Prairie Grains January 2024

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Issue 197 January 2024

Building Opportunities by Association

Read More MN Wheat Looks for New Executive Director Prairie Grains Conference Highlights SD Wheat Commission Makes a Move

Minnesota Wheat, 2600 Wheat Drive, Red Lake Falls, MN 56750

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SEIZE THE SEASON WITH WHEAT THAT’S NORTHERN REGION STRONG. To get the most out of your fields, you need wheat that can endure the region’s toughest challenges. Varieties like WB9590 and WB9479 provide excellent yield potential, standability and protein content. Trust WestBred® to help you get the most out of every acre. Now’s the Time. Boldly Grow. Seize the Season.

Page 2 Prairie Grains • January 2024


Bayer, Bayer Cross, WestBred and Design® and WestBred® are registered trademarks of Bayer Group. ©2023 Bayer Group. All Rights Reserved.


Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers 2600 Wheat Drive • Red Lake Falls, MN 56750 218.253.4311 • Email: Web:


Drew Lyon, Ag Management Solutions 1020 Innovation Lane • Mankato, MN 56001 Ph: 507.388.1635 Email:


Sydney Harris, Ag Management Solutions Ph: 218.689.5091 Email: Katelyn Engquist, Ag Management Solutions Ph: 507.508.1540 Email:


Kaelyn Rahe, Ag Management Solutions Ph: 507.388.1635 Email: Alex Troska, Ag Management Solutions Ph: 952.334.2539 Email:


Erin Rossow, Ag Management Solutions 1020 Innovation Lane • Mankato, MN 56001 Ph: 507.902.9191 Email:


Prairie Grains magazine is published six times annually and delivered free of charge to members of these grower associations, and to spring wheat and barley producers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. To subscribe or change address, please write or call our circulation department.


Prairie Grains January 2024 | Issue 197


Taming the Bulls & Bears: Numbers do not lie


2023 National Wheat Yield Contest: Minnesota, North Dakota farmers make the grade


Gathering of growers: Highlights from the 2023 Prairie Grains Conference

Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers and Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council 2600 Wheat Drive • Red Lake Falls, MN 56750 218.253.4311 • Email: Web:

North Dakota Grain Growers Association 2401 46th Ave SE , Suite 204 • Mandan, ND 58554 701.222.2216 • Email: Web:

South Dakota Wheat Growers Association 116 N. Euclid, Box 667 • Pierre, SD 58501 605.224.4418 • Email:

Montana Grain Growers Association P.O. Box 1165 • Great Falls, MT 59403 • 406.761.4596 Email: • Web:

Northland Community and Technical College 1101 Highway One East • Thief River Falls, MN 56701 218.683.8800 Email: Web:

Cover Story

It’s a new year in the wide world of wheat, and change is in the air. In this first issue of 2024, we travel the region to check in with our partners to get a glimpse of what’s ahead in 2024. Top of mind for Minnesota Wheat is selecting a new executive director. Story on page 8.


Farm family foundations: The Germoluses are active in ag


Call to action: MWRPC holding election, seeks Area 2 director


Lifting spirits: Farm Business Management marks 70 years of assisting farmers Correction: The “Height” column in Table 1 of the University of Minnesota Variety Trials from page 55 of the November-December 2023 issue was incorrect. The height should’ve been measured in centimeters, not inches.

January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 3

Clean slate Change is the only constant. This adage is a cliché for a reason. Seasons change, so does technology; and, of course, people change, along with our hopes and dreams. Things are always changing. Agriculture is certainly no exception – it can make one’s head spin pondering just how much farming has changed in our lifetime. Here at Minnesota Wheat’s headquarters, we are definitely primed to make some changes in 2024. We recently bid farewell to Executive Director Charlie Vogel, who left Minnesota Wheat late last year for a new career to help grow fundraising efforts for St. Bernard’s Catholic Church and School in Thief River Falls – not too far from our offices. We thank Charlie for his years of service to our organization and our state’s wheat farmers and wish him nothing but the best in his new professional pursuits. We are proud of the strides we made as an organization during Charlie’s tenure and are excited for the next chapter in Minnesota Wheat’s nearly 50-year history. In the weeks and months ahead, we look forward to strengthening our strategic plan as we embark on a search for our next executive director. In the meantime, we are heartened that Coreen Berdahl, our vice president of operations, has agreed to serve as interim executive director as we undergo this staffing transition. New trends and industry evolutions were certainly on the minds of many during our annual Prairie Grains Conference. From cutting-edge research to market insights, our conference again served as the unofficial start to agriculture’s winter meeting season. We also enjoyed our engagements with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen and Whitney Place, Minnesota’s Farm Service Agency executive director. During our annual meeting, we debated and finalized our policy resolutions for the year ahead. We also received

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a legislative update from longtime lobbyist Bruce Kleven, who represents our interests in St. Paul. We’re planning to return to the Capitol for the annual Day on the Hill this March. Each legislative session is unique, and 2024 promises to be another year of mostly defensive positioning as a farm policy group. On the flip side, opportunities always arise. The entire Minnesota House is up for election in November, and there’s also a presidential election in just 10 months; thus, it’s anyone’s guess how the session will shake out. But you can rest assured that our team will work with both parties and keep you abreast of all our policy activities – through our website, social media accounts and the pages of Prairie Grains. As you’ll read in this issue, you’ll also notice our partners at the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council are making adjustments this year, as the On-Farm Research Network takes a breather to reassess and seek farmer-input on the next steps for our marquee wheat checkoff program. Given that our readership is spread across four states, we’ve gone to great lengths in recent years to transform Prairie Grains into a more regional magazine. To that end, we also check in with our colleagues in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana in our debut issue of 2024 to get a broader feel for the year ahead. As Minnesota Wheat begins a new year and charts a new path, we are grateful for our partnerships across the world of wheat. Together, we are making changes – for the better. Mike Gunderson farms in Bejou. He serves as president of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers and is a director with the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Numbers Do Not Lie

Betsy Jensen is a Farm Business Management Instructor at Northland Community and Technical College. Follow her on Twitter at @jensenbetsyr.

Winter in farm management means planning, reviewing and so many numbers, ratios and projections. How did we do in 2023? What is the outlook for 2024? What steps can we take to maximize profitability, and minimize losses as we close out 2023 and look ahead to 2024? If it can be measured, it can be analyzed and benchmarked. The chemical bills are confusing. The crop insurance indemnity is a mess of premium credits. Trying to find the tractor loan interest expense from the dealer financing is almost impossible. It is not easy to assemble and interpret farm finances, but they need to be reviewed. Every year I have a farmer who finds an error on a bill. When you break down expenses per acre, the billing errors become more obvious. Take time to review your expenses by the acre. Now move to the top of the column and start reviewing your income per acre. I rode the roller coaster of weather this summer, even though I know better. I created my cash flow and had a revenue per acre plan. Then we battled dry weather all summer, so I lowered my expectations. When it came time to harvest, I was happy with yields. No records, but we did great with very little moisture. While I was worrying about my yields, the markets did not care. Prices kept moving lower, and lower, and lower. I was ready to reduce my per acre income because of fewer bushels. Instead, I had to lower my revenue expectations because of lower prices. My soybean projections were close, but I was off a dollar in wheat and corn. We do not celebrate crops birthdays on my farm. There is not enough storage for one year of crop production, so we certainly cannot hold multiple years of production. The clock is ticking for my 2023 crop marketing. I have accepted that I am not going to meet my original revenue per acre target. With some forward contracts and decent yields, I will be close. I am doing much better than my hot and dry July projection.

Now I am creating my 2024 plan, and it is difficult to show profits. I am wheat’s No. 1 fan, until I look at the breakeven numbers. Looking at our farm management generic budgets, wheat is not profitable for 2024 at these price levels, and it is not the market’s job to give us a profitable price. We cannot negotiate with the futures market. All we can do is reduce acres and hope for more bushels or higher prices later this year. If you want to ignore wheat because of low prices, then you must sell corn and soybeans today. Those prices are slightly above the break-even prices. We have lower prices than we used for our 2023 projections, but corn and soybeans are profitable today. If you want to use the “can’t meet my cost of production” excuse to not sell, then you have to sell if it does meet your cost of production. I have reviewed many 2023 farm finances, and the lower prices are hitting hard. I am only beginning my 2024 projections, but the initial cash flows have been very tight. It is hard to believe we thought $15 soybeans, $9 wheat and $6 corn was not high enough. That was only a year ago. As you review your 2023 numbers and create your 2024 plan, I want you to have three numbers. Somewhere, write down your targets for the next two sales. To make life easier, place those sales at the elevator. Always have two targets active. If one fills, add another one. The third number should be written down and hung on your wall. It is your drop-dead number. May lightning strike you dead if you hold past that price. It can be $18 soybeans. It can be $11 wheat. Post that number somewhere that everyone can see it. There have been years that the drop-dead price was hit. Maybe 2024 will be one of those years. I would love to start selling wheat at $7 and finish at $11. It is a lot of work to create your 2024 plan and calculate your individual break-even price, but it is so much easier to farm with a plan. January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 5

FarmAusten family foundations and Amy Germolus stay active in ag By Sydney Harris Agriculture is a key economic driver in Minnesota. With farmers and their families paving the way, Minnesota has established itself as fifth in the nation for agriculture production. To recognize the farm families who are the heart of Minnesota’s diverse agriculture industry, the University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition Program “honors farm families from throughout Minnesota for their significant contributions to the agriculture industry and their local communities.” The program has honored Minnesota farmers since 1979. In 2023, Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers (MAWG) Second Vice President Austen Germolus and his family were honored at Farmfest as Norman County’s Farm Family of the Year. “It definitely came as a surprise,” Germolus said. “It’s nice for my wife and I to be recognized for the work we do in the community. It’s humbling at the same time to have people know that you care about your community and where you live.” Founded in 1883, the Germolus farm began when Johan Germolus immigrated from East Prussia. The farm has evolved from using horses, mules and oxen to modernday equipment using precision agriculture technology for tilling, planting and harvesting. Today, the Germoluses grow wheat, corn, soybeans, hay and barley. They also own a registered herd of British White cattle. “Farming isn’t an easy career to have, but it’s a fun one,” Germolus said. “I had to go to college to figure out whether I wanted to farm. I’m definitely glad that I am now.” Not only does Austen direct all farm operations, but he is also actively involved in many organizations. He is president of the Perley Community Cooperative, vice president of the Norman County Farm Bureau, vice president of the Norman County Corn and Soybean Growers and a member of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Austen’s wife, Amy, is also active in agriculture: She oversees the cattle operation, is secretary Page 6 Prairie Grains • January 2024

of the Norman County Fair Board, works as a poultry judge and is a 4-H volunteer. Additionally, she’s a member of the Norman Second Vice President Austen Germolus County Farm represents MAWG at events across the state and Bureau and country, including Prairie Grains Conference. the Minnesota and National Cattlewomen’s Associations. “Amy and I grew up with parents who were active in different organizations, which instilled the importance and value of being involved in us from a young age,” Germolus said. After graduation from the Minnesota Agricultural Rural Leadership program, Austen set his eyes on serving on a state board, and soon, the opportunity arose for him to serve on MAWG’s board. As MAWG’s second vice president, Austen works with the rest of the seven-member board to advocate for Minnesota wheat growers in St. Paul and Washington, D.C., thanks to membership support. “MAWG had always intrigued me, and I really enjoy growing wheat,” he said. “I like a lot of things about wheat except for selling wheat. Being on MAWG’s board definitely gives you a different perspective and insight to a lot of aspects of the wheat world, and commodities in general.” Austen and Amy are the fifth generation to operate the Germolus Farm and hope to pass it on to the next generation – their sons Oden, Thorin and Ronan. “Our boys love being on the farm and all our youngest ever talks about is combines and tractors,” Germolus said. “So, the hope is that one day we’ll pass it on to them. For most farm families, it’s the hope and the plan for the next generation to take the reins and make farming their lifestyle and career.”

‘Quite the Honor’ MAWG member named top young farmer By Mark Askelson Fifth-generation farmer Rachel Arneson of Norman County has been selected as one of the 2024 America’s Best Young Farmers & Ranchers by DTN/Progressive Farmer. “It’s just an honor to be a part of this very elite group and also very encouraging to know the things I’m doing on my farm are being recognized,” she said. Arneson grows wheat, soybeans and sugarbeets on her farm in Halstad, Minn., where her family has farmed for the past 140 years. “With all our crops on the farm, it’s important risk management to have some good variety of each crop,” she said. Each year’s class of America’s Best Young Farmers & Ranchers are selected for their willingness to embrace the future of agriculture and develop the technical and managerial skills to build their own successful businesses. “Each farm needs to have a successful business plan and interest in innovation as they look to the future for what’s next,” Arneson said. “We always have to be learning and adapting as farmers.” Rachel also serves on the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association – Hillsboro District Board and is president of the Halstad Volunteer Rescue Squad. Her interest in being involved in the community, as well as the commodity groups, played a pivotal role in her selection as one of the five recipients for America’s Best Young Farmers & Ranchers. “Farming requires lifelong learning,” she said, “and as part of this group, I hope to soak up more information and apply it to our own operations.”

While Arneson has managed the family farm for the past five years, she will officially take over the operation in 2024 when her dad retires. “It’s quite the honor to continue the tradition of farming some of the very same land that my greatgreat grandfather farmed when he migrated to Halstad back in 1883,” Arneson said. Arneson has also been a member of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers (MAWG) since 2016, which she joined in support of the organization for how it provides resources and information for farmers. As part of her membership, Arneson supports MAWG’s policy efforts while also receiving free admission to Minnesota Wheat-sponsored events like the annual Prairie Grains Conference, which she attend this past December. “There is a ton of useful information and research shared at the conference that I can take back home to my farm,” she said, “as well as great opportunities to network with other farmers as well.” To learn more about Arneson and the rest of the 2024 class of America’s Best Young Farmers and Ranchers, visit the Progressive Farmer YouTube channel.

January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 7

REFRESH & RESET MN Wheat launches search for new executive director By Prairie Grains Magazine Staff As the wheat industry evolves, so too must the organizations that oversee Minnesota Wheat. That’s why the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers (MAWG) and the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council (MWRPC) are refocusing the strategic directions of the two organizations at the dawn of a new year. “We want to take our due diligence and make sure we are setting a path that best represents the interests of the wheat growers we serve,” said Tim Dufault, MWRPC chair. As part of a fresh direction, the two boards have engaged in strategic planning as well as discussing the shared executive director position, which is vacant after Charlie Vogel, who had served as Minnesota Wheat’s executive director since 2019, departed the organization effective November 2023 for a higher calling.

We thank Charlie for his time spent at Minnesota Wheat representing the interests of our wheat producers. We wish him nothing but the best in this next chapter of his life. “We thank Charlie for his time spent at Minnesota Wheat representing the interests of our wheat producers,” Dufault said. “We wish him nothing but the best in this next chapter of his life.” Vogel left to become the new advancement director for St. Bernard’s Catholic Church and School in Thief River Falls, Minn. “During his time with Minnesota Wheat, Charlie did an excellent job of building relationships with other organizations in the industry,” MAWG President Mike Gunderson said. “We are appreciative of his time with us.” Vice President of Operations Coreen Berdahl will serve as interim executive director for MAWG and MWRPC until a long-term replacement is hired. Prior to the Prairie Grains Conference, both boards met to discuss strategic planning for the organizations and set a clear direction for a new leader to implement. “It’s very important we’re all on the same page as we undergo a search for a new executive director,” Dufault said. “Now is the ideal opportunity to take a different look at how we can improve our operation, and we’re looking forward to finding the next leader to help move Minnesota Wheat forward.” The next executive director will serve as the principal administrator of both MWRPC and MAWG, collaborating and building consensus on direction for both groups in the checkoff and legislative policy realms. In this role, the next executive director will oversee and lead a small office staff from Minnesota Wheat’s headquarters in Red Lake Falls, Minn. The position will remain open until filled. Application review will begin Jan. 29, with interviews to follow. Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume and three references (electronic submissions preferred) to Minnesota Wheat Council C/O Mark Jossund at More information about both MWRPC and MAWG and their activities, along with updates on the executive director search, can be found at Page 8 Prairie Grains • January 2024

Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research Wednesday, February 7, 2024 - Alerus Center, Grand Forks Thursday, February 8, 2024 - Courtyard by Marriott, Moorhead The University of Minnesota Extension and the North Dakota State University, along with the MN Association of Wheat Growers, MN Wheat Research & Promotion Council, MN Soybean Research & Promotion Council, ND Soybean Council, ND Grain Growers Association, and ND Wheat Commission have joined together to present producers with current research information. In this workshop growers will have the opportunity to learn from researchers and extension specialists.

Meetings are free. Registration is requested. Register online at

PROGRAM 8:00 a.m.


Hands on Demonstrations:

8:20 a.m.


8:30 a.m.

Wheat Disease Management for Eastern ND and Western MN - Dr. Andrew Friskop, NDSU Extension, Fargo

• Roots So Deep - Dr. Angie Peltier, U of MN Extension, Crookston

9:00 a.m.

Pigweed Control (Grand Forks only) - Dr. Debalin Sarangi, U of MN Extension, St. Paul Herbicide Resistance & Pigweed Control (Moorhead only) - Dr. Joe Ikley, NDSU Extension, Fargo

9:30 a.m.

Spring Wheat Variety Selection and Management for High Yield & High Quality - Dr. Clair Keene, NDSU Extension, Fargo

10:10 a.m. Fighting Phytophthora: Combatting Soybean Disease in the Great Plains - Wade Webster, NDSU Extension, Fargo 10:55 a.m. Field-scale Analysis of On-Combine Protein Mapping in Spring Wheat - Melissa Carlson, MN Wheat Research & Promotion Council 11:15 a.m. Managing Nitrogen in ND and Western MN - Dr. Dave Franzen, NDSU Extension, Fargo

• Insect Defoliators - Patrick Beauzay & Dr. Jan Knodel, NDSU Extension, Fargo • Soil Salinity Effects on Wheat & Soybean - Naeem Kalwar, NDSU Extension, Langdon • IDC Ratings in Soybean - Carrie Miranda, NDSU, Fargo • Pigweed ID - Dr. Debalin Sarangi & Navjot Sinhgh, U of MN Extension, St. Paul 11:45 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Lunch and Hands on Demonstrations Lunch speaker: Ag Equipment Prices & Questions - Bryon Parman, NDSU, Fargo 2:05 p.m. Commodity Market Update - Dr. Frayne Olson, NDSU Extension, Fargo 2:50 p.m. Closing Q & A 3:00 p.m. Adjourn

Sponsored by: Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers

January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 9

National Wheat Yield Contest winners revealed By Prairie Grains Magazine staff The National Wheat Yield Contest announced the achievements of its 24 national winners, hailing from 12 different states, who achieved an average yield of 144 bushels per acre across all categories in 2023. Additionally, the National Wheat Foundation recognized the 83 state winners representing 28 states, with their remarkable yields averaging 127 bushels per acre across the various categories, including Winter Wheat-dryland, Winter Wheat-irrigated, Spring Wheat-dryland and Spring Wheat-irrigated. It is worth noting that some dryland category winners are determined by high yield, while others are evaluated based on their percentage over the county average. Producers from across the Prairie Grains readership area were well represented. North Dakota grower Brad Disrud earned the Bin Buster award in the Spring Wheat-dryland category, with Minnesota’s John Wesolowski taking first place in the same category. Exceptional resilience demonstrated by wheat growers stood out in the 2023 results. Despite facing adversity, with 59% of winter wheat production affected by drought on May 9, and 75% of spring wheat production impacted on July 25, these dedicated individuals have showcased their unwavering commitment to maximizing their wheat productivity in spite of environmental challenges. The entry

Winter Wheat-Dryland

deadlines for the contest, falling on May 15 and Aug. 1 for winter and spring wheat, received robust participation, defying the odds posed by prolonged drought in the central and southern plains, as well as the challenging conditions in spring wheat areas. “Eastern soft winter wheat areas had tremendous yields this year, and millers are happy with the quality of wheat coming from these areas. It is exciting to see the potential when the genetics, management and environment are all aligned in the wheat grower’s favor,” said Kentucky farmer Bernard Peterson, chair of the National Wheat Foundation. The contest not only emphasizes high yield but also places great importance on quality. The 24 national winners will submit grain samples for detailed analysis of milling and baking qualities, with expert panels assessing the wheat samples for quality. Outstanding quality will be rewarded with $250 awards at the reception, and these exceptional quality winners will be officially announced in mid-January. In recognition of their outstanding achievements, the national winners will be honored with a trip to the Commodity Classic in February 2024, hosted in Houston. The accolades will culminate in a special celebration at the National Wheat Foundation Winner’s Reception on Feb. 28, 2024.

2023 National Winners Spring Wheat-Dryland

Bin Buste r

Dick Judah


Bin Buster


Derek Berger


1st John Wesolowski MN

2nd Randy Eschenburg MI

2nd Lance Olson ND

3rd Kent Edwards OH

3rd Trevor Stout ID

4th Guy Gochenour VA

1st-% Over County

Austin Kautzman


5th William Willard MD

2nd-% Over County

Jason Signalness


3rd-% Over Count

Devan Laufer


Winter Wheat-Irrigated Bin Buster

Chris Gross

Brad Disrud


Spring Wheat-Irrigated WA

Bin Buster

Dallin Wilcox


1st Gary Reynolds ID

1st Jess Blatchford OR

2nd Nick Suwyn MI

2nd Jeff Bieber ND

Page 10 Prairie Grains • January 2024



Visit for more information!

January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 11


Council holding election, seeks Area 2 director

By Mark Askelson The Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council (MWRPC) will have two candidates vying for three spots in this year’s Board of Directors election, leaving an opportunity for a wheat grower to become more involved with supporting wheat producers through directing Minnesota wheat checkoff dollars. The Council will have two incumbents running for reelection in Area 1, but an open seat remains in Area 2. Area 1 encompasses the northwestern region of Minnesota and includes the counties of Beltrami, Clearwater, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Polk-West, Pennington, Red Lake and Roseau. Area 2 represents the central and northeast region, including Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Traverse, Wilkin, Aitkin, Becker, Carlton, Cass, Clay, Cook, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kanabec, Lake, Mahnomen, Morrison, Norman, Pine, Polk-East, St. Louis, Todd and Wadena counties. Board members serve three-year terms and must be wheat producers willing to serve as leaders and advocates for the Minnesota wheat industry and to work to improve profitability and viability. “Directing the wheat checkoff is both a great privilege and responsibility,” MWRPC Chair Tim Dufault said. “I encourage any of my fellow producers in these regions to consider taking the next step in their leadership careers and applying.”

AREA 1 – RHONDA K. LARSON Rhonda K. Larson, who farms on a fourth-generation family farm in rural East Grand Forks, is a veteran presence on the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council. Larson has more than a decade and a half of experience on the Council board and also sits on the US Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors, where she currently serves as past chair. “You learn a lot traveling all over the world trying to sell wheat,” Larson said. “Other countries want our wheat. It’s the Cadillac of the wheats, but they can’t always afford it.” The past 16 years of traveling the state, country and world representing MWRPC and USW have given Larson countless opportunities to meet people with diverse backgrounds and interests. Page 12 Prairie Grains • January 2024

“Through promoting wheat, you meet people who really care about what you’re doing, and you always learn from other people along the way. What are you doing that’s working? What are you doing that’s not working?” she said. “That’s invaluable information as wheat producers.” And it’s not just selling wheat to other countries that can be challenging. Larson says one of the biggest hurdles for Minnesota Wheat is selling local producers on how and why wheat is a viable crop option versus other commodities. “At least up here in the Red River Valley, you can plant just about anything as long as Mother Nature allows, but at the end of the day it comes down to what crop yields the most profit,” Larson said. “We need to continue to research new varieties to increase the profits for our wheat producers.”


Sitting on the Research Committee, I got to see firsthand the research work that the Council was supporting and conducting. I was also blown away by the staff and the work they were doing. - Peter Hvidsten

Research is the name of the game for Stephen, Minn., farmer Peter Hvidsten. The fifth-generation farmer studied plant sciences at North Dakota State University and worked in the agronomy industry before heading home to work on his family farm. “On paper, my dad is retired now, but we all know how that goes. He’s still helping out wherever he can,” Hvidsten said. “It’s very much a family affair.” Hvidsten is finishing up his first term on the Council. He had a slow start after being appointed during the COVID-19 pandemic and was forced to miss a few meetings. But Hvidsten was already familiar with the wheat checkoff prior to his election. Before serving on the Council, he spent five years as a member of the Minnesota Wheat Research Committee. “Sitting on the Research Committee, I got to see firsthand the research work that the Council was supporting and conducting,” Hvidsten said. “I was also blown away by the staff and the work they were doing.” Peter jumped back on the Research Committee after his appointment to the Council. Because research and agronomy are his forte, he happily volunteered to host research trials via the Council’s On-Farm Research Network. “Research is fundamental to what the Council does with our checkoff dollars,” he said. Recently, Hvidsten attended USW meetings, which has given him more insight into the national wheat checkoff program. “That’s been the best experience for me, to get to see what U.S. Wheat Associates is doing both nationally and internationally,” he said. “This last summer, I even had the opportunity to travel to Mexico for a Latin American Buyers Conference and got to meet some of the great people buying our products.” Looking into the future, Hvidsten echoed a similar sentiment as Larson: He believes the Council needs to focus on researching new varieties and increasing profits for Minnesota producers. “There’s a lot of competition here in Minnesota amongst the commodities,” Hvidsten said. “Whether it’s through breeding or disease control or other methods, we need to create a better yielding and better-quality wheat product to increase our wheat acres.”

AREA 2 OPEN SEAT An open seat remains for Area 2 following longtime Director Scott Swenson’s decision to step down from the Council once his term ends. Directors are elected to serve three-year terms on MWRPC, and the board meets approximately six times throughout the year. For more information, please contact Interim MWRPC Executive Director Coreen Berdahl at January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 13

NAWG applauds Prop 65 permanent injunction, supports Ag Uniformity Labeling Act By National Association of Wheat Growers There has been increasing concern among agriculture producers nationwide over attempts by states to require labels on pesticides that directly contradict scientific conclusions from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In November 2023, after nearly six years of ongoing legal challenges in a related case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that California cannot require unscientific warning labels about glyphosate, the country’s most commonly used pesticide. The National Association of Wheat Growers Glyphosate is an important tool for crop protection and is approved for (NAWG) led this critical case that acknowledges the use in more than 250 crops across the U.S. NAWG’s long-term advocacy fundamental role of EPA scientists to consistently efforts are helping to ensure wheat growers can use the product in 2024 evaluate and determine the safety of the products and beyond. America’s farmers use to produce our food. “NAWG members knew we had a strong case, and the decisions were based on the facts and science surrounding the safety of the product,” said NAWG President and Oregon wheat farmer, Brent Cheyne. “NAWG has been engaged in this legal battle as lead plaintiff challenging the California requirement for six years. California’s Proposition 65 requirement threatened the use of glyphosate by requiring false and misleading labels on products that may contain glyphosate. We are pleased to see this action taken today by the court.” In June of 2020, U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb for the Eastern District of California decided in favor of the Coalition by granting summary judgment and issuing a permanent injunction enjoining the warning requirement of Proposition 65 to glyphosate. The recent ruling in November will likely have a petition filed from the California Attorney General, which could lead to further judicial review and may ultimately go before the Supreme Court. While NAWG is pleased with the Court’s ruling on this issue, further congressional clarity is needed to protect the EPA’s science-based labeling authority from contradictory state laws and avoid similar circumstances from happening again. That is why NAWG is part of a coalition of more than 360 agricultural groups supporting the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R. 4288). This bipartisan bill reaffirms existing law and recognizes the EPA as the preeminent authority on pesticide labeling and packaging requirements, while still allowing states and localities to regulate the sale and use of these products wherever they’d like. H.R. 4288 would thereby assure American farmers that critical crop protection tools like pesticides, which support modern agriculture and our supply chain, will remain safe and available. The Ninth Circuit decision underscores the importance of foundational, science-based decisions on pesticides and the important role the federal government plays to ensure the safety of crop protection tools. To ensure the long-term availability and ability to use pesticides, legislative clarity is needed to ensure states cannot contradict the EPA and jeopardize farmers’ access to these tools, and our food supply and agricultural economy in the process. NAWG continues to educate lawmakers on the important role crop protection tools play in enabling farmers to grow their crops sustainably and why H.R. 4288 is needed to reaffirm the authority of the EPA.

To receive the latest advocacy updates from NAWG, subscribe to its weekly e-newsletter by visiting Page 14 Prairie Grains • January 2024


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North Central REC, Minot 701-857-7677 Williston REC 701-774-4315



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Spring Wheat • Soybean • Durum • �Barley • �Dry Bean • Oat • Winter Rye Flax • �Winter Wheat • Field Pea • Lentil • Chickpea

January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 15 ND Foundation Seedstocks • 701-231-8140 • • •

University of Minnesota Professor Aaron Lorenz gives an update on soybean breeding and genetics during the Soybean Reporting Session.


PRAIRIE GRAINS CONFERENCE 2023 In December, more than 700 farmers and industry professionals from throughout the Northern Plains converged upon the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D., for the annual Prairie Grains Conference. The show provided the region’s farming community a chance to walk the full trade show floor and take in the latest wheat, barley and soybean research. The two-day conference dug deep and featured a robust agenda with breakout sessions, keynote speakers and meetings, along with plenty of time for networking. The Prairie Grains Conference is hosted by the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, the North Dakota Grain Growers Association and Minnesota Barley and sponsored by dozens of farm groups and agribusinesses. We thank our industry partners and sponsors for their ongoing support of the Prairie Grains Conference. For nearly 50 years, this conference has helped set growers up for success in the year ahead. Let’s do it again next year! Save the date: Dec. 11-12, 2024!

Minnesota Wheat’s Research Review, which features wheat and soybean checkoff-funded research updates, was available for free to all attendees.

UMN Small Grains Specialist Dr. Jochum Wiersma delivers his report on Southern Small Grains Research & Extension.

Photos by Mark Askelson and Drew Lyon

Page 16 Prairie Grains • January 2024

During his breakout session, UMN Spring Wheat Breeder Dr. Jim Anderson gives his takeaways from the 2023 spring wheat variety performance.

North Dakota Barley Council Director Tony Schneider joins in applause while giving an update during the North Dakota Grain Growers Association’s Annual Meeting.

Unseasonably high temperatures brought a sunny atmosphere to the 2023 Prairie Grains Conference.

“It’s important for growers to gather.” Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen addressees conference attendees prior to Thursday’s keynote speakers.

“We’re finding ways to limit disturbance.” To close out the On-Farm Research Summit, Stephanie McClain (right), a soil health specialist with NRCS, gives a rainfall-simulator demonstration to show how water impacts different crops.

During a break at the On-Farm Research Summit, MWRPC Chair Tim Dufault (right) talks agronomy with Minnesota Soybean Research Director David Kee (left).

Betsy Jensen, a Farm Business Management instructor and Prairie Grains columnist, gives producers advice on marketing and saving profitability.

Prior to their annual meeting, leaders from the•Minnesota Association January 2024 Prairie Grains Page 17of Wheat Growers debate new and expiring policy resolutions, which serve as a policy guidebook for advocating in St. Paul and Washington, D.C.



Prairie Grains Conference typically begins each year with Minnesota Wheat’s annual On-Farm Research Summit, hosted by Vice President of Research Melissa Carlson.

On-Farm Research Summit yields data farmers can take to the field

By Mark Askelson Nitrogen rates, rock rolling and seed treatment practices highlighted just a few of the studies showcased during the 11th Annual On-Farm Research Summit, which kicked off this year’s Prairie Grains Conference at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Minnesota Wheat’s On-Farm Research Network (OFRN) hopes the data from those studies will yield more efficiency and better crops for Minnesota growers. N Rates on High-Yielding Wheat Varieties Following up a study that had unclear results in the first year, the OFRN team again examined just how much nitrogen was the right amount to maximize yields but not decrease protein and profitability of modern, high-yielding wheat varieties. The study applied nitrogen (N) rates of 0, 60, 90, 120, 150 and 180 units in five fields in northwest Minnesota. In the second year of the study, the data indicated that on most fields, the yield and profitability leveled off between 60 and 90 units. The highest profitability among all locations combined was at 60 lbs. of N. On one occasion, the yield and protein increased steadily all the way up to 180 units of N, but profitability was still highest at 120 units. Page 18 Prairie Grains • January 2024

Johnson-Su Bioreactor Seed Treatment Composting is a common method to improve soil health and yields on backyard garden applications, but could those same principles be applied on a much larger scale? Teaming up with the University of Minnesota (UMN) and North Central Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education, the OFRN team is hoping to demonstrate economic methods that create and use Johnson-Su Bioreactors on a commercial crop farm for use in wheat and soybean production. Just as in backyard application, the objective of the study was to determine if fertilizer could be reduced by using compost extract applied as a seed treatment or in-furrow at planting, as well as evaluate fungal and bacteria species diversity and quantity in the compost extract. “The analogy often used with this method is that when you put the whole biological community out there, you’re playing with the whole baseball team, not just a bunch of batters or just a bunch of shortstops,” said Melissa Carlson, Minnesota Wheat’s vice president of research. “All the different players, or microorganisms, are working together to improve your soil.” In this first year, the extract was made from worm castings to begin the study, and a microbiome assay showed about 985 species of bacteria and fungi present in the worm castings. The Johnson-Su bioreactor compost from bioreactors built in the spring of 2023 will be ready to extract for use at planting in 2024. Wheat and soybean seed were treated with the biological extract and tests were done in both Red Lake Falls and Crookston. Results were unclear in wheat and soybeans in this first year, but there was a significant yield increase at a third location in Red Lake Falls, with the liquid extract applied in-furrow with sunflowers at planting. Rock Rolling Wheat This study examined the impact of rock rolling on wheat emergence and yield, which may help determine if the practice could be utilized for growers with particularly rocky soils. Tests were conducted in Crookston, Dorothy and Red Lake Falls. The results of the study were relatively positive. There was slight yield increase at the Crookston location in 2023, but otherwise no impact on yield in the other fields. Soil sealing or crusting was noted at both Crookston and Red Lake Falls, which may have helped keep some soil moisture from evaporating during the dry seasons. While the sample size was small, so far the data suggests that there is little effect from rock-rolling on wheat yield. Planting Green in the Frozen North – Rye Cover Crop Termination Timing UMN Extension Educator Angie Peltier examined the soybean yield impacts from various termination dates of rye-seeded cover crops. While extending the termination dates of a rye cover crop can increase biomass, the study wanted to research just how negatively it could impact the

University of Minnesota Extension Educator Angie Peltier reports on rye cover crop termination timing during the 11th Annual OnFarm Research Summit at Prairie Grains Conference.

overall yield of the soybean crop. Trials were conducted at six on-farm locations and two university small plot trials in northwest and west-central Minnesota. In each trial, the cover crop was terminated 1-2 weeks before planting, at planting and 1-2 weeks after planting in either soybean following wheat or soybean following corn. A control strip without a fall-seeded rye cover crop was also part of each experiment. The effects of cover crop termination seemed to depend on weather patterns. For most locations, 2023 was a dry growing season; in those instances, yields were substantially negatively impacted on trials where the rye was terminated at planting or after planting. The best yield in those cases came when the cover crop was terminated two weeks before planting, or where there was no cover crop planted at all. However, in one instance during the study where the location received more significant rainfall, yields were not impacted by the later termination date. Also, because the yields for crops with no cover crops were very similar to those terminated two weeks prior to planting, the study concludes that planting a rye cover crop is less risky if you are able to terminate prior to planting. OFRN next steps While the checkoff-supported research continues, the OFRN will slow down a bit. Minnesota Wheat is currently seeking a new executive director, and a new vice president of research following Carlson’s decision to step down from her position later in 2024. At press time, Minnesota Wheat’s Research Committee elected to pause new research studies for 2024 but planned to resume the popular program after a new research director is hired. “We want to give our new executive director, whoever that may be, the opportunity to hire the best person to oversee our research program,” Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council (MWRPC) Chair Tim Dufault said. The Council hopes to partner with other commodity organizations in their trials, but they are seeking grower input on which studies they would like to see continue, along with problems they are trying to solve as wheat producers. “Do we want to keep continuing as is, do we want to go in a different direction? That’s what we are asking our growers,” Dufault said. “We want to build a more viable organization.” For more information about current and past research projects, visit and click on “Research.” January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 19



RISKS NDAWN expands to include Minnesota

By Mark Askelson The real-time scientific weather data that’s currently available throughout North Dakota will soon expand across most of Minnesota as well, and maybe even to your field. Along with historical weather trends and future weather outlooks, North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) Director Daryl Ritchison announced some exciting news during the 2023 Prairie Grains Conference about the expansion of NDAWN weather stations, with help from a partnership with the Minnesota Agriculture Weather Network (MAWN). NDAWN currently supports nearly 200 weather stations throughout North Dakota and surrounding states that measure air and soil temperature, wind speed, humidity, precipitation and other unique data that is relevant to agricultural producers. About half of those weather stations also carry a camera feed as well. The weather data is available for free to anyone via the NDAWN website, and mobile friendly via Thanks to a $3 million grant awarded to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) in 2023 from Minnesota’s Clean Water Fund, the same weather stations pioneered by NDAWN across every nook and cranny of North Dakota will be available throughout most Minnesota as well. In total, weather stations will be constructed over the course of two phases. The stations will be located roughly every 20 miles throughout the main crop production area of the state, which excludes the Twin Cities and northeast Minnesota. “This is the Agricultural Weather Network, so first and foremost we wanted the data available in locations where agriculture is prevalent,” said Ritchison. The reason for this expansion is to help Minnesota farmers make important decisions about their operations

Page 20 Prairie Grains • January 2024

based on relevant and accurate data. “NDAWN is a weather risk management tool. You can use weather data to decide when to plant, when to fertilize and when to irrigate. And we use the data to better predict the future,” Ritchison said. “Over the years, our NDAWN data has saved producers tens of millions of dollars every year.” MDA is currently taking applications for growers or individuals who would be willing to host a weather station on their property. NDAWN needs a space of about 30x30 feet with short vegetation within 100 feet and no structures within 300 feet. The towers, which cost approximately $30,000, stand about 33 feet tall and are intended to be in use for at least 50 years or longer. While it’s hard to find the perfect location, an ideal site would have the following: • Relatively flat, open acre • No obstructions (bushes, fences, tree rows, structures, etc.) within a distance of 10 times their height • No large patches of pavement within 100 feet • No structures within 300 feet • Soil common to the area • Not in a high spot or a low spot in the landscape • Not too close to irrigation, lakes, etc. • Accessible year round with a four-wheel drive pickup truck • At least one bar of Verizon cellular signal Weather station hosts would be asked to conduct minor maintenance work such as clearing snow off of solar panels and report visual damages to MDA. Those interested in volunteering to be a weather station host should visit www. for more information. To view Ritchison’s Prairie Grains Conference presentation, visit Minnesota Wheat’s YouTube page.


NDGGA lobbyist Jim Callan (right) represents North Dakota farmers by building relationships with legislators like House Ag Committee Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson (left).

By Mark Askelson Wins for barley and wheat growers during 2023 were highlighted during the North Dakota Grain Growers Association’s (NDGGA) Annual Meeting. The meeting was held Dec. 13 as part of the annual Prairie Grains Conference in Grand Forks, N.D, which NDGGA proudly sponsors. The extensive policy wins achieved by NDGGA in 2023 included acquiring funding research projects and facilities, a recognizable voice in Farm Bill negotiations and strong advocacy for North Dakota farmers. “There have been challenges, no doubt, but I’m very proud of where we’re at as an organization,” said NDGGA President Ed Kessel. One of Kessel’s proudest accomplishments as NDGGA president was the role the organization played in securing legislative funding for North Dakota State University research projects and facilities. “The 2023 legislative session provided opportunities for advancement in North Dakota agriculture,” said Kessel, who farms in Dickinson. “NDGGA was instrumental in ensuring funds for North Dakota state agriculture, research and extension capital projects and infrastructure.”

North Dakota Grain Growers making an impact in Bismarck and D.C.

The North Dakota Grain Growers, which was established in 1967, also had a large voice in the Farm Bill policy and EPA rulemaking conversation. They hosted Farm Bill listening sessions, invited ag leaders to participate in the annual E-tour with EPA officials and spent time in both Bismarck and Washington D.C., advocating on behalf of farmers. “We are at the table on so many issues in Washington D.C. It’s pretty rare that state organizations such as ours are working alongside the national organizations to discuss things such as Farm Bill policy and EPA rule making,” said NDGGA lobbyist James Callan, who was again named one of the nation’s top lobbyists by The Hill. “We should take pride in knowing our voice is being heard.” A big moment for NDGGA was finding a replacement for longtime Executive Director Dan Wogsland, who retired after 19 years with the organization. In July 2023, the search team announced that Kayla Pulvermacher would replace Wogsland as executive director. A native North Dakotan, Pulvermacher joins NDGGA after previously serving as CEO of the North Dakota Association of Builders. “Advocating for North Dakota farmers on both the state and federal

levels has been a passion for me, and l look forward to putting my experience and knowledge of agriculture to work helping our members thrive and do what they do best: feed America,” Pulvermacher said. NDGGA’s Annual Meeting also included updates from partner organizations, the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) and the North Dakota Barley Council. NDWC Administrator Neal Fisher shared that the 2023 growing season was a remarkable one, hitting the 50 bushel per-acre average mark for the first time in state history. “Those research projects that the NDGGA helped fund by advocating for more dollars at the state level are paying off big time with high yielding and good quality crops,” Fisher said. Barley Council Director Tony Schneider, who farms in Ashley, shared that growers in the region also reported one of their best crops in 2023. Schneider placed an emphasis on trade missions to develop new markets and build demand for the barley industry. Officer elections for the NDGGA board closed out the annual meeting. Cale Neshem of Berthhold, Barry Kingsbury of Grafton, Jared Billadeau of Ryder, and Blane Nitschke of Jud were elected to the board. January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 21

SETTING THE AGENDA Montana Grain Growers focused on advocacy, boosting membership in 2024

MGGA District 8 Director Franck Groeneweg of Three Forks, Mont., speaks during MGGA’s Convention & Trade Show in Great Falls. Photos courtesy of MGGA.

Advocating for farm friendly policy is at the heart of MGGA’s grassroots mission. To view MGGA’s 2024 policy resolutions, visit

By Cassidy Strommen The Montana Grain Growers Association (MGGA) is a grassroots organization that strives to improve the lives of Montana producers through collaboration, innovation and influencing ag policy. As 2024 begins, the almost 70-year-old organization is looking forward to another year advocating on behalf of grain growers in the state of Montana. In late November, MGGA hosted its 68th Convention & Trade Show, where members and partners gathered to talk about policy for the upcoming year and welcomed a new member to the executive officer team, along with a few new directors. Boyd Heilig, newly appointed president of MGGA, chaired the 2023 convention. After switching venues, the event expanded from 90 to 160 tradeshow booths and hosted almost 1,000 attendees. “It was by far our best one to date,” said Heilig, who farms south of Moore. “It was three days full of speakers and entertainment.” MGGA Executive Vice President Alison Vergeront returned from the convention refreshed to work with a newly elected executive officer along with MGGA’s new regional directors. She is also excited to expand membership this upcoming year. “It’s always exciting to bring on a new officer,” Vergeront said. “We are always working on building our network both on the board and within our presence in agriculture.” Through collaboration with other grower associations, MGGA was able to help host a “one-stop convention” for farmers who participate in agriculture in many ways. Working with other organizations has been beneficial to MGGA this past year, and the association is looking forward to greater cooperation. “We like to ask (other associations) what they need from us,” said Heilig. “It’s a great way to collaborate and work together.” In past years, MGGA has hosted the Montana Stock Growers Association at its session to discuss collaboration. Groups that MGGA partnered with for this 2023 convention included the Pacific Northwest Canola Association and the Northern Pulse Growers Association.

Goals for 2024 MGGA adopted five new resolutions and revised three current resolutions at the convention for the upcoming year. Most of their resolutions were focused on farm policy issues, but other resolutions fell under the environmental or taxes category. Because Montana doesn’t have a legislative session in even-numbered years, a key MGGA priority for 2024 is to bring a few of their own resolutions to the national association to advocate for Montana grain growers on a national level in Washington, D.C. Page 22 Prairie Grains • January 2024

Boyd Heilig (front center) is the newest president of the Montana Grains Growers Association. Past president Nathan Keane (front left) is running for a spot on NAWG’s Executive Committee.

“That’s how you get things done in D.C.,” said Heilig. “The national level has some teeth to it.” Another goal for the MGGA is to increase its membership. Currently, only 17% of the grain growers in the state of Montana are members of the association. Heilig would like to see that percentage increase to 25 or 30%. Membership levels begin at $250 per year (student rates start at $20), and prospective members can join online at Joining MGGA means supporting the organization’s efforts to advocate on behalf of the legislative interests of the state’s wheat and barley industries. “The return on investment is tenfold because we’re always in D.C., fighting,” said Heilig. “If we didn’t have organizations like ours, then the farmer wouldn’t really have a voice.” While increasing membership and advocacy on a national level are high on the list of priorities, MGGA is focusing its efforts on getting a new Farm Bill passed after a one-year extension was passed in late 2023. “The really big concentration for grain growers right now is securing a decent Farm Bill that works for farmers here in Montana,” said past President Nathan Keane, who is seeking the secretary position on the National Association of Wheat Growers. “The (Farm Bill) should last about four years once we get a new one in place.” In the next Farm Bill, MGGA is advocating for an increase in reference prices for wheat and barley, maintaining crop insurance at its current levels and doubling the budgets for both the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD). Statistics show that for every dollar invested in these trade programs, growers earn about $24 in return value. “These programs have been a big benefit,” said Keane. “It is a pretty successful program for our grain growers.” Breaking bread From late October to early November, Keane represented MGGA by traveling to Taiwan on a trade mission with Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte. Covering the country from the north to south, Keane visited with Taiwanese officials to promote Montana’s high-quality wheat. As the country’s population grows, the Taiwanese are looking for more ways to feed their 23 million residents. Taiwan has been adding wheat-based foods to their diet for many years and finds high value in Montana-grown wheat – so much value that they have crossed the threshold of consuming more wheat than rice. “They are consistent buyers of Montana wheat,” said Keane. “They have become quite the artists when it comes to producing some quality bread with the wheat that they purchase from us. It was some of the best tasting bread I’ve ever had in my life.” Looking into the future, MGGA hopes to gain more opportunities to advocate for Montana-grown commodities overseas when the opportunity arises. “When it comes to trips like this, it is more of a unique experience for the grain growers,” said Keane. “It was a treat to go and definitely something I would do again.” January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 23

MOVERS & South Dakota Wheat Commission


By Drew Lyon The South Dakota Wheat Commission (SDWC) made big moves in 2023. Literally. Last year, SDWC transitioned from its previous office in Pierre to new digs in Brookings. “It’s a beautiful facility and it’s going to serve us well,” SDWC Executive Director Reid Christopherson said. The South Dakota Wheat Growers Association (SDWGA), which works on policy on behalf of its members and the state’s wheat industry, will remain in Pierre to stay in close proximity to lobbying efforts at the state capital. “We’re two independent organizations in South Dakota, and we have separate leadership and structure,” Christopherson said. “It just made more sense for us to move since we’re not involved in legislative activities.” The move to Brookings offers SDWC a chance to be closer to checkoff investments the organization makes in cutting-edge research at South Dakota State University (SDSU). “Our real collaboration is with SDSU, and we’re right on the edge of

Page 24 Prairie Grains • January 2024

enters new phase in 2024

their campus,” Christopherson said. SDWC works closely with SDSU Associate Professor Dr. Sunish Kumar Sehgal, one of the nation’s most renowned winter wheat breeders, and SDSU Agronomist and spring wheat breeder Karl Glover. Christopherson said the organization is also directing checkoff resources toward soil health initiatives. “The (move) also puts us right next to the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association,” Christopherson said. “There’s an ever-increasing focus on soil health, and we want to push that.” In November 2023, Christopherson participated in the U.S. Wheat Associates 2023 North Asia Crop Quality Tour and met with buyers and industry leaders in South Korea, Taiwan, China and Japan. Christopherson spent nearly 40 years in the military but had never traveled to that region of the world before. “All four of those countries historically have been very strong business partners for U.S. wheat production,” Christopherson said. “Checkoff investments continue to make an impact in that region, and

it was interesting to see, especially in China and Japan, where some of their interests are.” North Asian customers purchase over $2 billion in U.S. wheat each year and were particularly interested in U.S. Wheat’s sustainability efforts. “(Sustainability) is certainly something we’re focused on in South Dakota, as well as of course the whole wheat industry,” Christopherson said. “I was surprised at the amount of conversations, especially in Japan, about what’s happening with sustainability. They are willing to pay for quality, and that’s what they want.” Calling it a day The 2023 winter and spring wheat crops were hit or miss throughout South Dakota. Christopherson reported some SDWC district commissioners reported no emergence in some of their winter wheat crop last growing season. “It was really dependent on who got rain and who didn’t,” Christopherson said. “We were really uncertain last winter, but surprisingly enough, the crop came through in good shape and most producers had what would

be considered an average yield, and that’s OK.” After an early soybean harvest, South Dakota’s 2024 winter wheat crop had been planted at press time. Christopherson remained optimistic that acreage had increased following reports of limitation on seed. Bryan Jorgensen, who farms in Ideal, S.D., is serving his second year as SDWC chairman and helps direct the state’s wheat checkoff program. “The South Dakota Wheat Commission fills a vital role in strengthening the wheat and cereal grain industries in South Dakota,” Jorgensen said. “The importance of utilizing the checkoff dollars wisely to enhance cereal and grain research, promotion and market enhancement, cannot be understated.” Christopherson is also excited

about the recent appointment of SDWC’s fifth commissioner, Jamie Johnson of Frankfurt. “She’s a really super sharp woman and a proven leader with a strong soil health cooperator,” he said. “We’re really blessed with five super strong commissioners.” After 10 years at the helm, Christopherson is electing to retire from SDWC in June to spend more time with his family. Throughout the coming months, Christopherson will begin the process of passing the mantle to the next SDWC executive director (a selection process is ongoing). He’ll leave with his head held high. “I feel good about where the Commission is at, and I’m very optimistic about future leadership,” he said. “It’s just time for fresh ideas and a new horse.”

South Dakota Wheat Commission Executive Director Reid Christopherson attends the U.S. Wheat Quality Crop Seminar in North Asia, one of the top markets for U.S. wheat producers.

Providing solutions for your success


747 S. Main St. Warren, MN 56762 January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 25

LIFTING SPIRITS Farm Business Management marks 70 years of assisting farmers

By Sydney Harris Farming isn’t as simple as getting in the tractor in the morning and parking it in the evening – though some growers probably wish it was. Today, farmers need to be skilled mechanics, savvy businesspeople, meteorologists and plant scientists. Not to mention software engineers with the amount of technology used in modern machinery and equipment. It can be overwhelming, which is why growers often call upon experts to help guide them. The Farm Business Management program (FBM), which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2023, is a key resource for farmers to make the best decisions for their operations. “We help farmers understand the business,” said FBM instructor Betsy Jensen, who raises wheat, soybeans, sugarbeets, corn and canola in Stephen, Minn., and offers her farm management advice in a regular column in Prairie Grains Magazine. “Farmers love to produce, but the business side is maybe not why they Page 26 Prairie Grains • January 2024

got into farming. I don’t have any production expertise to help them. But I do certainly have business expertise to help them understand financial statements so they can make educated decisions.” Founded in 1953, as “an educational program for farm people that will enable them to more completely understand the economic system in which they live and work,” FBM programs typically range from $200 to $2,000 (scholarships are available) and can also include online classes, group workshops and self-paced online courses. Over its 70-year history, the program has assisted hundreds

of farm families navigate generations of economic ups and downs. “Originally, FBM was formed because of the veterans returning from World War II,” AgCentric Executive Director Keith Olander said, “but then it really grew out of the Vietnam

and Korean War. It was a way to help them get trained postwar to enter into farming as a career. Now, we’ve moved way beyond veterans, working with thousands of farms and have expanded our programming.” St. James farmer Rose Wendinger, an FBM instructor with South Central College since 2020, saw the program’s impact as a young girl, inspiring her to pursue her own FBM career. “I grew up on a small dairy farm in Sibley County and watched my dad struggle through the 1980s and ‘90s,” said Wendinger, who also serves as Minnesota Soybean Growers Association secretary. “He started looking for resources outside of his lender that were going to be on his side of the table and found FBM. When our FBM instructor would come in, he gave my dad resources and ideas that would really lift up his spirits and help him continue on with the operation. It gave him a new outlook and an outlet to voice his concerns, along with resources and support. So, from a young age I always knew that I wanted to be that person for farm families.” For Jensen, providing the resources and expertise to the farmers she works with so they can make wise decisions for their operation is the reason she

keeps doing what she’s doing. “It’s rewarding to see farmers succeed,” said Jensen, an FMB instructor since 2000. “It really is. It’s an amazing job when you can help a farmer make an educated decision about their business. The farm becomes more profitable and can stay in business and it helps the local economy – it’s just very rewarding.” Changing dynamics With the farming landscape drastically different compared to 1953, FBM has remained a dynamic program and a constant ally for growers across Minnesota. “Through all these decades, the financial cycle that we’ve been through as a country and that agriculture has been through hasn’t been stagnant,” Olander said. “Think about the high interest rates of the ‘80s. And then think about the drought along the way. FBM has supported farmers and built their resiliency through it all.” To remain successful for so many years, Olander identified key aspects of the program that has made its success possible, such as their focus on farm economics, which has kept them relevant no matter the status of

outside factors. “The economics are there no matter if it’s good times or bad times,” Olander said. “During the good times, you’re managing taxes and acquisition expansions while in tough times you’re trying to manage how to survive.” And FBM isn’t a “cookie cutter” program – it’s individualized. “I love that every day, every farm has a unique concern and a unique problem that they don’t understand that I can help them make more educated decisions,” said Jensen, who shares her farm management advice in a regular column in Prairie Grains magazine. “One of the things that I really enjoy about FBM is that there is a big deviation of who is in the program – from beginning farmers to long-term farmers from small acreage to big acreage. It’s rewarding to work with beginning farmers to help them get started but it’s also rewarding to work with those long-term farmers when you start talking about transition and estate planning.” Today, FBM has grown to more than 60 instructors with seven participating colleges, but its vision remains the same: to “provide educational opportunities for students to be successful in a competitive agricultural environment.” When Minnesota growers need an ally to help them with economic decisions, FBM will be at their kitchen table ready to support their goals. “A farm is a business, and the business is dynamic and always changing,” Olander said. “The markets change, the weather changes, the needs of the family change. Life happens. If that business remains stagnant, they might not survive. That’s what FBM is here for – to guide them through.” January 2024 • Prairie Grains Page 27

‘Stepping up’: Gov. Walz celebrates MAWQCP’s million-acre milestone In November 2023, Gov. Tim Walz celebrated the Minnesota farmers and landowners who have enrolled 1 million acres in the voluntary Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP), achieving a goal Gov. Walz set in December 2020. The governor made the announcement at the Altura farm of Eric Heins. Heins represents one of the over 1,400 farmers who’ve become certified since the program began in 2014. “This program ensures our lakes, rivers and drinking water are protected for future generations,” Gov. Walz said. “Farmers understand the need for this better than anyone – their bottom line depends on conservation and a stable climate. Our farmers are stewards of our natural resources, and they’re stepping up in a big way to implement sustainable practices that will protect the water, land, and community around them.” The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA), which has supported the program since the beginning, was represented at the event by Executive Director Joe Smentek. Directors from both MSGA and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council are enrolled in the MAWQCP. “It was a pleasure to attend the event and visit with Gov. Walz and (MDA) Commissioner (Thom) Petersen,” Smentek said. “This program shows that when we all work toward a common goal, we can make a positive impact on soil health.” The MAWQCP is a voluntary program for farmers and

Eric Heins (far left) is honored by Gov. Tim Walz (second to right). and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture during an event at Heins’ farm in Altura celebrating 1 million enrolled acres of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program.

Page 28 Prairie Grains • January 2024

landowners that protects the state’s water resources. To date, Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality certified farms have added over 2,700 new conservation practices that protect Minnesota’s waters. Those new practices have kept nearly 48,000 tons of sediment out of Minnesota rivers while saving 141,000 tons of soil and 59,000 pounds of phosphorous on farms each year. The conservation practices have also reduced nitrogen loss up to 49% and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50,000 tons per year. “We’re excited to hit this million-acre milestone and recognize all the farmers and landowners that have stepped up to become part of the Ag Water Quality Certification Program,” Commissioner Petersen said. “This is a unique program that allows farmers to highlight their conservation work, get access to funding assistance, and ensure they are compliant with the latest regulations. I encourage farmers and landowners to look into the advantages of certifying their land.” The MAWQCP puts farmers in touch with local conservation district experts to identify and mitigate any risks their farm poses to water quality. Producers going through the certification process have priority access to financial assistance. After being certified, each farm is deemed in compliance with new water quality laws and regulations for 10 years. “I can’t think of an area in Minnesota where water quality could be more important than right here on the bluffs above the Mississippi River,” said Eric Heins, whose Circle H Farm specializes in grass-fed beef. “When farming in an area where any excess water runs directly to a stream or river, we have to be sure that the water is as clean as possible if it leaves our farm. The Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program helps us do that.” There are also extra endorsements available to water quality certified producers for climate smart practices, integrated pest management, irrigation, soil health and wildlife. These endorsements celebrate farmers and landowners who are going above and beyond to implement conservation efforts on their land. Farmers and landowners interested in becoming water quality certified can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or visit

IT’S NOT JUST YOUR LAND. IT’S YOUR LEGACY. The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program rewards farmers like you for what you do best, taking care of your land and its natural resources. To get started and learn more, contact your local soil and water conservation district or go to:

January 2024- •Soybean Prairie Grains Page- 29 JANUARY - FEBRUARY - 2024 Business 29

ACROSS THE PRAIRIE By Prairie Grains Magazine staff

Enrollment opens for 2024 Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs The USDA announced that agricultural producers can now enroll in the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2024 crop year. Producers can now enroll and make election changes for the 2024 crop year. The deadline to complete enrollment and any election change is March 15, 2024. In November 2023, President Biden signed into law H.R. 6363, the Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024 (Pub. L. 118-22), which extended the 2018 Farm Bill, through Sept. 30, 2024. This extension allows authorized programs, including ARC and PLC, to continue operating. “Having the Farm Bill extension in place means business as usual for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage program implementation for the 2024 crop year – nothing has changed from previous years,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “These programs provide critical financial protections against commodity market volatilities for many American farmers so don’t delay enrollment. Avoid the rush and contact your local FSA office for an appointment because even if you are not changing your program election for 2024, you still need to sign a contract to enroll.” To learn more, visit NAWG holding Winter Conference The National Association of Wheat Growers is holding its Winter Conference Jan. 23-26 in Washington D.C. Key events will be the NAWG committee and board meetings, Capitol Hill visits and Wheat 101, an educational event put on by the National Wheat Foundation. NAWG committees meet to discuss ongoing policy and hear from a broad range of speakers engaged in policymaking at the federal level and from key industry stakeholders. Trade, transportation, budgeting and planning for the future

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– these topics and more are tackled during the NAWG/ U.S. Wheat Associates Joint Winter Board Meeting. Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana each have farmer leaders representing their respective states on NAWG. In total, 20 state wheat grower organizations support NAWG’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C. Research proposals sought by Montana Alfalfa Seed Committee The Montana Alfalfa Seed Committee is seeking proposals for demonstration projects, applied research, and market development projects designed to address needs and opportunities for Montana’s alfalfa seed industry. The Montana Alfalfa Seed Committee will review all proposals at the first regular meeting of the year and make recommendations to the department for funding. To qualify, proposals must have practical, near-term application involving practices or organizational arrangements that will stimulate and expand the alfalfa seed industry. Proposals must be submitted through the WebGrants system by 5:00 p.m. MST on Jan. 31, 2024. Please visit the Alfalfa Seed Committee Page for a complete list of guidelines and eligibility requirements. Questions on applications should be directed to Dani Jones at (406) 444-2402 or via email at NDSU Extension schedules Stop the Bleed trainings Seconds matter in rural injury incidents or medical emergencies, and the time it takes first responders to travel to an injured person can be critical to survival. To help reduce deaths caused by unintentional injury, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension and the NDSU School of Nursing are partnering to offer free, Stop the Bleed training for residents of rural communities across North Dakota. Nursing faculty will travel to North Dakota counties and work with NDSU Extension agents to conduct the trainings. Stop the Bleed is a nationally recognized,

90-minute certification program, providing participants with hands-on opportunities to recognize life-threatening bleeding and intervene effectively by properly using a tourniquet in the event of blood loss caused by an injury. To register for one of the 2024 trainings, which run from Jan. 17-March. 7, visit or NDSU’s website. Stop the Bleed sessions are free for participants. However, pre-registration is required one week prior to each training session. Sessions are limited to 10-12 participants. Personal Stop the Bleed kits will be provided on a first-come, firstserved basis. Additional training dates are being scheduled in more locations across North Dakota for spring. Minnesota-specific dicamba herbicide restrictions announced for 2024 growing season The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) announced that state-specific use restrictions for three dicamba herbicide products remain unchanged for the 2024 growing season in Minnesota. The restrictions are aimed at curbing offsite movement of the products. The affected dicamba formulations are Engenia by BASF, Tavium by Syngenta, and XtendiMax by Bayer.

These are the only dicamba products labeled for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans. The three products will have the following restrictions in Minnesota in 2024: DATE CUTOFF: No application shall be made south of Interstate 94 after June 12, 2024. North of Interstate 94, use is prohibited after June 30, 2024. TEMPERATURE CUTOFF: No application shall be made if the air temperature of the field at the time of application is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit or if the National Weather Service’s forecasted high temperature for the nearest available location for the day exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also other federal requirements for the products that appear on the product labels. Those guidelines include: • Requiring an approved pH-buffering agent, also known as a volatility reducing agent, be tank mixed with dicamba products prior to all applications; • Requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed endangered species are located; and, • Additional recordkeeping items. In addition to the cutoff dates, Xtendimax and Tavium have crop growth stage cutoffs.

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