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Corn, sunflower harvest gets started throughout the state

Kristen Kukla

Kristen Kukla, NDSU Dunn County Extension agent, introduces speakers during Dickinson Research Extension Center’s 2022 Soil Health Workshop.

With warm fall afternoons, soybean harvest has been speeding along across the state, with many farmers reporting good yields and test weights in the eastern region of the state.

“Harvest is going very quickly for soybeans due to the dry conditions. So far, I have heard that test weights and yields are coming in good in Cass County,” said Kyle Aasand, NDSU Extension agent in Cass County. “We of course had a very late spring due to wet conditions, but then we had pretty favorable weather for most of the growing season.”

A series of cold fronts moving through the region brought very windy conditions to western and central North Dakota during the second week in October, but these conditions didn’t affect harvest progress.

After a hard frost in early October, corn and sunflower harvest got started shortly after.

“Early corn harvest has started, especially in places where the drought started mid-summer and things were stressed and drying down early,” said Clair Keene, NDSU Extension agronomist in corn and small grains. “I’m guessing farmers will try to rely more on field drying of the corn this year to reduce costs, but we don't get much drying in November here with cold temps, so waiting only works so long.”

Keene said with the very late spring, some corn did get planted very late, so there could be some concern in those fields.

“For those who chose longer-season hybrids with the goal of higher yield, they might not have reached maturity. When corn is at maturity, it is about 35 percent moisture,” she said. “Harvesting goes best with corn at roughly 20-25 percent moisture. But to store corn, it needs to be 15.5 percent moisture, so yes, drying is often needed.”

With warm temperatures in October, corn was drying 2.5-3 percentage points per week. To get from 35 percent down to 25 percent, corn needs about 3-4 weeks.

“I expect most corn to get harvested in late October, early November, as normal,” Keene said.

Meanwhile, sugarbeet harvest is underway in the Red River Valley.

After pre-pile the end of September, the Red River Valley sugarbeet full harvest campaign is going on now. Beet farmers earlier planted an additional 50,000 acres to help compensate for yield on a per ton basis, and after pre-pile, farmers are digging a 26-ton crop.

“While we had a wet spring and there were challenges, the sugarbeet is a very responsive crop and the crop responded well with timely rains throughout the summer. The crop put on good tonnage and good sugar,” said Harrison Weber, executive director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.

Out in the western regions, Kristen Kukla, NDSU Dunn County Extension agent, said there have been definite challenges with moisture this growing season in Dunn County, while the counties to the south had mostly adequate rainfall.

“Dunn County received a glimmer of hope at the beginning of the summer with a few heavy rain showers hitting the area. At the beginning of July, the spout was turned off. This set back crops in our area and dried up some of our pastures and water sources,” Kukla said. “We had pockets of small rain showers across the area since July, but as a whole, these showers were not enough to keep us ahead of drought conditions.”

Small grains are mostly wrapped up in Dunn County, but there were problems with grasshoppers throughout the county and all over the western and central regions of the state.

“I have heard reports for wheat coming off the field ranging from 40-60 bushels per acre, and corn silage has been chopped,” she said. “Grasshoppers hit our county in pockets. I have heard mixed reviews on the impact grasshoppers have had on corn in the county.”

Kukla said the grasshoppers caused a pollination problem in the county.

“Grasshoppers would eat the tassels, which hindered the plant’s ability to pollinate. The growth of the corn plant was also hindered by the grasshoppers eating into the plant, as well,” she said.

Corn harvest started in Dunn County the second week in October.

“There are a few combines rolling in the county, but I expect to see a full-blown corn harvest in the county this week,” Kukla said in mid-October.

For livestock, Kukla said producers are looking at marketing at the sales barn and will soon begin weaning calves.

“We were fortunate enough to see pastures full of forage this year and it is holding us over for fall grazing. Cattle are out grazing pastures, and producers plan to keep them out grazing until about the first snowfall.”

Kukla is a new NDSU Extension agent in Dunn County. She grew up in Forbes and graduated from NDSU. She previously worked for the American Ag Radio Network before taking the position with NDSU Extension.

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