corn chopping

Chopping corn is an activity for some livestock producers now.

Usually by this time of year the small grain harvest is completed, but frequent rain showers in many areas of the state has pushed harvest completion time back and also lowered crop quality, according to Extension agents Angie Johnson in Steele County and Dickey County’s Breana Kiser.

“It has been a rough going here for the small grain harvest,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of poor falling numbers and yields have been across the board. Some have been near average, while others have really struggled to hit that average mark.”

Johnson noted some have also reported scab problems, not because of the neglect to apply a fungicide, but instead the frequent rains and high humidity levels overpowered the fungicide applications.

The edible bean harvest in the Finley area is just getting started, according to Johnson. Some growers have applied a desiccant to dry down the crop and for the most part they are expecting a good potential edible bean crop. However, the high moisture conditions could also result in a high white mold issues in some bean fields.

“They always say August rains makes soybeans and we have beans that are full right to the top of the plant and now is just making sure we get enough warm weather so they reach physiological maturity and reduce the number of green beans that are harvested,” Johnson said.

The corn crop in Steele County really needs some more heat units to bring the crop to maturity. They are behind in their growing degree units and haven’t caught up to where they should be.

“This week has helped big time with temperatures reaching almost 90 degrees a couple of days and warm temperatures during the evening and nighttime hours, but we would love to have a couple more weeks of that type of weather to get the crop mature and starting to dry down,” Johnson said.

The small grain harvest isn’t wrapped up yet around the Ellendale area in the extreme southern region of the state, according to Kiser.

Some of the soybean fields are now starting to drop leaves.

“The recent warm weather has sped up that process, she said. “I did stop in a corn field yesterday (Sept. 18) and that corn was starting to dent. It will be interesting to see what the corn yields end up as this year. The field I was in had ears that were a little smaller than what we normally see. We definitely don’t need an early frost for that corn.”

Dickey County had a large number of prevented plant acres this spring and much of that was seeded to cover crops, Kiser reported. But some have complained that continued wet conditions in those areas has made any type of spraying for weed control impossible.

Western North Dakota

In the southwestern region, moisture, especially in the first week of September, has affected crops and limited when producers have been able to get into the fields to harvest.

Many producers were able to get their wheat harvested, but there were quality issues at the elevator due to rain every few days in August/September.

“We have really low falling numbers with wheat sprouting and issues with disease and ergot in wheat,” said Hannah Nordby, Adams County Extension agent.

Sunflowers are “hit and miss” in Adams County, but most flowers are doing well in the western region. Heads are beginning to drop in the southwestern region, but in many areas, there is still some green from late planting in the spring.

“Some sunflowers are doing great, while others are battling some stem lodging issues,” Nordby said. “Corn is looking good, but we need some heat to get everything dented and looking good.”

According to Ryan Buetow, Extension cropping systems specialist at Dickinson Research Extension Center, the southwestern region has been receiving moisture and many producers are behind on harvest.

“Wheat and canola harvest is all over the board with some finished up and some not being able to start yet, with most somewhere in between,” Buetow said.

Scab and other diseases have been found in fields. Head disease, especially scab, has been a major issue for many and there are some reports of sprouting.

“Sunflowers are looking great so far, but the weather is creating a perfect storm for diseases,” he said.

Corn and sunflowers still need more heat units. On Sept. 15-17, temperatures were warmer and even into the 90s one of those days, but the weather grew windy on Sept. 18.

“Many are concerned with current crop maturity in row crops and potential frost damage,” Buetow said.

In the northwestern region, heavy rain has interfered with harvest.

Just like the rest of western North Dakota, sunflowers need more time to dry out in the fields.

In McKenzie County, sugarbeets will have until the end of September to gather more heat units after heavy rains. The factory was not able to have early pre-pile, due to muddy conditions.


According to Nordby, livestock in the western part of the state are still out on pasture. Livestock producers are giving pre-weaning shots and preg-checking.

“I’ve heard reports that there may be higher rates of opens (no pregnancy) than normal this fall,” she said.

Pastures are looking good throughout, and with the constant rain, pastures are still green.

“The calves are doing well. We just hope prices pick up,” Nordby added.

According to NDAWN, for the week starting Sept. 8, Berthold recorded 2.99 inches of rain; Williston, 3.41 inches of rain; Hazen, 2.58 inches; Hettinger, 1.46 inches; Bowman, 1.67 inches; Mott, 1.80 inches; Beach, on the North Dakota/Montana border, 3.17 inches,

Watford City, 2.55 inches; and Dickinson, 3.37 inches.

For livestock in the central and eastern regions of the state, Johnson said the frequent rain this summer has made for ideal fall grazing conditions and eliminated any concern as far as water resources for the cattle. It has also been a good summer for a quantity of forages like alfalfa and grass hay, however there is likely to be quality issues with much of the hay that has been put up.

“It is going to be really important for producers this year to test their hay samples,” she said. “You may think you are feeding good alfalfa, but in reality the nutrient levels might not be where they need to be for your cows.

“Forage testing is something I am really pushing this year because of difficulty getting the crop up.”

Grazing conditions continue to look good in Dickey County due to excessive rains and producers have harvested a good hay crop. Since most of the producers in this area do have cattle, the prevented plant acres and moving the harvest date on that land up to Sept. 1, has resulted in an even larger forage supply to carry into the winter months.