spring wheat

Spring wheat is coming up well thanks to subsoil moisture and recent showers.

Spring planting was in its final stages across most of North Dakota during the second week of June.

While the eastern region of the state has normal topsoil and subsoil moisture, with some areas in excess, many western and central regions need more rain to help the new seedlings develop.

All areas are reporting strong winds, which can limit spraying opportunities, and there are several reports of various insects making their appearance in fields.

Clair Keene, NDSU Extension specialist in cropping systems at Williston Research Extension Center (WREC) in the northwestern region, said her area is experiencing dry topsoil.

“We are dry here. While scattered showers dropped a quarter to an inch of rain across the northwest on Saturday (June 6), most of Williams County missed that and got nothing or less than a tenth of an inch,” Keene said. “The northwestern region has had very little rain this spring, with the only real rain since snow melt being about half an inch over Memorial Day weekend.”

Keene points out that there is probably still some subsoil moisture out there, but it is below 3 inches deep, so “it isn’t helping germinating seeds much.”

Winter wheat at WREC is heading out already, which is 10 days early.

“The winter wheat is really getting pushed along by the lack of moisture,” she said. “Stands are coming up spotty in places where they were planted into dry dirt. If crops were planted early, then emergence was better.”

In Traill County, in the eastern region of the state, Jill Lagein, NDSU Extension agent based in Hillsboro, said planting is nearing an end.

“Planting has wrapped up for the most part with the last couple days of rain we’ve had. The last three weeks were amazing weeks to be planting – farmers really got a lot in and the crops that are up look fantastic,” Lagein said, adding weeds are coming up “aggressively.”

Prevented plant acres in Traill County are expected to be higher than in normal years. 

In the southwestern region, Ryan Buetow, NDSU Extension Cropping Systems specialist at Dickinson Research Extension Center, said a majority of acres are planted and sprayed in the southwestern part of the state.

“Scattered showers brought some much needed rain to many in the region, but many are still in need of more moisture,” he said.

Buetow has not noticed any major disease issues, yet, but insect issues are making an impact this year.

“There are multiple pockets of cutworm and wireworm issues, flea beetles in canola, and pea leaf weevil in peas,” he said.

Rachel Wald, NDSU Extension agent in McHenry County, in the north central region of the state, said crops and pasture conditions are “looking better than they have in the last three years, which were drought years.” 

“We did have a hard winter in terms of the amount of crop still out there, but the wet fall helped this spring,” Wald said. “A lot of farmers were able to get most of their 2019 harvest done by the end of February, but there are still some fields that are being combined. Those fields are becoming fewer and fewer.”

If fields were ready to plant this spring, they had some subsoil moisture to plant into throughout the county.

In parts of McHenry County, they are still only about a “week away from drought-like conditions,” and in other areas, there are the low ground areas with mud and wet spots.

Wald has heard reports of farmers finding canola flea beetles, but they were not at an economic threshold.

“I’m sure we will be seeing more disease this year because there was so much crop that stayed in the field last fall,” she said.

Wald said her region has received rain in varying amounts across the county.

According to National Ag Statistics Service, North Dakota, some 74 percent of soybeans have been planted, behind 91 percent for the five-year average.

Spring wheat, durum, and canola are mostly finished being planted. Corn planting is 87 percent, behind the average, and sunflowers are 60 percent planted, also behind the average.

Sugarbeets are 97 percent in good-to-excellent condition, while spring wheat condition is 84 percent and winter wheat is 76 percent.

Some 9 percent of spring wheat is already jointed, and canola is 56 percent emerged. Dry beans are 24 percent emerged and behind the average.

Alfalfa is 33 percent in fair condition and 62 percent in good-to-excellent condition.

“Pastures are slow to green up and short, so there’s not as much forage out there as there usually is for cows at this time of year,” Keene concluded.