New Rockford and Devils Lake are only 35 miles apart, yet the recent crop report from Eddy (New Rockford) and Ramsey (Devils Lake) Counties show a huge difference in crop conditions.
Eddy County ag agent Tim Becker reports there has been abundant moisture during the summer months, which has resulted in good small grain yields, while soil moisture supplies in Ramsey County are critically short, according to Extension agent Bill Hodous of Ramsey County.
“We have had between 12-15 inches of rain in June, July and August, and it has been hard to put a few good days of harvesting together,” Becker said. “Some have just about wrapped up their wheat harvest, while others are still plugging away. However, some of the wheat is pretty bleached out after it has been rained on two or three times. Last night (Labor Day), we picked up another 0.80 to 0.90 inch of rain.”
Becker has heard of wheat yields in Eddy County from 40-90 bushels per acre, with most of the fields coming in the 50-60 bushel range. Quality of the crop appears to be good, with little to no ergot reported and a little scab in a few fields in the eastern part of the county.
Becker reports the area’s soybean crop looks good and those growing dry edible beans are anxious for harvest to start, since it appears there could be a good potential crop out there waiting to be harvested.
A Labor Day rain storm also brought much needed moisture to Ramsey County, with some areas getting around 0.60 inches, according to Hodous.
“For some, especially in the northern end of the county, that was the biggest rainfall they have experienced since the end of May. The rain was very welcomed,” he said.
The small grain harvest has been progressing nicely in Ramsey County, but in many cases, the yields have been light due to the lack of soil moisture.
“Barley yields have been in that 75-90 bushels per acre range,” Hodous said. “A range of 50-65 bushels per acre will cover most of the wheat crop. Some of the edible bean fields are close to harvest and I think that will be an average crop. The canola that has been harvest so far has had disappointing yields.”
The soybean crop is deceiving, he noted. From the road the crop looks good, but when you walk out into the fields you notice the top one quarter to a third of the plant has aborted pods, and on the lower areas of the plant, instead of seeing clusters of three or four pods, there might be just a one or two pods and only a bean or two in each pod.
Both Becker and Hodous share a common concern – slow to mature corn.
“We have a long ways to go,” Becker said. “Some fields are denting and some fields haven’t gotten to dent yet. We need a late frost and we need some heat. A lot of guys are starting to get nervous about this corn crop making it. I have a feeling we might see a lot of corn standing over winter.”
Hodous figures the corn crop in his county still needs about 250 growing degree units yet, and the last couple days they have only received five and nine units each day.
“If you do the math on that, we need about a month yet to get those units and frost alone might get the crop before then,” he explained. “If it does get to the maturity range, it is going to take a while to dry the crop down and we will have less than average yield.”
Western North Dakota
In the west central region, producers are still behind in harvesting their small grain crops.
“Most of our producers are just getting started harvesting due to recent rainfall,” said Devan Leo, NDSU Extension agent in McKenzie County. “In addition, our crops were so late. Some producers planted into dust and waited for rain. Others toward the eastern side, near Fairview, had flooding in the spring, so they planted very late.”
Those near Fairview in the Yellowstone Valley have some beet stands that are thin and yellowing due to the heavy moisture from flooding and rain.
“If guys watched the moisture levels in their fields and didn’t irrigate unless they needed to, their beet stands are going to be okay,” she said.
Most of the crops pulled out of their late start, with some putting in the crop in June, so they are just not mature yet. Leo did find some mold, however, in the wheat due to heavy moisture in August and moist soils.
“It was dry for a while in July; then we had a lot of rain in August, with a hailstorm,” she said.
When the hailstorm came through, one field lodged due to a heavy seed rate.
“The producer’s field lodged after it hailed, but he was just looking to bale it for hay, so it worked out,” Leo said.
Another producer told her while cutting his pea crop, he found what he thought looked like pea weevils.
“He wasn’t sure and he wasn’t able to get a sample, so we don’t know. We seem to have had more than the usual insects this year,” Leo said.
Leo pointed out even the trees around the area have been impacted by too-moist conditions with increased insects and disease.
Many producers in her area are starting to try and get a second cutting. With recent rainfall, they may need to wait to get back in the fields.
Ryan Buetow, area Extension agronomist at Dickinson Research Extension Center, said many producers are behind on harvesting.
“With cool and wet conditions, it has been slow going this year,” Buetow said. “As of Aug. 27, there were reports of moisture in the fields at 16-20 percent.”
However, for those that didn’t receive hail, the crop is “looking amazing this year.”
“There are definitely pockets of scab and other disease, as well as wheat stem sawfly damage. If you noticed sawfly damage last year, and more damage this year, it would probably be a great time to rotate into a broadleaf crop,” he said.
With some fields in the southwestern region reporting soil acidity, Buetow said it would be a great time to look into liming soil.
In the northwestern region of the state in Divide County, Michelle Pulvermacher, who farms with her husband in the county and works at the Extension office, said farmers have been slow to combine due to moisture.
“Depending on where your farm is located, we had from a half inch to 5 inches of rain over Labor Day weekend,” Pulvermacher said.
Yields are coming in all over the board due to the unusual weather this growing season. There was a dry spell in July, followed by moisture in August. In some cases, the moisture came late for the wheat crop.
Producers have mostly been able to start cutting their wheat, but some have canola and flax to cut as well.
Trains have been slow to arrive in the northwest and guys have had to pile wheat on the ground.
“We have to be able to move our crop,” she added.
If they have bin room, the crops are going in the bin.
According to NDAWN, for the month of August, Berthold recorded 5.46 inches of rain; Watford City, 2.32 inches of rain; Williston, 2.22 inches of rain; Hazen, 5.03 inches; Hettinger, 3.02 inches; Bowman, 1.31 inches; Bowbells, 2.44 inches of rain; Mott, 1.95 inches of rain; Minot, 2.84 inches; Beach, on the North Dakota/Montana border, 1.65 inches and Dickinson, 3.10 inches.
Back in Eddy County, the abundant rainfall has translated into green pastures this late in the summer, as well as some producers getting a third cutting of alfalfa, according to Becker. “A lot of hay went up this year with some rain on it.”
The lack of rainfall in Ramsey County is impacting producers in two areas – grazing conditions for the cattle and getting an adequate supply of hay for the coming winter months.
“Our hay crop is probably a third less than what it normally is and pastures are very short,” Hodous said. “Some producers are starting to haul cattle home so they can start feeding them and some will be selling off a few head so the supplies of hay they now have will hopefully get them through the winter.”
One thing that might help could be some of the corn be made into silage instead of taking the risk of a small corn grain crop with high drying costs.