spring planting

“Full steam” was the way Dickey County Extension agent Breana Kiser described the start to planting season for North Dakota farmers. Some of the small grains have already emerged and water is still standing in some fields.

“We are going to have some areas that are definitely going to end up being prevented plant,” Kiser said. “With all of the snow we had this past winter, some of those areas and the wetlands are going to staying full (of water) for sure.”

Farmers have had varying degrees of success at planting in the northeast area of the state, according to Bill Hodous, the Ramsey County Extension agent. Some have made good progress while others are still dragging a little bit.

“If we can get through the weekend, I would say most of the small grains would be in by the middle part of next week, as well as a fair bit of corn and canola,” Hodous said for the week ending May 17.

However, the rain forecasters are predicting for this weekend could slow the planting progress and is the reason he is saying if they get through the weekend.

Normally when small grain planting dates get late, growers will switch some of their acres to corn or canola in his part of the state, but things aren’t so simple this year.

“With the markets like they are, people are really struggling on what to plant,” he said. “I have heard some that are gong to seed a little less wheat and more of the other crops, while others are talking about seeding more wheat and not as much of the other crops. We have some planting peas for the first time this year. Everybody is looking for a magic crop, and right now it doesn’t look like there is a magic crop there.”

For a few farmers in the Devils Lake area they have still needed to wrap up last year’s harvest. Hodous recently saw some farmers combining soybeans and there is still some corn waiting to be harvested, before any spring planting can take place on those acres.

Western North Dakota

Small grains, canola, and pulses continue to be no-till seeded in western North Dakota, and some producers are burning down acres with glyphosate ahead of the planter.

Others, especially in the southwestern region, pull anhydrous tanks in the field in a one-pass system.

In the southwestern region near Bowman, Max Robison, NDSU Bowman County Extension agent, said many producers have been out over the past couple of weeks planting spring crops.

“There’s quite a few guys out planting peas or lentils,” said Robison.

Spring wheat coming up in the southwestern counties looks good.

A few producers planted winter wheat along the counties near the southern border with South Dakota.

“Only a handful of producers have winter wheat in. It is doing good considering the tough winter we had, including the very cold February and late frost,” he added.

Some producers have planted triticale for forage this year and it is doing really well, according to Robison.

In the northeastern region in the Yellowstone Valley, producers are recovering from significant flooding.

In Grant County, Tessa Keller, NDSU Extension agent, said planting in the southwestern to south central region of the state is in full swing.

“The canola is pretty much finished,” Keller said, adding most producers plant no-till in the area.

Keller spotted quite a few producers out planting corn in the region, and noticed spring wheat planting was just getting started.

“Some 10 percent of wheat has been planted since May 6,” she said.

Up in the northwestern region, Jerry Bergman, director of NDSU’s Williston Research Extension Center, said the Yellowstone Valley producers were finished planting spring wheat and sugarbeets.

“There hasn’t been a lot of rain. We could really use some rain to help get crops germinated in the region,” Bergman said.

Planting has been late and producers are just getting started in the northwestern region due to cold soils.

“They are starting to get their pulses in,” he said.

NDAWN shows for the first full week in May, the Berthold area received 0 inches of rain; Minot received .11 inches; Dickinson received .12 inches, while Hettinger received .44; Beach, .12 inches; Bowman, .16 inches; and Williston with .06 inches.

Livestock and grazing conditions

Looking at the livestock situation, Hodous said abortions were up a little this year for cattle producers, but the calving season went well and there was an uncommon number of twins born this year, which seems to be region wide. 

As far as grazing conditions, that is a few weeks off yet in the Devils Lake area.

“You can see green in the pastures and the grass is growing, but it is not ready for cows yet,” Hodous said. “If they hurry putting the cows on pasture now, they are going to pay for it big time later in the year with reduced grass yield.”

In the Ellendale area, some of the beef herds are still wrapping up calving. The spring snow storms did cause some calving losses for producers, with one reporting a 25 percent death loss from the last heavy snow storm that hit the region.

Producers are reporting a good lambing season, but sheep are usually kept inside and not impacted so much by inclement weather.

In other areas, the abundance of snow has resulted in plenty of moisture to get the pastures greened up and growing, in fact some producers have already taken their cows to pasture.

“To show how fast the grass is growing, I have already had to mow my lawn twice this spring,” Kiser said.