Paul Malchow

A good old January weather thumping perhaps bruised the attendance figures for this year's MN AG EXPO, but it didn't dampen the spirits of the appreciative crowd who found their way to the Verizon Center in Mankato. The Expo took place Jan. 23 and 24 and is the unofficial kick-off to the Minnesota farm show season.

The overnight winter squall which took place between the two dates probably changed a number of people’s plans to take in the show; although I spoke with one fellow from the Pipestone, Minn. area who made the white-knuckle drive. Luckily the show was not scheduled a week later, when sub-sub-zero temperatures and a howling wind shut down most of the state.

Those who were able to take in the Expo were treated to an informative and entertaining event. A corn and soybean research station generated a lot of interest and on Jan. 23 I sat in on a discussion concerning weed control and resistance. U of M Extension Educator Dave Nicolai, Next Gen Ag’s Andrew Lueck and United Farmers Cooperative agronomist Dan Miller each brought their unique perspective on weed issues they are seeing.

Water hemp is proving to be a stubborn foe in the field as many growers find it resistant to popular herbicides. “Water hemp emerges all year long,” said Lueck. “We’re doing soybean trials experimenting with row spacing and row cultivation to see if we can counteract the later-emerging weeds. Sharpen and Warrant herbicides are proving effective pre-emergence. Sharpen works better in dry weather and Warrant when it’s wet.”

Nicolai said giant ragweed is spreading from east to west and a glyphosate-resistant common ragweed is showing up in Wisconsin. Crop rotation and spring tillage are the best bets against giant ragweed. “There are more options to control giant ragweed in corn than beans,” said Miller.

On Jan. 24, the Expo featured the bright lights of television as host Tyne Morgan conducted a special taping of her U.S. Farm Report program. Morgan’s guests were marketing specialists Sue Martin and Duwayne Bosse.

Both analysts agreed the U.S. government shutdown was limiting USDA crop reports and brought a lot of guesswork into the markets. “Reports are big market movers,” said Martin. “We think corn yields are down.”

Bosse said we would need a “weather scare” to boost corn or soybean prices. With African swine fever crippling China’s swine industry, “China has less soybean demand,” said Bosse. “That’s the problem I see. I would sell soybeans now and keep the corn a little while.”

After Morgan’s TV show wrap, I sat in on a well-attended session on estate planning and succession. Presented by Kaitlin Pals of the Gislason and Hunter law firm, the session was packed with information and food for thought. Proper succession planning is a complex process requiring careful thought and participation by the entire family. The nuances and tips provided by Pals are too numerous to delve into here. I would urge any family looking to transfer farm ownership to the next generation to learn as much as they can about the many legal and tax ramifications. Succession is a long process which could literally take years to complete. Don’t wait before it is too late.

The Expo’s featured luncheon speaker on Jan. 24 was retired colonel Parker Schenecker. While deployed in Afghanistan, Col. Schenecker learned his wife had murdered their two teenage children. He spoke of overcoming sorrow and loss — choosing to remember how his children had lived rather than how they died.

Whether planned or a fortunate coincidence, Schenecker’s moving speech was inspirational at a time when farmers’ mental health is receiving attention and the number of suicides rise.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who stopped at The Land’s booth on the Expo’s exhibit floor. We appreciate your comments and candor and take them to heart. It is with your input that we can make The Land better and more useful to our readers.

One of those readers, Robert Lenort of Fairmont, Minn., was the lucky winner of the drawing held at The Land’s booth. Robert took home a bag full of Land goodies — snow removal not included.

Paul Malchow is the managing editor of The Land. He may be reached at editor@TheLandOnline.com.