Tick, tick, tick...

The clock is running out! This is not about a basketball game in the fourth quarter, it is referring to the time you have left to report your acres to the FSA office. The annual deadline is July 15th and that is fast approaching. The Faribault County office does not require appointments for this process, so you can just show up….but you may have to have some patience as other producers will also be there as well.

Don’t forget to bring that report (the FSA 578 form and map photos) to your crop insurance agent immediately after you are finished at the Farm Service Agency. Crop insurance agents are also working on that deadline to submit your planted acreage for multi-peril insurance.

A couple of other items that pop up this time of year---Many of you used the FSA grain loan program, and those bushels are coming to town now. Remember to “call before you haul”. You need to release bushels with the FSA before you remove the grain from the bin. It has been frustrating to get grain hauled to some warehouses or ethanol plants this summer, so be aware of your expiration dates on existing releases, as you may have to call again for an extension of time to haul. I know it seems that you are being hassled about this, but remember that the FSA staff is just doing their job and that your grain is technically collateral on a loan from the US taxpayer.

One last item……This is ditch mowing season, please avoid any Evel Knievel type dare-devil driving on steep ditch banks. Slow down and be careful.  

Good Luck Out There!


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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