The annual Small Grains Update was held last week in northern Minnesota, as representatives from commodity groups and researchers came together to discuss the topics of most interest to farmers in the region. Mitch Coulter, commodity marketing and biofuels director for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA), joined the group on the series, which began in Morris and ended in St. Hilaire.
Approximately five years ago, Minnesota Wheat Executive Director David Torgerson began working with MCGA and the Minnesota Soybeans Growers Association (MSGA) to develop a series of educational meetings that provide an efficient route for farmers to learn about the latest research and updates from the state’s ag sector.
“In Minnesota there are a lot of different educational meetings going on, and it is hard for farmers to attend them all,” Torgerson said. “Our goal is to take the topics covered at these workshops and bring them to one three hour meeting while making sure we are bring a new perspective in how we cover it.”
Coulter joined the group this year to provide an update on the biofuel market for surplus grain. A new topic for Small Grains Update attendees, he discussed the state’s growing infrastructure for ethanol-blended fuels, promotional efforts around ethanol, and ongoing industry partnerships to grow its use in future vehicles.
“A lot of growers in our area only see the latest in biofuels from what they hear on the news, so it was great to have it as a new topic and have it discussed in depth,” Torgerson said.
Joining Coulter on the Small Grains Update tour was University of Minnesota Extension researchers who discussed variety selection and nitrogen management strategies, David Kee from MSGA who covered the latest on pest management, lobbyist Bruce Kleven provided a legislative update, and Lauren Prouix from the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council gave an overview of their on-farm research in 2017.
In all, the group stopped in nine different cities, including a few new locations this year in Crookston, Ada and St. Hilaire.