field work

Farmers in most areas of the state are about wrapped up on their small grains, corn and canola and are now looking to start on the later season crops such as soybean and sunflower, while other farmers, in a few isolated areas, are just getting a good start on their planting progress.

Kidder County, in central part of the state is one of the areas where a lot of the crop has been planted and some small grain fields are already starting to green up, according to Penny Nester, Kidder County Extension agent.

“It helps when you have a lot of sand in the county – that dries things out a little quicker,” Nester said. “Most of the small grains are seeded with just a little wheat left to put in, and I would say 75 percent of the corn and 60 percent of the soybeans have been seeded. We are still a little bit behind when it comes to those calendar dates, but all-in-all we are doing pretty good.”

She also estimates that half of the sunflower acres had been seeded as of May 27 and growers with cattle are now starting to look at planting some forage crops.

The rain prior to the Memorial Day weekend was welcomed since the area around Steele, N.D., did get the heavy early spring snowfall.

“The thing most people are concerned about now is getting those growing degree days up where they should be and getting some warm weather so we can get some germination,” she said. “A lot of people used seed treatments this year, but if you have a lot of cold weather the seed treatment isn’t going to help that much.”

She also expects very little prevented planting this year in her area except for traditionally low areas, and she feels growers already have a plan for those areas that might involve warm season forage crops that will be going in later in the year.

In the northeast, some growers along the Red River are just getting into their fields due to flooding conditions from the river, while other areas have about wrapped up small grains, canola and corn planting, according to Lesley Lubenow, area Extension agronomist at the Langdon Research Extension Center. Also in the Rolette County area it never seems to warm up as fast in the spring, and planting is slightly further behind at this time.

Lubenow did notice some sprayers parked next to fields that are likely being made ready to spray for the flea beetles on some early planted canola fields.

“The canola is just starting to pop out of the ground and this is when the plants are the most tender and most susceptible to flea beetle damage,” she said. “Sometimes you can’t really tell the canola is just emerging unless you get out of the pickup and walk the fields. The flea beetles are hungry and there isn’t a lot of other food for them right now so as soon as these fields come up they are going to start eating the canola. If you get past 20 percent of the seedlings being eaten you need to apply a post insecticide.”

Around Memorial Day, several of the northern areas reported temperatures below freezing in the early morning, but Lubenow has not heard of any frost damage to canola at this time.

Finally, she doesn’t except to see many prevented plant acres in the northeast region of the state, in fact most farmers were glad to see the rain around the Memorial Day weekend.

Western North Dakota

Snow fell across most of the southwestern region the third weekend in May, while rain fell throughout the rest of the week, from May 19-25, with amounts totaling more than an inch of moisture. The exception is the northwest region, where rainfall was about a half inch of rain.

“On May 18, the average bare soil temperature in Dickinson dropped down to 40 degrees. It was quite the temperature swing in Dickinson with a high air temperature of 82 degrees on May 15 and a low of 31 degrees on May 18,”said Ryan Buetow, NDSU cropping systems specialist at Dickinson Research Extension Center.

With cold and wet temperatures, there has not been a whole lot of growing degree days accumulating and while there are some earlier planted small grains and canola emerged thanks to the warm weather on May 15, growth has been slow,” Buetow said.

 While many welcome the moisture, it is keeping producers out of the field and delaying planting and spraying.

 In Dunn County, producers didn’t receive the snow that many others on the western side of the state received in April. Because of that, they were able to get their spring wheat and other small grains planted in a normal time frame.

“We have had some wet spots, but we have had planting progress,” said Greg Benz, NDSU Dunn County Extension agent. “A few guys are planting dryland soybeans, and have found rolling the beans helps with all the Glacier rocks in this country.”

For ranchers in Dunn, there are concerns about hay. The last three years have not been the best for hay stocks. They are hoping for timely rains.

McKenzie County in the north central region is having a difficult time with planting due to the weather.

“We had a lot of cold, snowy, freezing weather in April and the same in May. Over the last couple of weeks there has been rain, snow and cold soils,” said Devan Leo, NDSU McKenzie County Extension agent.

Leo said there would probably be a significant amount of prevented plant in her county, especially because rain poured straight down for hours the third weekend in May.

“With the soil not in good condition, producers don’t want to lose money on seed that won’t germinate,” Leo said.

In addition, it is getting late to plant, which worries producers about frost.

The western side of McKenzie County had significant flooding after the Yellowstone receded.

“Most of the fields are drying out, but there are still some wet spots,” Leo said. She thinks there are sugarbeets being planted, along with small grains.

According to NDAWN, for the week ending May 24, and not including recent rain, Berthold recorded .52 inches of rain; Williston, .43 inches of rain; Hazen, 1.57 inches; Hettinger, 1.61 inches; Bowman, 1.57 inches; Mott, 1.26 inches; Beach, on the North Dakota/Montana border, 1.14 inches; and Dickinson, 1.14 inches.


As the crop gets planted, growers back in Kidder County and around the state are turning their attention to their cattle herds and Penny Nester thinks several producers were branding calves in the mud this past weekend.

“We are starting to see some pairs moved out on pasture, although we are still slow at grass emergence due to the cold weather,” she said. “However, most have some pastures of tame grass brome and Kentucky bluegrass they can turn the cows out now and save their native range until later in the season.