temperatures into March.  However, not all the predictions are positive:

 

Palmerino said it’s a fine line when farmers look to spring.  You want the weather to warm up and melt the snow, but not too fast either:

SE Mn has a lot of snow to get rid of before spring planting (photo by Chad Smith)

SE Mn has a lot of snow to get rid of before spring planting (photo by Chad Smith)

 

Here’s what it’s been like to drive in the Midwest this winter:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Bill is the first step for Agriculture in 2014

American agriculture leaped over a major hurdle with President Barack Obama signing into law the 2014 Farm Bill during a ceremony at Michigan State University on Friday, February 7th.  According to the New York Times website, the Bill was several years in development, but came together early this year, adding stability to the Ag sector of the American economy.

Dairy farming is one of many areas of the economy regulated by the Farm Bill (photo by Chad Smith)

Dairy farming is one of many areas of the economy regulated by the Farm Bill (photo by Chad Smith)

 

While it was a major hurdle to overcome, it was just the first in a series of hurdles the Ag sector faces as it looks to the 2014 calendar.  Agriculture involves a very diverse group of people and organizations, but there are some common concerns listed by many of the groups, even as they celebrate a new Farm Bill.

 

2014 starts with good news

 

Kevin Paap is the Minnesota Farm Bureau President.  According to their website, the Farm Bureau calls itself “an advocate for agriculture, driven by the beliefs and policies of it’s members.” He said the Farm Bureau has been working with lawmakers to get a new Farm Bill in place, and it was a long time in coming together:

 

Chandler Goule is the Vice President of Government Relations for the National Farmers Union.  The NFU website bills it’s organization as “United to grow Family Agriculture.”  He said the Farmers Union feels it’s a good bill, and says there are a lot of positives in the legislation for family farmers, including country of origin labeling for meat products at the grocery store:

Chandler Goule of the National Farmers Union (photo from newenglandfarmersunion.org)

Chandler Goule of the National Farmers Union (photo from newenglandfarmersunion.org)

 

Renewable Fuels still a challenge

 

According to the website ethanol-information.com, the Renewable Fuels Standard is a part of “energy legislation that would set a minimum number of gallons to be used in the nation’s transportation fuel supply each year, including corn-based ethanol and biodiesel, which is soybean-based.”

Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap (photo from twitter.com/kevinpaap)

Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap (photo from twitter.com/kevinpaap)

 

According to the Biotechnology Industry organization website, the EPA recently proposed slashing the mandated amount of renewable fuels in the nation’s supply.  Paap said that’s simply unacceptable. “The Renewable Fuels Standard is working.  We’ve got cleaner air; we’ve got more jobs, economic development, and energy diversity.  There are over 380,000 jobs just from ethanol production.”

 

Goule said, “The rug has been completely pulled out from under the Renewable Fuels Standard.  Big oil companies don’t want us to grow our own fuel, and they don’t want to give up their share of the marketplace.” He said, “Land-grant University studies have shown the price of gas will go up without an RFS.”  Rural America will also be hit hard as well:

 

 

Immigration reform to deal with

 

Beginningfarmers.org quoted a White House report on their website, saying, “Among all economic sectors, the U.S. Ag sector is particularly reliant on foreign born workers.”  Papp said, “Agriculture hires about a million workers a year.  It’s physical labor, and it takes place in all seasons.  We need the ability to find workers when they’re needed.  Crops and livestock won’t wait for farmers to find help.”

 

He said, “The current H-2A program is not working.  It’s too costly, there’s administrative delays, and it’s got very tough recruiting requirements.”

 

Goule said many folks outside of the Ag sector don’t realize how important the immigration issue is to agriculture:

 

A lot to do yet

 

Agriculture did enjoy a big victory, but Papp said there is still a lot to do yet:

 

Goule agrees:

 

Is OSHA guilty of regulation overreach on grain bins? (photo by Chad Smith)

Is OSHA guilty of regulation overreach on grain bins? (photo by Chad Smith)

 

Bob Stallman is the President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is the national umbrella organization for the Minnesota Farm Bureau.  He spoke recently on the Georgia Farm Bureau’s website about issues Ag will have to deal with in 2014

 

Southeast Minnesota farmers take a hit in 2013

The catchphrase is “prior planning prevents poor performance.”  In 2013, southeast Minnesota farmers found out that Mother Nature can have plans of her own.

 

Southeast Minnesota farmers saw a banner year in 2012, with the growing season producing bumper crops.  In 2013, farmers saw a complete 180-degree turn for the worse, and the area is still feeling the effects as farmers look to the upcoming growing season, when they get back into the farm fields that help produce our nation’s food supply.

 

2013 started poorly

 

Lisa Behnken is a Regional Extension Educator in Crops with the University of Minnesota Extension Office in Rochester, and she said 2013 saw a very slow, wet start to the season.  When spring did finally begin to wake up, the first problem area farmers saw hit the livestock industry particularly hard.

 

Lisa Behnken of the U of Mn Extension office, Rochester (Extension Photo)

Lisa Behnken of the U of Mn Extension office, Rochester (Extension Photo)

“The first thing that hit people was the alfalfa,” said Behnken. “We had a massive alfalfa winterkill.”  She said roughly 50 to 90 percent of a farmer’s acres died.  This alfalfa is a prime source of feed for the beef and dairy cattle industries, and farmers were in a tough spot.  Behnken called it the first “big, red flag of the spring.”

 

A wet spring delays planting

 

Behnken said farmers took the winterkill into consideration heading into spring planting, and rearranged some plans to include re-seeding of alfalfa, but here came the next challenge:

 

2013 was hard on livestock farmers because of alfalfa winterkill

2013 was hard on livestock farmers because of alfalfa winterkill

Southeast Minnesota saw a very wet spring.  Behnken looked back at the calendar as May 2 saw an estimated 15 to 20 inches of “heavy, wet snow” blanket the region.  “It turned cold, and the snow just stayed in the fields.  There was virtually no window to plant in the month of May.”

 

She estimated farmers saw a very small window to plant in mid-May, when a few fields opened up.  Farmers were able to plant a few fields of corn into the dead alfalfa stands, but there was still manure and fertilizer to get down on empty fields, and it was “a lot to do in a very small window,” said Behnken.

 

To plant or not to plant

 

May 31 was the deadline for farmers to decide on taking payments for prevented planting acreage, or to keep forging ahead to try to get corn in the ground, and it was a tough decision for everyone, but especially for livestock farmers.  Behnken said the livestock farmers “needed feed for their animals.  They had to plant.”

 

June 15 led to another tough decision for farmers – whether or not to plant soybeans or take prevented planting

payments to help cover some of their farming costs.  “Acres were still under water in mid-June.  It’s not like they were going to dry out if we had many sunny days in a row.  They were simply not plantable.”

To plant or not to plant?  A tough decision for many farmers in 2013 (photo from nebraskacorn.org)

To plant or not to plant? A tough decision for many farmers in 2013 (photo from nebraskacorn.org)

 

Livestock producers weren’t the only ones who needed to produce grain.  Grain farmers who had forward contracted their crops owed bushels to their local elevators.  Farmers who had contracts with ethanol plants had to come up with bushels as well for the plants to use in their production.

 

June fields were very muddy, very sticky, and “it was very tough planting conditions,” according to Behnken.  As a result, southeast Minnesota farmers were still planting well into July.

 

An aphid explosion in August

 

“As the weather began to change, warming up in the third week of August, we saw soybean aphid populations explode,” said Behnken. “It’s probably the worst case I’ve seen, in terms of numbers and the speed at which populations grew.”

 

Soybean aphids (U of Mn Extension file photo)

Soybean aphids (U of Mn Extension file photo)

“If you weren’t out scouting your fields and following good IPM practices when you reach the threshold for spraying, you took a big yield hit.”  Soybeans were at least two stages behind normal growth rate, and that made the hit even worse.

 

Behnken was at a field day in early September when soybean damage was at it’s worst, and saw many bean fields that were literally black in color.  “Soybean aphids defecate excessive plant sap, called honeydew, that drips onto the lower leaves.  A black to gray mold may then colonize the honeydew, turning the surface of the leaf a dark gray.  In severe infestations, the field will take on a very dark cast.  The mold then covers the green areas of the leaf, interrupting photosynthesis, and reducing plant growth.”

 

Behnken said some farmers walked away from their fields when they saw this.  “Some farmers began to throw up their hands, understandably, and say to themselves, enough.”  Several farmers weren’t going to put any more money into their bean fields, especially since it was planted late to begin with, and they weren’t sure the returns would make up for the cost of producing the damaged crop.

 

Better harvest than expected

 

Harvest was a challenge as well.  The weather was cool, which led to “very poor drying conditions in the field,” said Behnken.  She called it a very nasty harvest season.  “It was going to be late, which we expected because we planted late.”  She offered silage as an example, which she said was chopped six weeks later than normal.

 

To exacerbate the poor drying conditions, southeast Minnesota farmers had to deal with a shortage of propane for their dryers.

 

“Our yields were…okay.  For most producers, we were pleasantly surprised that we came up with an average

Corn harvest (photo courtesy of indianagrain.com)

Corn harvest (photo courtesy of indianagrain.com)

yield,” said Behnken.  She estimated the average corn yield for the area at 150 bushels per acre, with extremes on either side of that number depending upon how much snow landed on each farm field.  “A few fields in the area did go over 200 bushels, but that was the exception.”

 

Many soybean yields came in at roughly 40 bushels per acre.  Between 40 and 55 bushels per acre is considered a pretty good year.  There were extremes as well, with “some farmers harvesting only 20 bushels per acre off their fields.  Overall, it was a modest harvest, definitely not a bin buster.”

 

Turn the calendar

 

Behnken said the Extension Service is encouraging farmers to turn the page to the New Year, but not to forget the lessons learned from a rough 2013.

 

“Let’s learn the positive lessons.  There’s going to be a weed seed bank out there.  There are going to be pest issues because some spraying last year simply didn’t get done in time.

 

“Did we do anything with our fields that would cause soil compaction issues as we get set for spring planting?”

 

She said farmers in the area did learn a lot about cover crops, which could be very beneficial to soil health in the years to come.

 

2013 was a legitimately bad year for most, and she said “it’s time to turn the page.”