The Roundup -

Savage Family Wraps Up 2017 Grain Harvest


October 25, 2017 | View PDF

Bergstedt family in Savage. (Photo submitted)

Dryland farmers Kelly and Suzie Bergstedt live on the century-old Bergstedt family homestead, a short jaunt down the lane road from Kelly's parents, Cliff and Linda. The farm "started as probably just a few acres, and now we farm about 3000 acres," Kelly explained. The family has "always raised small grains-wheat, barley, corn, durum, spring wheat, winter wheat," he said. The family also raises cattle, and has some acres of pasture as well.

The Bergstedts are located north of Savage, and enjoy the seasonality and flexibility afforded to them by the farming lifestyle. Suzie currently homeschools the couple's older daughters, Sarah and Hallie, in addition to caring for their young son, Ethan. Their schedule allows for Suzie and the kids to help when needed. "Kelly is always patient, and he is a very good teacher. He shows me how to operate the equipment until I feel I'm ready to do the job by myself. And then it's fun and exciting for me to be able to help!" Suzie said.

Harvest for the Bergstedts lasts about a month, from the end of July to the end of August. They've included corn in their crop this year, which they will finish combining in October.

Though the family raises corn for feed, most other crops are primarily for food. The choice of crop is to some extent driven by the market. "Since I have taken over the bulk of the decision making responsibilities, the farm has transitioned from a crop/fallow situation into more of a no-till operation.

We have been doing more things with pulse crops, peas and lentils," Kelly explains. "If the price of a particular commodity is down, we will shift away from that for a time, to something that will make a better return on investment," he said.

To increase that return, the family has used several technologies to increase yield. "I've done a lot of things with variable rate fertilize placement," Kelly said. "We've worked with the fertilizer plant in Savage to come up with satellite images of crop density to determine where the fertilizer should go. I've been experimenting with that for the past few years. It has a lot of potential. We've been doing some yield mapping, to figure out where to maximize the input of fertilizer," he explains. The goal is to reduce input costs for the grower and lower excess fertilizer loading to the ground, in addition to a more plentiful harvest.

The 2017 harvest season proved plentiful for the family despite dauntingly dry conditions. "As everyone knows this was a very dry year and challenging to our area. This year's harvest was surprising. Yields and quality were better than I expected. Mid-summer I didn't really expect to be harvesting much of anything. It sure wasn't our best crop but it was also not our worst. We were fortunate to receive a small amount of rain here that other areas didn't. All in all we are thankful for the harvest and looking forward to trying again," Kelly said.

The Bergstedts are looking forward to combining corn in October and settling in to fixing equipment and preparing for planting. As for the future of the farm, Kelly and Suzie are not yet sure if the children will take over some day. "I hope they will have an opportunity to take over. I feel it's a good life," Kelly says.


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