Planting, preparing fields

Clarence Laub, who farms south of Elgin, sprays fields ahead of seeding.

Many producers in the state have been able to get into their fields and either prepare for planting, or in some cases, begin planting for the 2020 growing season.

However, in some areas there are problems with flooding in the low areas, wet spots in the fields, and/or crops still in the field from last year.

In Barnes County, Randy Grueneich, NDSU Extension agent, said he knows of only one producer who is actually seeding. That producer is planting wheat.

“Our fields are still saturated,” Grueneich said.

When the soil is dry enough, producers in Barnes County will be planting soybean, corn, wheat and a few small-acre crops, such as barley, rye and edible beans.

In Kidder County, Penny Nester, NDSU Extension agent based in Steele, said producers in the southern part of the county were out seeding the last week of April.

“If they are not seeding, then they are spreading fertilizer,” Nester said.

In the county, producers are planting mostly small grains, with oats, hard red spring wheat, and barley going in, as well.

“Some are getting ready for corn planting in the next few days, as long as we maintain temperatures,” she added. “The north end of the county is a little cooler and is slower at getting started since soil temperatures are still cool and more roads are flooded up there.”

Producers are still plagued by flooding, especially in low areas.

“Most of the highland is dry, but with a lot of lowland flooding and road flooding, actually getting to those dry fields will be a challenge for many farmers in the area. We do need rain, but we also need some areas to dry out so we have access,” she said.

In addition, some Kidder producers are out finishing up corn harvest and cleaning up areas from a wet year in 2019.

 “Some are trying to even out ruts in fields and hay ground from last fall,” Nester said. “It looks to be a challenging year for spring planting again this year.”

In southwestern North Dakota, producers have started seeding.

Ben Kuhn, who farms south of Dickinson, began seeding canola on April 27.

“We just finished seeding our spring wheat and are moving into canola,” Kuhn said, whose canola will be followed by corn, soybean and sunflower.

He said their farm fields have good subsoil moisture, but the topsoil is beginning to dry out.

“While our subsoil moisture is good, we could really use about an inch of rain. We haven’t had good moisture since last fall,” he added.

In far southwestern North Dakota, around Bowman County, producers have started seeding wheat.

Max Robison, Bowman County Extension agent, who has his own registered Red Angus operation, said a lot of guys have been out seeding or spreading fertilizer during the last week of April.

“Some guys are lightly discing through last year’s wet spots in the fields to aerate the soil,” Robison said. “There was quite a bit of moisture last year, and we had fungal diseases in the wheat. That caused wheat to sprout.”

Fields are starting to dry out on their own with several days of significant wind and temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

In Morton County, in the south central part of the state, many producers are seeding.

“Most are working on getting wheat in the ground right now,” said Renae Gress, Morton County Extension agent.

While the subsoil moisture is adequate, Gress says the topsoil is getting dry.

According to National Ag Statistics Service, the percentage of small grains being planted ranges from 1-4 percent seeded. Winter wheat jointed is 9 percent and 70 percent is in good condition.

According to NDAWN, for the week ending April 24, Berthold recorded no rain; Carrington, .09 inches of rain; Watford City, .19 inches; Williston, .06 inches; Hazen, .03 inches; Turtle Lake, .23 inches; Hettinger, .11 inches; Bowman, .21 inches; Mott, .17 inches; Mandan, no rain; Minot, .01 inches; Beach, .48 inches; and Dickinson, .13 inches.