Most Valuable Crop??

Most Valuable Crop??

What would you say is the most important crop we raise here in Southern Minnesota?  

Must be corn!……………wrong.

Then it is definitely soybeans!……wrong again.

Far and away the most valuable things we raise are…………………our children (and grandchildren).

I wanted to drive home this point as we head into the busiest and most dangerous time of the year on the farm.  Did you know that nearly 300 children under age 19 die per year in farming accidents in the USA? (source: Iowa State University) and nearly 1 in 8 total farm accidents happen to a child.  Here is a list of common perils that face our youngsters.

Tractors/Machinery are by far the biggest causes of tragedy.  Make sure that you do not allow a young person to operate any equipment that they do not have the skill or judgement to handle.  Take a lot of time to train carefully!  Put tractors and combines in park when exiting the cab and take the keys out of the ignition when young kids are around.  Make sure that no-one is in the way when backing up equipment.  Put all hydraulically controlled equipment in the down position when it is parked (ex-front end loaders, tillage equipment).  Keep PTO shields in place.

Livestock can be unpredictable--- Young children may see any type of livestock as a potential pet or plaything.  Make sure the kids are supervised and are educated about how to approach animals and to avoid certain animals in some situations.

Flowing Grain---1/3 of all grain suffocations happen to children under 14.  Flowing grain is fascinating to kids but will suck them in just like quicksand in seconds.  Keep kids away from grain wagons and trucks, and away from augers and bins.  You will not be strong enough to grab a child out of a stream of flowing grain. This should be a no-go zone period.

Pesticide/chemicals---I know this isn’t spray season but……do you have all containers of herbicide, insectide, anti-freeze etc. put away safely?   While you are busy attending to your farm work, that grandchild from the city may be exploring in your shop.

Falls---Grain bin ladders are especially dangerous.  Block accessible ladders and steps and store portable ladders out of reach.  Fence off and secure manure lagoons and farm ponds and wells.  Aid children when entering and exiting machinery.  Also don’t prop up heavy items that could fall on kids (ex. –Dual tires, drag sections) a small child can be trapped and suffocated very quickly. 

Electricity---Very dangerous and very deadly to curious youngsters.  Cover all electrical boxes and exposed wiring.  Replace frayed cords.  Unplug tools after use, so Junior doesn’t pick up the circular saw to imitate his uncle or Grandpa.

Prevention---If you are concerned about safety on your farm, maybe you should consider hiring a baby-sitter if you don’t have enough family around to properly supervise a young one.   Everyone on the farm should know where people are working and when to expect people back.  Even small children can be taught to dial 911 and ask for help in an emergency.

In closing, are you really that busy that you can’t take a few moments to tend to safety for kids??  Really?



About Mark Warmka

Mark has worked at Peoples State Bank since 2003, serving as lead agricultural lending officer and bank Senior Vice President. He is also a member of the Board of Directors. Mark has an extensive background in the financial services industry, possessing both investment and insurance licensing and is fully accredited as a crop insurance agent.

He and his wife, Kate, an elementary teacher in Blue Earth, live on and manage the home farm near Easton. Their daughter, Amanda, is a Physician Assistant at UHD Hospital and daughter, Sara, is teaching and coaching at Fairmont Public Schools. 

You can reach Mark by email or at 507-553-3155.

» More blog posts by Mark here

Farewell to Flexstar

It has been frustrating at times this spring to complete the application of post-emergence herbicides to our soybean crop.   Windy conditions and scattered rain events have prevented spraying in some locations.   A very popular product for many farmers is Flexstar.  This product is one of the few out there that can control waterhemp and other troublesome broadleaves.

The issue now is that Flexstar has a 10 month rotation back to corn in Minnesota.  So that pushes 2018 planting back into May at this point.  Any Flexstar applied from here on out has an increased chance of carryover injury to next year’s corn.  This herbicide needs rainfall and soil microbe activity to break down.  If things turn dry or there is a hard early freeze-up of soils, then the active ingredient (fomesafen) can persist until the next growing season.

So it is highly recommended that you say farewell for 2017 to your old friend Flexstar and choose a different herbicide if you are still trying to spray for broadleaf weeds in your soybeans.

Good Luck ,


Producer Page: Spring 2017

Ccccold corn--- Typical Minnesota weather….working in a Tshirt over the weekend and seeing snow showers a few days later.  The big topic for farmers this past week has been the decision to plant or not.  Soil conditions for most were pretty good but the forecast was not.  Agronomic research has provided us with some guidance regarding this tough call.  Imbibitional chilling injury is the primary concern in these conditions.  Imbibition is the name for the process where the corn seed absorbs water so it can germinate.  So if soils are below 50 degrees and the corn gets a drink of cold water it can damage cell membranes and  lead to poor emergence and “cork-screwing” of the coleoptile (the first seedling leaves trying to emerge).  The critical time factor seems to be the first 24-36 hours after planting.  So if the forecast is for colder temps and rain, most agronomists will recommend stopping the planter 1-2 days prior to the rain event.  Extended periods of cold soils can lead to injury of any planted seed (not telling you anything you didn’t already know).  Today’s seed is very high quality, so hopefully with a little help from Mother Nature, the planted acres thus far will do fine, but scouting for emergence issues will be recommended.

Depth Do’s & Don’ts--- This can be a matter of opinion, but most agronomists will contend that you need your corn to be planted at a 2 inch depth.  Planting shallower can lead to more uneven stands due to inconsistent germination zone moisture and also it hurts the development of the nodal root system which reduces the uptake of water and nutrients and can lead to lodging issues.  Soybeans on the other hand are recommended to be planted at 1.5 inches(as long as there is adequate moisture).  Planting deeper than that may lead to uneven emergence as plants struggle to come up and enter the early growing season with reduced vigor and lower energy reserves.

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Producer Page: Fall

Welcome Wagon--- Peoples State Bank is very happy to be joined by our friends and neighbors from Paragon Bank.  We have enjoyed beginning to work with you and our institution has benefitted greatly from the addition of several outstanding new employees.  We look forward to a great future!!

Soggy September--- This is getting old!  Too much rain recently will start to impact our harvest season.  You may want to think about a plan “B” type of approach to fall work.  For example:  what fields are a priority, instead of always having the same combining order ---Be flexible regarding the switch back and forth between corn and soybeans, it is a pain but may be necessary with the limiting conditions  ---Have your grain handling set up so you can harvest in limited windows and not have bottlenecks that stop the combine when the weather is ok, maybe be willing to use some older bins for temporary storage etc.

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