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Rural Brewster farm hosts international group

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BREWSTER — Surrounded by lush green fields of corn and soybeans, a group of 30 individuals visited the Tom Busch farm in rural Brewster Tuesday afternoon to learn about crop development and get an idea for how the Midwest crops will impact the global marketplace come harvest.

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Sponsored by the Macquarie Group, an Australian-based investment bank that works in global agriculture risk management, the individuals hailed from 10 different countries and had a variety of backgrounds.

“The group represents our client base — hedge funds and asset managers from all around the world, and our corporate business clients as well,” said Chris Gadd, who led the tour.

From a representative of China’s largest soybean crusher to feed processors from France, soy processors from Thailand and traders from Wall Street, all were learning first-hand about crop production and the factors that have caused extreme variability in fields across the region.

After arriving in Omaha, Neb., on Monday, the group worked its way north to Worthington, and then on to Mankato by Tuesday evening. The rest of the week will take them to southeast Minnesota, where thousands of acres were never planted this spring due to flooding, and then south to Des Moines, Iowa, and east to Peoria, Ill., before a Friday arrival in Chicago.

“We do crop tours all year-round,” Gadd said. “You can’t look at agricultural markets without looking at the corn and beans in the Midwest.”

The Macquarie group also leads crop tours through South America, China and “all around the world to monitor the crops and stay on top of the fundamentals to keep our clients educated,” he added.

While the group had only seen parts of Nebraska and Iowa before arriving in southwest Minnesota, Gadd is well aware of the potential for a good crop from the Midwest. He spoke of the greater probability of high yields in Illinois and Indiana this year.

“Everything looks relatively average through Nebraska, through Iowa and into Minnesota,” he said. “The eastern corn and bean crops look superior to the Midwest. Those crops should help maintain that supply at the international level.

“The consensus is everyone is concerned about the potential for that first frost,” Gadd said. “If that comes too (early), you’ll start to deteriorate the yield potential of the crops.”

The potential for an early frost is on the mind of area agriculturalists.

Chad Anderson, a Pioneer agronomist and account manager in Nobles and Rock counties, said crops in this area of southwest Minnesota are about 40 growing degree days behind average, and 150 growing degree days behind this same time last year.

Much-needed rains arrived last weekend, but now, Anderson said the crops need some heat.

“We’re very happy with the crop we have,” added Busch.

As the visitors eyed his plots of Pioneer brand corn and soybeans, Busch explained everything from expected yields to narrow-row spacing, emergence and seed populations.

Busch is a fourth-generation producer of seed for Pioneer.

“There’s a lot of challenges with raising seed,” he told the group. “The goal is to raise the highest quality.”

The Macquarie Group’s visit to southwest Minnesota was coordinated by AgStar Financial Services. Andy Huneke, director of agribusiness for AgStar, met up with the group once they arrived in southwest Minnesota.

“We’re making several stops to see what crop development looks like,” Huneke said. “We gave them an overview of AgStar’s territory and what we feel the crops kind of look like.

“They’ve seen a lot of fairly good crops,” he added.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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