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2011 Harvest Edition

By Staff | Aug 25, 2011

Free website helps farmers find better prices, increase earnings

WEST DES MOINES – Growers EdgeTM, an independently owned company based in West Des Moines, has launched an online resource center designed to enhance farmers’ profits.

Growers-edge.com is free to farmers and provides a one-stop resource for their business and marketing needs. On average, the site has helped farmers find 15 cents per bushel on spot markets and 25 cents per bushel on forward contracts.

According to Craig Mouchka, company president, current subscribers have reported additional earnings of 20 to 40 cents per bushel.

“There is a lot of information out there, and the purpose of growers-edge.com is to help farmers make sense of it all,” Mouchka said. “Farming is challenging and sometimes unpredictable.

“Farmers need timely and relevant market, weather and profitability information from a source they can trust.”

Growers-edge.com provides farmers with the means to track grain bids at their preferred elevators and search for the best price on the spot and forward markets within a 200-mile radius of their farm, less their trucking and storage costs. It also allows farmers to:

  • Track their profitability in real time against profit goals they establish.
  • Know the value of bushels sold, those still in storage and the overall profitability by crop.
  • Provides weather intelligence specific to their farming operation.
  • Access market commentary from the leading firms.

Research has shown that farmers increasingly rely on the Internet to access information, Mouchka said. “Sixty-three percent of farmers have high-speed Internet access, and 43 percent currently own a smartphone.

“Growers-edge.com was developed to allow farmers to access all necessary information from one trusted and unbiased source and provide the knowledge to be able to make the best choice for their business.”

Information available at growers-edge.com includes:

  • CashMax: allows farmers to track cash bids from more than 4,500 locations nationwide and search for the best price within a 200-mile radius of their location. Farmers can also view historical basis by location, as well as see a map view of their local market.
  • Profit Manager: allows farmers to view how profitable their farming operation is at all times, establish profit goals, edit input costs, record marketing transactions and track their profitability by crop and year.

Growers-edge.com calculates the numbers to show farmers how they are doing in relation to their profit goals. The program also displays total revenue on sold bushels to date, displays value of unsold bushels and tracks profitability in real time.

  • Quote Edge: provides real-time market information on a 10-minute delay, as well as the latest market news in a familiar layout that automatically updates as the market moves.

Farmers can create a customized page to display the markets they track most often and also offers access to custom charts and technical analysis of individual contracts.

  • Trading Edge: gives farmers the opportunity to trade in the futures and options markets for a low $7 per trade commission versus standard $30 to $70 commsissions.
  • Weather: presents local daily conditions and forecasts, in addition to regional and national radar maps.

Farmers have the option to select what information is delivered to their phone via text messaging and when, allowing them to stay on top of their farm’s profitability no matter where they are

Since its soft launch in 2010, the site has amassed more than 10,000 users for testing the system, Mouchka said.

“Our mission is to increase farmers’ profits,” said Mouchka. “Growers Edge is successful because our business is different from anything else out there.

“We’re turning data into useful answers and solutions, looking out for thousands of farmers.

“What we have been hearing from our customers is that they are saving money, because they now don’t have to pay for this information.”

For more information on Growers Edge, visit growers-edge.com.

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2011 Harvest Edition

By Staff | Aug 25, 2011

June Bruns, of Esterville, sells cucumbers to a patron at the Lake-area farmers market.

High tunnels keep plants growing, even if weather is unfavorable

By Robyn Kruger

Farm News staff writer

SPIRIT?LAKE – It’s been an interesting summer in terms of weather in Northwest Iowa.

Those growing vegetables, fruit and flowers for the Lakes Area Farmer’s Market will said it has been a year of extremes – from early warmth to a late frost, a cool June with too much rain and then blistering heat.

Bob Brandt, of Lakefield, Minn., sells tomatoes he grew in his high tunnel system. Vendors said the tomato harvest is late this year.

Some might think produce may be hard to come by, but a stroll through the Expo building at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds in Spirit Lake on a Wednesday or Saturday morning this summer will find the reverse is true.

Irel and June Bruns have been selling produce in the area for 18 years. The couple lives in rural Estherville.

“Peas and beans always sell the best.” said Irel “A lot of what we have to offer this year is coming in a little later than it normally would.”

Bill Brant, from Lakefield Minn., a long-time green grocer at the Lakes Area Market, said this year he received a grant through the Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service to build high tunnel hoop houses.

The hoop houses allowed him to get some of his crops into the soil earlier and have produce ready at the peak of the local tourist season in the lakes area.

“Our customers seem to be getting younger. people are realizing the importance of buying local grown foods.” —Jan Koenecke Market secretary

“I have learned so much this year about growing in these hoop houses,”?Brandt said. “Next year I will install heat and ventilation units which will increase the effectiveness of this growing method.

“I will also change a few of the varieties of the plants I am growing and the numbers of those plants.”

Brant said 2011 production included tomatoes, peppers and zucchini in the high tunnels.

When a ventilation system is installed he hopes to grow greens in the tunnels as well.

Common vegetables and fruit are found in the market as well as the unusual.

Barb Pohlman, another Minnesota grower from Heron Lake, displays her “Kolsack” a type of kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is cut and the slices are peeled, the inside is then sliced and eaten raw like one would eat a carrot stick.

The Kolsack kohlrabi is an excellent source of potassium.

Flower growers also use the Lakes Area Market as an outlet for their wares.

Shelly Birdsall, whose former business Birdsall Gardens, was lost due to the poor economy, has found an outlet for the flowers she enjoyed selling and growing when she was in the nursery business.

“I have been doing very well selling flower bouquets and some of the volunteer perennial plants I have growing on my farm left from my original business venture.” she said. “Plus I am meeting people who need help with landscaping design.”

Roger and Nancy DeVries, of Cottage Gardens, in Milford, find the market a great place to sell excess merchandise.

“We also use this market as an advertising tool.” said Roger. “We want people to know we are here and where to find us.”

Mike Koenecke and Mark Edlin are co-managers of the Lakes Area Farmers Market.

They said the number of venders has increased this year as well as the variety of items available to market goers.

Koenecke, who has managed the market for about 15 years, said he has observed the age of market goers go down in recent years.

Jan Koenecke, market secretary, said that when they began managing the market their customers consisted mostly of senior citizens.

“Our customers seem to be getting younger,” she exclaimed, a sure sign that people are realizing the importance of buying local grown foods and also the benefits of freshly grown produce.

Contact Robyn Kruger at obranger@hickorytech.net.

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