When warm weather is upon the prairies, things really start to happen. During recent travels to North Dakota, I explored the state’s south central region to expand my agricultural knowledge of wheat and livestock production – which is best accomplished with field travel. As an AdFarm PR Road Warrior, much of my time out of the office is spent working with growers and producers which continue to enhance my knowledge about agriculture along with the challenges and triumphs that impact the industry.
On the journey I visited the home office of AdFarmer Katie Pinke in Wishek, ND, which helped me understand how Katie stays engaged with agriculture day in and day out — so far away from those of us in Kansas City, St. Louis, Fargo, Calgary and Guelph.
Included is a pictorial of my trip to Wishek (a small, yet mighty agricultural community). Also included are facts about the town and North Dakota agriculture.
Upon entering Wishek, a HUGE community welcome sign proudly touts the town’s claim as the Sauerkraut Capital of ND. Wishek has a population of 875 with approximately 375 households.
Wishek was named after rancher John H. Wishek. The town hosts two restaurants, five churches, a community park and swimming pool, a grocery, a hardware/lumber store, multiple farm machinery dealers, two grain elevators, two hair salons, and its own school system. A well-established farming community, Wishek contributes to the states $5.8 billion in cash receipts from agricultural production.
AdFarm West (home of Katie Pinke) is open and ready for business! To note, 24 percent of North Dakota workers are farmers and ranchers or are employed in farm-related jobs. We are proud to have our North Dakota AdFarmers included in these stats.
During a break from meetings — we drove to the Wishek John Deere dealership to check out the new arrivals of machinery. In North Dakota, production agriculture is the largest sector of the state’s gross sales – contributing 25 percent of its economic base.
We then ventured to the Case IH dealership on the other side of town (which took less than one minute) to check out their new 4-wheel drive tractors. There are 32,000 farms and ranches in North Dakota. The average size operation is 1,238 acres.
No trip to Wishek is complete until you stop in at Farmers Elevator Inc. for a quick hello and cup of coffee. Farmers Elevator is one of hundreds of local facilities of this kind across the state. Wheat is the number one commodity in statewide cash sales. North Dakota growers produce enough wheat each year for 15.5 billion loaves of bread.
Right in the heart of downtown is the Pinke Lumber Company. This is the one (and only) place where area businesses, residents, growers and ranchers can buy anything and everything to fix, repair, remodel and/or build. It is the only lumber company within 100 miles. Pinke Lumber is a critical component in keeping area farmers, ranchers and agri-business up and running 24-7.
Like most rural U.S. communities, the Wishek water tower proudly hosts the town name. Notable natives of Wishek include Ted Mann who owned Mann Theatre chain and Graumann’s Chinese Theatre, and Mark Pfeifle, a top national security advisor for President George W. Bush.
At the end of the day, I headed east toward the AdFarm Fargo office. Recent rains had water running across local roads. North Dakota has experienced serious flooding the past two years. Last year the Red River which borders Fargo and Grand Forks set a record flood level. While sand bag efforts saved the major cities along the flood routes, production acres were left underwater in many rural areas which delayed fieldwork and therefore negatively impacting crop forecasts for the North central region of the U.S.
I witnessed the last of the snow across the prairie lands. Warm weather was greening up pastures with cattle expected to return for grazing in the weeks to follow. North Dakota ranches host more than two million head of cattle, which is the second largest source of new wealth in the state. The beef cattle industry contributes $600 million annually to the state’s annual agricultural income.
In summary, my visit to Wishek provided a geographic view of production agriculture at is very best. It was a terrific trip. Somewhat off the regular path from Bismarck to Fargo, but well worth the drive.
What do you learn about agriculture in your travels?