I am back home after getting our oldest son, Matthew, married off in Brazil on August 4. I told his wife Caroline, that I was really happy that she could coordinate the wedding with the farm tour there that I was excited about. I don’t think that she was impressed with my sense of humor. It was indeed the biggest wedding I have ever been to. They look happily married. They are starting out in West Des Moines.
Our new daughter in law’s family farm operation, located in Minas Gerais, Brazil is dairy, coffee, beef and soybean seed. The dairy, 600 milking cows, is Carol’s. Carol completed a graduate program in International Business Administration in Toronto, Canada. She attends Brazil’s Top 100 Dairy Farmers annual convention each year. Hers was the 31st largest dairy farm in Brazil in 2016. The cows are milked 3 times per day through a carousel milking parlor. They produce 13,000-14000 liters of milk daily. She says the average dairy farm in Brazil produces from 1000-1500 liters/day. They have contracted their milk to Nestles for 25 years now. I believe that it becomes Nestles ice cream. She buys the feed for the cows which includes cotton seed and pelletized orange peel. They also finish 1500 beef cattle bought as feeder cattle annually, so it is a feedlot/dairy. Her father’s office is adorned with many awards for showing dairy cattle.
They produce about 600 hectares of full season corn and 400 hectares of safrinha (double crop corn) as well as sorghum as a second crop behind soybeans. (2.47 acres per hectare) All of their corn/sorghum is fed. The full season corn is chopped for silage. It yielded a record this year as did their soybeans. Full season corn can yield over 200 bpa while the second crop corn behind soybeans is expected to yield 90 bpa this year. They have three large open-sided dairy barns. The manure was kept moist by spray nozzles which also cool the cattle and was scraped into a large flowing gutter at the end of the buildings which flowed into a huge separator tank. Manure solids were elevated into a truck for use as fertilizer. The liquid was then pumped into a methane digester which powered a generator. The electricity was transferred to the grid from which the farm bought its electricity but they said that it covered their electricity cost. The liquid manure was then used to irrigate the 1000 hectares of arabica coffee that they grow. I was surprised to learn that Minas Gerais is Brazil’s largest coffee producing state. It is a very major crop there and requires irrigation. The dairy manure makes great coffee.
Caroline’s family came from Germany to the southernmost state in Brazil of Rio Grande do Sul in the 1880’s-1890’s and Carol’s grandmother could still speak German. The Kruse family came to the U.S. from Germany in 1865. The German heritage of the two families crossed again in 2017. Carol’s father, Rogerio Luiz Seibt, was the youngest in his family (4 older sisters) and was told as a young man that there was some good land in Minas Gerais by a friend that had traveled there when he was a young man. He left the rest of the family in Rio Grande do Sul and ventured north with three other friends who struck out with him to make their fortunes. They could buy 10 or more hectares in Mina Gerais for every one they sold in the south. Much of the Seibt family still resides in Rio Grande do Sul and came up for the wedding.
Rogerio had to clear the cerrado (brush/tree covered savanna) to farm and even had to haul their water to the farm in buckets. After the first rough year the four friends who had come together reportedly met to decide whether to stay and made the choice to tough it out, which paid off. All became successful. One of them owns the venue where the wedding reception was held at.
Cowboys in southern Brazil are called Gauchos and the Seibt soybean farm and seed processing company in Minas Gerais is called Sementes Gaucha. You can actually Google this and see a short video of their operation. They produce 2,000 hectares of soybeans for seed themselves and contract with farmers for another 4000 hectares of soybeans. They grew six varieties last year with genetics licensed from Bayer and an Argentine company. They built their soybean processing plant on the farm in 2006 and now bag seed in 1 metric ton sacks. They obviously have a very diversified operation.
There are many differences between U.S. and Brazilian weddings. In U.S. weddings, the attendants stand up with the prospective bride and groom but in Brazilian weddings, it is instead the parents that stand up with them. They do not have attendants like with American weddings but couples who support them that are seated in front rows behind the bride and groom. They are also the ones who sign as witnesses. Our son and daughter in law had 20 couples support them, which is not unusual. The wedding did not start until 8:30 p.m. The reception was directly after and literally the party lasted until the sun came up at 6 a.m. the following morning.
My brother and I lasted until the 3:15 a.m. American bus shuttle ride back to the hotel. My wife and the others stayed until dawn. That was not a lot of sleep until the next party started the following afternoon at 1 p.m. If Brazilians could build roads and railroads as well as they party at weddings it would be one heck of a competitive country.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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