Mikkel Pates / Agweek Staff Writer
AYR, N.D. — Stacy Nelson-Heising and her husband, Dan Heising, are moving forward at Cottonwood Farm where they focus on an unusual crop for this area — apples. All of their apples will go through their newly-functional Cottonwood Cider House. They started an orchard in 2012 and planned the cider house in 2014. Construction started in 2016. "We're putting the finishing touches on it," Stacy said, noting it was a vision of her father, Charles "Chuck" Nelson, who died June 20 and had been one of the region's pioneering organic farmers.
FARGO — A North Dakota State University engineer looks like Inspector Gadget in the historic test fields west of campus. He is studying a blinking, high-tech probe that someday may be deployed via drones to scout crops for things like disease and insect pests. John Nowatzki, an NDSU engineer, is just learning about the probe, which looks like a glistening light saber, with colored blinking lights emanating from around its end. The high-tech probe ultimately may look very different and could be deployed on an aerial drone to collect data under a crop canopy.
WEST FARGO, N.D. — The Environmental Protection Agency predicted it might take six months to do an initial evaluation of "energy beets" for their environmental footprint as a feedstock for biofuels. Six years — not months — later the agency has a thumbs up on energy beets as a feedstock — rating it for greenhouse gases and other environmental issues. Proponents say it's a the first of three hurdles in making it accepted as a viable biofuel.
VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Dicamba damage on 2017 soybeans has shifted into a new phase of high-stakes public relations, regulatory and legal battles. The Arkansas State Plant Board on Aug. 25 recommended limiting the chemical's use to before April 15 in that state for 2018. Low-volatility dicamba herbicides include Monsanto's XtendiMax, DuPont's FeXapen and BASF's Engenia. The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing label instructions for the chemicals for 2018.
ROTHSAY, Minn. — After cercospora leaf spot robbed sugar beet yields last year, farmers this year have largely kept ahead of it. Cercospora is the most devastating foliar leaf disease that the region's sugar beets encounter. Farmers deal with it every year, losing sugar, root quality and storability, as well as processing efficiency.
ROTHSAY, Minn. — The guys at Haugrud Farms Inc., are upbeat about the prospects for their certified wheat and soybean seed crops, as well as potential yields for their commercial sugar beet crops. Bryant Haugrud manages the farm with his brother, Brent, and is in the seed business that their father, Harlan, 86, started about 60 years ago near Rothsay. Brent's son, Ben, also is in the operation, as well as Bryant's son-in-law, Lance Johnson.
GLYNDON, Minn. — The Red River Valley and the region are seeing signs of another above-normal sugar beet yield, and the companies are getting ready for it. American Crystal Sugar Co. of Moorhead, Minn., expects to start pre-pile harvest on Aug. 15, while Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative will delay pre-pile harvest until Sept. 15 following two stinging years of overproduction.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It will likely be November before an Iowa biofuels promoter is sentenced after ultimately pleading guilty to federal fraud charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Taylor Aasmundstad is just starting his agricultural career and wants to jump into animal agriculture, but some neighbors are opposed to the location near Devils Lake, N.D., a major fisheries and recreational resource. "We decided if we're going to make it in agriculture, we're going to have animals on our farm," says Taylor, 23, who raises crops with his father, Eric Aasmundstad, west of Devils Lake. Eric is a former president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau and is president of Nodak Insurance Co.
JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Head, hands, health and heart: Charlotte Wilson is throwing all of those into her idea for a relief effort for Kansas ranchers hit by wildfires. Wilson, 10, of Jamestown, N.D., is a daughter of Sarah and Jeremy Wilson. A member of Country Kids 4-H Club, she decided to take action about the Kansas disaster after viewing a Facebook video on the topic last March. Wildfires there burned over 700,000 acres in 21 counties.