Friday, September 9, 2011

Farm Tour Season Is Not Over

So I guess the word is getting around and folks are still flocking to the NCRS for a tour of the place. On Wednesday we welcomed a small group of growers and dealers from North and South Dakota. They flew here in the morning (and boy were their arms tired. But seriously this thing on?) and headed to the farm for a quick lunch and introduction to the place. And then it was time to hit the fields. At the first stop below, we see Brian talking about the potato plots and what went on there. Next Stephanie talked about the Navy bean plots. North Dakota in particular grows much of the country's edible field beans (along with Michigan.)
Below some guy discusses one of the corn plots using ears as props. Chad does not appear convinced.

After the excitement of the farm, the group drove over to Ashley for a look at the plant. Plant Manager Gerrit Bancroft was our host. Below he shows the manifold system that loads the tanker trucks.

Then we went outside to look at some of the storage tanks, rail car loading, and the area where loaded tankers are parked awaiting trucks for delivery. As has been the case in previous visits, the 9000 gallon "supertanker" garners extra attention. These particular visitors had not seen tankers of this size with the extra axles. They are common in Michigan, but are not legal everywhere. In fact, this tanker is only licensed in Michigan and Ontario. It sure would make deliveries more efficient if they could go more places. They are double the size of the regular tankers.

Then it was back around to the front, say hi to Michelle and Bill, and back to the airport and fly home before supper. The only way to go. It was actually kind of chilly that day and several of the guys were looking forward to getting back to North Dakota so they could warm up. Probably won't be saying that much longer. Thanks to Kevin and Chad for setting this up.

Then yesterday Stephanie and I went over to Michigan State University's Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center near Frankenmuth. We have some foliar fertilizer treatments for sugarbeets in some of their test plots there. There may have been a little more leaf size and slightly greener leaves as well on the beets with foliars. But the leaves are starting to lose some color now anyway as the beets begin to bulk up now that it is getting late in the season.

The experiment below is testing some different treatments for Cercospora leaf spot, a serious fungal disease of sugarbeets. This can be a devastating disease and most beets around here are treated several times a year with fungicides to keep it at bay. In fact, Phil made a fungicide application on our beets today. Fortunately improved genetics have helped too. Whatever they are doing, it doesn't look like much is working. However I was told that these beets were innoculated with Cercospora for the test, so I guess it would be worse than in real life.

Then this morning I was taking a look around and stopped by the grape plots. Brian, Dan and Tim have already started picking these Concord grapes. They are really pretty, and they taste like a bite of grape jelly.

And who should stop by this afternoon but Jeff. Only gone a little over a week, and he missed us so much that he had to come back. Actually he came back for his weed collection for a class. And he wasn't quite finished and had to track down a couple more. Below he is digging up the elusive Jimson weed (Datura stramonium, yep, I still got got it!). One catch to plant collecting is that they have to have a flower or seeds, and these are now flowering.

So it was a busy week, even though it was short with Labor Day.