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Emma, her father, Blaine (center) and farmer Kevin Lee examine a beet field.ST. THOMAS, N.D. — Kevin Lee has known Emma Papenfuss all her life and has seen her working on his farm countless times over many years. Asked about her connection to agriculture, the St. Thomas farmer smiled and said that Papenfuss "drove herself home on a tractor from the hospital when she was born."
Now, Papenfuss, who turned 22 the day before she interviewed for this article, is putting her love for agriculture to multiple uses. She's a full-time agronomist in Grafton, N.D., she works on Lee's farm, and this year, for the first time, she's planted crops of her own on rented land.
And she's marrying Andrew Torkelson, a Grafton farmer, on Nov. 16. He and his family raise potatoes, while Papenfuss raises sugar beets — crops which Emma describes as "two different (agricultural) worlds" and which require the couple's relationship to be especially flexible and mutually supportive.
"I just have a passion for agriculture," Papenfuss said of her diverse roles.
Blaine Papenfuss, a St. Thomas, N.D., farmer, is proud of his daughter, Emma, and her love of ag.Her ultimate goal — one she knows won't be easily or quickly achieved — is getting enough land to become a full-time farmer. But she's excited about making a start, planting 142.5 acres of sugar beets and dry edible beans of her own this spring, and is committed to success in her multiple duties.
Papenfuss grew up on her family farm near St. Thomas, a mile from the Lee farm. Her father, Blaine, has worked for Lee for decades and Emma has helped out Lee since she was a teen.
Her commitment to agriculture was especially obvious in 2016, when Lee's sugar beet harvest was hampered by extremely wet conditions. Emma Papenfuss, then a student at North Dakota State University, repeatedly drove back to help with the harvest, while continuing her studies.
That dedication and extra effort "showed even more how important farming is to her," Lee said.
Many Upper Midwest farmers have difficulty finding enough good help, and Lee emphasized that he's fortunate to have both Blaine and Emma working on his farm.
Emma Papenfuss visits with location manager Brian Sieben.Papenfuss, who graduated in three years with a degree in ag economics, originally thought about being an ag banker. But she eventually realized she wanted to be more "hands-on in farming."
After graduation, she worked as an agronomist for J.R. Simplot, an agricultural supplier specializing in potato products, in Crystal, N.D. She interned with the company when she was in college.
Early this year, she joined the new Hefty Seed Co. location in Grafton, which is closer to her St. Thomas roots.
A few older, "traditional" farmers seem to have had reservations about her age and gender, but by and large clients have accepted her, she said.
"This is 2019. I hope we're past that (concerns about women in ag)," she said.
Papenfuss emphasized that she learns as much from clients as they learn from her. "I'm not afraid to ask questions. I think that's one of my strengths," she said.
"She's very hard-working, very willing to learn. Not afraid to call on customers, learning more about the agronomics," said Brian Sieben, Hefty branch manager. "Hopefully she'll be with us a long time."
Papenfuss' agronomy career and her own farming is "a balancing act. We talked about that when I hired her. She said that her priority is the job here," Sieben said.
But starting her own farm this spring is obviously important to her, too. Papenfuss rents land from her father and Dean Scharmer, a neighboring farmer and her dad's cousin. She thanks Scharmer for giving up some of the land he farmed so that she could plant more acres.
"It was a very selfless move from him and something not everyone would do in order to get the next generation farming," Papenfuss said.
She hopes to take on more land, over time, when and if it becomes available.
Nature hasn't cooperated with her first year of farming herself.
"The beet crop is still hanging on pretty good, but the edible bean crop is definitely struggling and in some places starting to go backwards with the lack of rain we've had all summer," Papenfuss said. "(I'm) still optimistic about the beet crop, but I'm afraid there might not be much out there for the pintos and navys (the two kinds of edible beans she's raising)."
But Papenfuss' ag experience and training tell her that agriculture is cyclical. Prices and yields vary, often greatly, from year to year, and occasionally difficult crop seasons are an inevitable part of farming.
"I still think the long-term outlook for farming is good," she said.
Sugar beets, potatoes
People outside agriculture may not always realize it, but different crops can require different priorities and ways of doing things.
That's the case with sugar beets, which Papenfuss raises, and potatoes, which her fiancé Torkelson raises, she said.
For example, the sugar beet harvest goes around the clock, while the potato harvest does not. As a result, Torkelson has delivered many meals to Papenfuss at night in the field when she was harvesting sugar beets.
"Quite the opposite of the stereotype of a woman delivering a meal to the field to a man," she said.
"I'm very blessed to have Andrew as (my) fiance as he completely understands my passion for agriculture and supports me 100 percent even if that means our relationship has to take a backseat during certain times of the year. His support is second to none which is essential to me accomplishing my dreams," Papenfuss said.
Her multiple roles in agriculture might cause some people to wonder if Papenfuss has taken on too much. Asked about that, she smiled and said, "When you love what you're doing, it isn't work."
https://ift.tt/2ZvyiBX Sugar Beet News |
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August 29, 2019 at 10:57AM
Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 6:00 amBy Cory Erickson hillsborobanner.com
Despite a later-than-average start to planting this spring, the annual American Crystal Sugar Co. prepile kicked off on Thursday across the Red River Valley.
Brian Ingulsrud, the company’s vice president of agriculture, said sugar beet tonnage is expected to be down slightly from a year ago, when yields averaged around 30 tons per acre.
The sugar coop planted a little under 400,000 acres this year, up from 377,000 acres in 2018, following a late start to planting – which the company said will impact yields.
Ingulsrud said the company is looking at a crop that should come in around 28 tons per acre in 2019 for a total haul of more than 11 million tons.
“Our average planting date ended up being May 10 this year, while our normal planting date is May 5,” he said.
“Historically, yields are lower when you’re planting at a later date, so we decided to add some acreage to help offset that.”
Despite the late start to the growing season, weather this summer has fared well for the beet crop.
The Aug. 15 prepile is only a day later than the earliest start in the company’s history, thanks in part to a cool spring and timely rains across much of the growing area.
Ingulsrud said that fields have been a little drier in the northern areas and wetter in the south, but conditions have averaged out across the region.
“The middle has really had good growing conditions,” he said. It’ll always vary a bit. It’s a very large area to take into account.”
Ingulsrud said that less than 20 percent of the company’s total acreage will be harvested during this year’s prepile, which serves as a trial run for full-scale harvest operations.
Tonnage will be monitored and sugar content will be considered at that point to plan for the larger harvest, which is set to begin Oct. 1, according to the company official.
American Crystal Sugar is owned by 2,650 shareholders in the Red River Valley and has North Dakota factories in Drayton and Hillsboro and Minnesota factories in Crookston, East Grand Forks and Moorhead.
In 2018, shareholders were paid around $48 per ton, compared to $46 per ton in 2017.
Officials didn’t have a tally for this year’s payment.
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August 21, 2019 at 09:44AM
FARGO, N.D. — The Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association is looking for a new executive director.
Association president Dan Younggren of Hallock, Minn., says the executive committee about three weeks ago parted ways with Duane Maatz who had been the group's executive director since spring 2015.
"The association has decided they would like to go in a different direction, trying to be more in tune with people in Washington, D.C.," Younggren said. He said Maatz "didn't fit" with that direction "higher and higher up" and didn't think they were "going to get there with present employment."
Maatz said he declined to comment at this time.
Younggren said the association has advertised for applications for the position. They are in the process of "gathering" those applications and will consider how to proceed after their next executive board meeting, which has not yet been set. Applications are due Aug. 27 to Bruce Kleven, the association's attorney in Minneapolis.
"We're looking for a gold star, someone who wants to ride to the top, to be in tune with the folks out in D.C. and whatnot," Younggren said.
Maatz, 59, came to the beet group after serving as executive director of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. Maatz graduated from North Dakota State University in 1982 in agricultural education. He started his career in agricultural education and worked in adult farm business management. He served 10 years as the president of the Red River Valley Potato Growers Association and then was named president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, Minn.
The Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association was incorporated in 1954. Members produce beets for the American Crystal Sugar Co., based in Moorhead, Minn. Association officials helped convert Crystal from a corporate ownership to a farmer-owned cooperative system. Much of the U.S. beet sugar industry has since converted to the cooperative ownership form.
The RRVSGA claims to represent over 2,500 growers, "raising sugar beets on about 400,000 acres and delivering those beets to five factories up and down the Red River of the North."
The co-op itself is led by elected board members. Many typically are first members of the growers association board.
While American Crystal itself has a full-time lobbyist in Washington, D.C., the association is associated with the American Sugarbeet Growers Association in Washington, which has a separate lobbyist to represent a federation of 17 grower associations across the entire industry. The RRVSGA has a special responsibility to represent Crystal growers' interests in state capitals in Minnesota and North Dakota. The U.S. has 22 factories, but only two are not owned by their growers, even though they are owned by producers in other co-ops (including Sidney Sugar Inc., Sidney, Mont., a subsidiary of American Crystal, and a Spreckels Sugar Co., Brawley, Calif., a subsidiary of Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative of Renville, Minn.)
Maatz replaced Nick Sinner, who served as executive director of the RRVSGA from March 2004 to December 2014. Sinner went on to serve as executive director and then president/chief executive officer of the Minnesota-South Dakota Equipment Dealers Association in Owatonna, Minn., until December 2017.
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August 21, 2019 at 09:36AM
Symptoms of Cercospora leaf spot (CLS) have been observed in a sugar beet field near Scottsbluff, Neb., a signal that farmers should begin scouting fields for signs of this potentially destructive disease.
Cercospora leaf spot has long been problematic to sugar beet production throughout the eastern and Great lakes production areas of the United States. In western Nebraska, it has been sporadic, but not a consistent issue. However, when it does occur, it can be very destructive.
CLS is caused by the airborne fungal pathogen Cercospora beticola, which overwinters in infected residue and can serve as an inoculum source the following season. Disease development is strongly dependent upon very specific environmental conditions, including periods of high humidity or extended leaf wetness (more than 11 hours) and warm temperatures (higher than 60 degrees F at night and 80-90 degrees F during the day). Without these conditions, disease spread and damage to beet crops is greatly reduced or inhibited.
The fungus grows within leaf tissues and new lesions and spores will be formed within 10-14 days under optimum conditions. This means that whenever you see the circular, ash-colored lesions (1/8 inch in diameter) surrounded by a dark border, infection has occurred approximately two weeks earlier.
On Monday morning (July 15) the symptoms characteristic of this disease were observed on lower leaves of sugar beets from research plots at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff. This suggests that infection occurred back before July 4, which is incredibly early for western Nebraska.
This also implies that many of the new leaves may already be infected, but not exhibiting symptoms yet. Infection of the newer, upper leaves is where the economic loss occurs in both tonnage and sugar content.
Be on the lookout. It is definitely time to begin scouting fields, closely looking for similar symptoms. It is unusually early, but fungicide applications may be necessary if it continues to rain and stay warmer at nights between midnight and 6-7 a.m. CLS is a devastating disease if it becomes established and is difficult if not impossible to properly manage. You can never play catch-up with this disease. ❖
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July 22, 2019 at 03:00PM