By Tara Mathews
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Franzi Wunsch, a former Lester Prairie foreign exchange student from Germany, and her father, Burkhard, recently visited local farms and farm equipment dealerships.
“He said he loves that people are so friendly here,” Franzi said.
Burkhard and Franzi began their journey to local dealerships and farms with Allen Stender and his family July 7.
They visited Midwest Machinery in Howard Lake, Arnold’s in Glencoe, and Lano’s Equipment in Norwood.
Burkhard was able to drive some of the large equipment at the dealerships.
“At first, he said, ‘I can’t drive that,’ but then he did anyways,” Franzi commented.
The cost of the tractors almost detoured Burkhard from driving, but the dealers insisted he try.
The equipment Burkhard liked driving the most was a Case tractor that had tracks, he said.
The equipment used in the US is about 30 percent larger than what is used in Germany, according to Burkhard.
He was most impressed with the large, foldable sprayers, and the large New Holland tractors he drove, he added.
The owner of Lano’s shared his private collection of antique tractors, as well.
The largest rig in the US in the 1960s is consistent with the rigs currently in use in Germany, Burkhard said.
They also visited the cheese store at Bongards’ Creameries, and local farms, including Kevin Lachermeier’s in Mayer; and Rick and Mindy Jeurissen’s in Lester Prairie, which is most similar to farms in Germany, Burkhard said.
Crops in Germany are different than US crops, Burkhard noted.
In Germany, they plant winter crops in the fall season and harvest in early summer.
The crops they plant include winter canola, barley, and wheat.
They will also plant eriticale, at times, which is a combination of wheat and another grain, Burkhard said.
“If the ground is better, sometimes we will plant sugar beets, corn, or potatoes,” Franzi added.
In Germany, the measurements used are hectare and tons; one hectare is equal to 2.4711 acres.
One hectare will yield about 10 tons of wheat, nine tons of barley, or 4.5 tons of canola.
Currently, German farmers are working on harvesting winter barley, according to Burkhard.
“I have a farm at home, it’s time to start harvesting,” Burkhard said.
In mid-August German farmers will begin harvesting canola, he added.
German farmers do not plant summer crops unless winter crops die, because they do not get as much yield with summer crops.
The climate in Germany is more temperate than in the US.
“It doesn’t get as cold, or as hot in Germany, which is why summer crops don’t work” Franzi noted.
Burkhard expressed his appreciation to the dealerships for letting him drive equipment; the Jeurissens, and Lachermeiers for letting him tour their farms; the Stender family for setting up the tours and taking him; and Kevin and Holly Oestreich and family for hosting him and Franzi.
“This is my first trip in 30 years, and it was great,” Burkhard added.
Burkhard returned to Germany after one week, and Franzi will stay for one month, but the memories they made are unforgettable, they said.