Mikkel Pates / Agweek Staff Writer
MILBANK, S.D.—Cheese plants in northeast South Dakota are booming, and that is providing economic opportunity for some farmers and communities in the Interstate 29 corridor, according to industry leaders in the region. Doug Wilke, chief executive officer of Valley Queen Cheese Factory Inc., of Milbank, was one of the officials who met with a half-dozen journalists as part of a value-added dairy tour sponsored by the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development. The tour was coordinated by Development Counsellors International of Denver.
MILBANK, S.D. — Valley Queen Cheese Factory Inc. recently opened the Valley Queen Heritage Center, an interpretive center in downtown Milbank, chronicling its nearly 90 years in cheese making. The space was available, and the company moved a cheese retail store into an available vintage space downtown.
SIDNEY, Mont. — This is the second year in a row for early sugar beet harvests at Sidney Sugars Inc. on the Montana-North Dakota border. Mike Steffan and his son, Jeff, raise beets just to the north of the factory in Sidney. Their Steffan Farms started opening fields on Sept. 17. The family has been raising beets for Holly Sugar at Sidney since 1926, when his grandfather came over from Germany.
As America wades into its new trade war, I've been thinking a lot about an interview I had with former Manitoba Premier Dufferin "Duff" Roblin. In the 1960s he spent his political capital to build flood protection for Winnipeg, which disastrously was flooded by the Red River in 1950. Roblin was derided for spending $64 million to build what his critics called "Duff's Ditch" — the kind of diversion that Fargo-Moorhead now wants to build for $2.4 billion. Duff's Ditch has saved some $40 billion.
TWIN BROOKS, S.D. — Corn is looking good but soybeans are "sketchy" in some parts of northeast South Dakota, after a hail storm on July 10. Harlan Bohn, 63, and his son, Greg, raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa on a small farm. They have 140 acres each of corn and soybeans and 100 acres of alfalfa along the south fork of the Whetstone River, which ends up in Big Stone Lake. They also rent about 200 acres of pasture for their registered red and black Angus and commercial stock cows.
AURORA, S.D. — Jan Sanderson says some of the same strengths that made him a big-time collegiate wrestler have helped him succeed with Sanderson Gardens — perhaps the longest-running commercial gardens in the Interstate 29 corridor. Sanderson, 66, was born in Sisseton, where his father, Cecil, was the long-time Roberts County Extension Service county agent. Cecil eventually was promoted to an agent supervisor at South Dakota State University, and moved to Aurora, just a few miles east of Brookings.
CASSELTON, N.D. — Meet the the future — spot-spraying with a drone. The model AG V6+ is a 6-foot-wide spray boom, acquired by North Dakota State University. It will soon be tested for its ability to accurately spray herbicides autonomously. The new industrial "unmanned aerial vehicle" arrived three weeks ago. It is capable of carrying more than 4 gallons of liquid. Operators can send it to spray precise locations of problem weeds. The scientists hope to determine the locations separately from high-resolution drone imagery.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — One of the Dakotas' largest metro areas since 1995 has been turning a byproduct of their wastewater treatment — sludge from city water waste — into farm fertilizer. Officials there say most city residents and even neighbors don't know how their "beneficial re-use" of nutrients is saving on their landfill.
If the Chinese government wants to hit Trump where it hurts over tariffs, I would bet on their ability to stick it to Midwest farmers for a bad, long time. I think the Chinese will: 1) find beans somewhere else at a premium and force their consumers to pay more 2) grow more beans or make it seem so 3) reduce the amount of beans imported by reducing the rise in meat consumption 4) all of the above.
ENDERLIN, N.D. — Steve Miller, who farms at the intersection of Barnes, Cass and Ransom counties near Enderlin, sees 70 acres of severely damaged soybeans from what he believes is caused by errant dicamba herbicide. Miller, 50, saw the cupped, blistered leaves and white brittle leaf tips and sent in samples to an out-of-state laboratory to confirm what he already suspects — dicamba damage on his Roundup Ready 1 beans.