January 16, 2018

Wheat Growers and North Central Farmers Elevator Announce New Co-op Name

The Boards of Directors of North Central Farmers Elevator and Wheat Growers voted earlier today to approve the name for the new cooperative that will launch February 1 – Agtegra Cooperative.

Soybeans being loaded on unit train at Wheat Growers Kennebec Elevator

Wheat Growers CEO Chris Pearson, who has been chosen to lead the new Agtegra Cooperative, said the Boards focused on choosing a name that would represent the rich history and bright future the two cooperatives share.

“We knew we needed to choose a name that allowed us the ability to adapt to changes in the ag industry,” Pearson said. “We knew not to limit ourselves to a geography, or to just one commodity crop or another. We also heard from our members through this process that to them, strength, stability and dependability are key characteristics they value from us. They want us grounded in agriculture, and they want us to stand together with them for the long haul – always holding a connection to our past and looking into the future.”

Pearson said Agtegra Cooperative reflects all that. “That’s a lot to pack into one name. But we believe Agtegra is a name that grounds us in agriculture, and points to the high level of integrity and dependability that we will seek to achieve serving our member-owners today and into the future.”

“In the end, we listened to our members and allowed their input and opinion to guide us through this process,” Pearson said.

Pearson said that in the three months since the vote, the employee teams of Wheat Growers and North Central have been laser focused on building a new cooperative committed to delivering value to its members.

“We’re combining two, legacy-rich organizations into one. We are preparing to create new efficiencies, expanding the use of new technologies, creating new opportunities for our employee team – all aimed at creating more value for our members,” Pearson said. “We’re excited about the progress we’ve made and looking forward to introducing this new farmer-owned cooperative to our members in a few weeks.”

The new Agtegra Cooperative that will begin operation Feb. 1 will be a farmer-owned agricultural cooperative, headquartered in Aberdeen, S.D., with 900 employees in North and South Dakota serving more than 60 communities and approximately 7,850 member-owners and 22,600 equity holders. In addition to offering grain and agronomy services, the cooperative will offer its members aerial application services, fuel, animal feed, and precision ag hardware and software products and services.

“Merging two strong cooperatives into one gives us the ability to expand the services and capabilities we offer our member-owners,” Pearson said. “Our purchase of the Kimball fertilizer plant from Gavilon announced yesterday, and our plans to expand the North Central aerial application service across our entire trade area, are two great examples of the high-quality products, services and efficiencies that we can provide our members from this new cooperative.”

A video produced to introduce the name can be viewed on either of the cooperative’s websites or social media pages at these links:

Websiteswww.wheatgrowers.com or www.ncfe.coop


https://www.facebook.com/WheatGrowers or https://www.facebook.com/North-Central-Farmers-Elevator-1568298430067292/

https://twitter.com/wheat_growers or https://twitter.com/NC_Farmers


Grain Dealers to Gather in Fargo for 106th Convention and Industry Show

The North Dakota Grain Dealers Association will hold its 106th Annual Convention & Industry Show at the Fargo Holiday Inn January 14-16, 2018.  Approximately 900 people are expected for the event, consisting of grain elevator managers, farmers, grain industry personnel, suppliers and spouses.  The meeting includes educational sessions, business meetings, and a trade show of 82 companies providing products and services to the grain industry.  We visited with NDGDA Executive Vice President Stu Letcher about this year’s agenda.

Program topics and speakers include:

  • Market Outlook – Eugene Graner, Heartland Investor Services
  • What Does the Future Hold for Cooperatives – Dr. Frayne Olson-Director, Quentin Burdick Center for Coops
  • Food Safety Modernization Act-Update on Implementation – Dave Fairfield, Sr. VP of Feed Services, NGFA
  • Seed Rules Every Producer and Dealer Should Know –  Jason Goltz-Manager Regulatory Program, ND State Seed Department

The full schedule can be found HERE.

To register for the convention or the special brewery tour of downtown Fargo, click HERE.



University of Minnesota Research Shows Annual Ryegrass Is a Win to Offset Winterkill in Alfalfa

Meet alfalfa, a perennial legume used mainly as high-quality feed for dairy cattle. Alfalfa is also used as feed for beef cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. It’s high in protein (16-20% crude protein). It contains a lot of calcium and other minerals and vitamins. It contributes billions of dollars to the United States economy annually.

But alfalfa faces a cold challenge.

Italian ryegrass (left), sorghum-sudangrass (center), and annual ryegrass + red clover (right). Photo credit Reagan Noland.

In the U.S., alfalfa is grown mainly in western and northern states. The cold winters and other factors in many of these states can damage alfalfa crops. That can lead to losses for farmers and forage shortages.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are working to help farmers offset losses caused by alfalfa winterkill. They are trying to identify annual forage crops that can be cultivated in fields with winter-killed or terminated alfalfa.

“Planting annual forage crops into terminated alfalfa is an economically viable strategy in response to alfalfa winterkill,” explains M. Scott Wells. Wells is an extension specialist at the University of Minnesota.

However, net economic returns can vary depending on which forage crop is planted. Different forage crops have different characteristics, including yield, nutritive value, tolerance to frequent cutting, and whether they can take root and grow–that is, be established–efficiently.

Wells and his colleagues identified annual ryegrass as the forage crop with the highest net returns when planted into terminated alfalfa in Minnesota test sites.

Finding forage crops that can help farmers offset losses due to alfalfa winterkill will have widespread benefits. In 2013, 93% of alfalfa growers surveyed in Wisconsin and Minnesota reported alfalfa winterkill or injury. Many reported alfalfa losses that were greater than 60%.

But why not simply re-plant alfalfa into the killed or injured alfalfa stands? Older alfalfa release chemicals that can reduce the productivity of newly-seeded alfalfa, and in some cases kill the new stands. “Even if the alfalfa plants do live, there is a chance the plants will be less productive,” says Wells. “It’s best to rotate to silage or a small grain forage crop.”

The researchers grew seven different forage crops on terminated alfalfa. They also tested a mixture of annual ryegrass and red clover. They measured yield, nutritive value, how the crops were affected by nitrogen fertilizer, and economic viability.

The study found that the highest yielding forage crops didn’t necessarily have the highest economic returns. For example, teff–a grain–and Sudangrass often had the highest yields. But they also provided lower nutritive values. That lowered their economic returns.

On the other end of the spectrum was annual ryegrass, with high yields and high nutritive value. It also established consistently across study sites and years.

“Our work suggests that annual ryegrass is the most reliable and economically viable option to providing early season forage with alfalfa winterkill,” says Wells.

The researchers also tested whether applying nitrogen fertilizer increased economic returns. In general, it didn’t. At study sites, nitrogen from terminated alfalfa was often enough to meet the needs of the forage crops. Applying nitrogen fertilizer usually didn’t lead to increases in economic returns.

Wells shares research findings through field days, workshops, and newsletters. “The goal is that our research and education will aid farmers in making changes that improve their economic outlook,” he says.

Read more about this research in Agronomy Journal.