beet harvesting

Sugarbeet harvesting equipment sat silent on Sunday, Oct. 14. The sugarbeet harvest at the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative started up again on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

Weather conditions brought harvesting to a halt in most areas of the state. In the latest USDA National Agriculture Statistics Report, it was reported there were only 1.7 days suitable for field work for the week ending Oct. 14, 2018. As a result, harvesting progress lagged behind the normal pace for most of the late season crops.

The soybean harvest was pegged at 37 complete, compared to 70 percent at this time last year and 70 percent for the five-year average. The NASS report listed 47 percent of the sugarbeet lifted, which is well behind the 85 percent figure last year and the average pace of 82 percent. Eighty-four percent of the potatoes were harvested, compared to 91 percent last year.

The later harvested crops were still close to the normal harvest rate. Twelve percent of the corn was harvested, which is actually ahead of last year’s 7 percent figure and near the 13 percent average pace. The sunflower harvest was also slightly ahead of average with 15 percent of the acreage harvest compared to 11 percent last year and 12 percent on average. The dry bean harvest was 94 percent complete and that is 1 percent ahead of last year’s harvesting pace.

The cool conditions also resulted in a slower emergence rate for the winter wheat crop. The service reported 85 percent of the winter wheat crop was planted, 2 points ahead of last year at this time, however 59 percent of the crop had emerged, behind the 66 percent figure last year and the average emergence rate at this time. The winter wheat crop was rated at 1 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 27 percent fair, 58 percent good and 10 percent excellent.

Most of Kidder County missed the heavy snow that fell in mid-October, according to Extension agent Penny Nester. The snow basically ended at the eastern end of the county and they only had 2-3 inches of snow fall in the Steele, N.D. area. Harvest was held up most of October as growers wait for the weather to improve.

“Some producers are still trying to get some hay put up also, so things are sort of getting tangled up with each other,” Nester said.

Producers were able to get about half of their soybeans harvested in September, when harvesting conditions were more favorable and she estimates that figure could be up to 60 to 65 percent now. Some started combining corn and there is a question on every producer’s mind as to how they are going to store these crops once they are taken off the field.

“For that reason, I don’t think there is a big rush to get things harvested, since there is a not market demand for the crops right now,” Nester said. “We have been answering a lot of questions on storage options and what is a safe moisture level to take the crop off at and be able to store them successfully.”

Some growers in the Kidder County area also dug potatoes, since there is a significant amount of potatoes grown for the processing plant in Jamestown.

Pasture and range conditions – Most of the cattle remained on pasture but some producers moved the cows closer to home in the event we have another fall heavy snow event like parts of the state just experienced.

“Many producers are also trying to work in their pregnancy check and vaccinations done while they have some wet days when they can’t harvest.”

Producers are still putting up late season forages such as sorghum Sudan grass and Nester thinks the forage supply will be tight as they go into the winter.

“Some people are still short in this area. We had so much rain in June that a lot of the haying did get backed up and delayed,” she said. “We had a decent hay crop, but we could still use more.”

The pasture and range conditions were rated 6 percent very poor, 14 percent poor, 44 percent fair, 34 percent good and 2 percent excellent. Stock water supplies were said to be 5 percent very short, 27 percent short, 64 percent adequate and 4 percent surplus.