Small grain pic

The small grain harvest has started in some regions of the state

The 2019 small grain harvest is about to begin in all but the extreme northern areas of the state.

Greg Endres, Extension area agronomist at the Carrington Research Extension Center, said they have started harvesting some barley at the REC and he has also noted a few barley fields swathed in the region around Carrington. The wheat harvest should follow in another ten days.

“We are anticipating a very nice small grain crop and hopefully the quality will hold if the rains continue,” Endres said. “For the row crops, I think people are quite surprised at how well they do look, given the challenges we had getting the corn, soybeans and dry beans established. There is some variability in fields, but in general it’s doing okay.”

He noted producers are a bit behind in growing degree days, but they are not at a high risk of the crops not maturing, unless the region experiences an early killing frost. The early seeded corn is in the early silking-to-blister stage and most soybeans are now in the pod development stage, with some of the earlier planted fields actually starting some seed formation. The dry bean crop is starting to set seed and is looking very good at this time.

“Our dry bean trials here at the Center are looking as good as I can ever remember,” Endres noted.

There are also a few more sunflowers planted in the area this year and they are also doing well, with most blooming right now, but haven’t seen any yet with the ray petals dropping, which indicates the next development stage – R6.

Unfortunately, there are a few pockets that have had heavy rainfall in July, such as in northern Barnes and southern Griggs counties.

Putting up the hay crop has been a challenge, Endres reported. There have been days with high humidity that resulted in a heavy dew overnight and it is slow to dry off in the morning. 

Moving over to the eastern edge of the state, Traill County Extension agent Alyssa Scheve said some of the small grains have already been combined, but she hasn’t heard any yield or quality information yet from those growers. The beans are now blooming and those with sugarbeets are getting ready to start the pre-harvest lift.

“The crops are looking pretty good, when you consider the hand Mother Nature dealt us this year for weather,” Scheve said. “The weather problems actually started last fall when we had the extra moisture and terrible harvest conditions. Then we had a late and cold spring, so when things finally got planted, they didn’t make their appearance for a couple weeks after. So it was a very slow start, but things are rolling and trying their best. This humid weather has been really good for the row crops – they really like that.”

The wet spring resulted in a lot or prevented plant acres, however most were able to get some cover crops planted as a way of using some of that surplus moisture.

Western North Dakota

Timely rains and hailstorms are determining if harvest will go well for producers in the western region of the state.

In Burke County, Dan Folske, Extension agent in ag and natural resources, said the lack of moisture in the beginning of the growing season is still affecting crops.

“Our hay crop is very short, and producers have not been able to put up much hay for the winter,” Folske said.

With the annual cash crops, some producers who had a good start in the spring due to no-till and stored water in the soil are doing “okay.”

Most of the moisture received in Burke County was received through two heavy storms.

“We received 4.5 inches of rain here in Bowbells in two storms, when that is what we usually receive in timely rains throughout the entire growing season,” he said.

During the thunderstorm on Saturday, Aug. 3, golf-ball sized hail fell north of Bowbells, damaging crops that were close to harvest.

“I don’t know how wide of a swath that hail struck, but overall in the county, crops are going to be coming in below the county average. We have had crops the last several years that have been above the county average,” Folske said. “In one area, producers received a half inch of rain, while a half mile away, producers received none.

Over in Pierce County, producers are contending with a poor hay crop and poor annual crops due to dry conditions.

Hay is yielding about a fourth of what it normally does.

In southwestern North Dakota where rain has been timely, whether or not hail or a tornado hit fields will determine harvest.

Ashley Uekert, Extension agent in ag and natural resources in Golden Valley County, says a hail storm on July 17 damaged crops in the area.

“The crops were looking really good before the hail hit. In fact, it was the wettest July we have had since I started here many years ago,” Uekert said.

The rain has actually hindered hay crops. Producers have been trying to cut hay, but it continues to rain. In addition, the hay that has been cut is not drying out in the windrows.

Those producers with fields not affected by hail have good crops and will be beginning harvest at mid-month with peas.

In the southwestern region, the sunflowers and corn have taken advantage of a long stretch of hot days in the 80s and 90s. While there have been light rain showers in the early mornings for a couple of days a week, by mid-morning, the sun has come out and temperatures have been hot.

According to NDAWN, for the week beginning July 28, the cities of Berthold recorded .83 inches of rain; Watford City, .87 inches; Williston, .12 inches; Hazen, 1.15 inches; Hettinger, .02 inches; Bowman, .01 inches; Bowbells, .56 inches; Mott, .07 inches; Minot, .17 inches; Beach, on the North Dakota/Montana border, 0 inches and Dickinson, 0 inches.


Cattle owners have had a phenomenal year for grazing and grass production, Alyssa Scheve noted.

“We had a lot of happy cows in Traill County with the good grazing and haying has been a very popular task here in the last couple weeks,” she said. “Producers have had their second cutting of alfalfa already and it looks like there will be good quality bales coming off, since they seemed to get the sunshine when they needed it and the rain when they needed it.

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