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Harvest season winding down for Millers in northwestern ND

Sawfly in durum

Floyd Miller took this photo on Sept. 13 of a wheat stem sawfly damage in one of his durum fields.

WILLISTON, N.D. – Harvesting is winding down for the Millers in the northwestern region of the state, where slightly cooler weather with temperatures in the mid- to high 70s and lows in the 40s swept through the area after a long stretch of hot and dry conditions.

“We haven’t had any rain to speak of, but it was cool this morning, so cool that I had to put a shirt on to go work outside,” said Floyd Miller, with a laugh.

Floyd planned to cut durum on Sept. 9 in the afternoon. While he ran into sawfly damage in his durum up north, he says most of the durum has looked “great” this year.

“My cousin, who seeded a newer solid stem variety of durum, also had sawfly damage,” he said. “I might swath it and pick it up, but I don’t want to pick up any rocks. Last year, I used a swather and gained an extra 4 bushels per acre on some durum that had sawfly damage.”

Floyd plans to check the durum first and see if he can straight cut it before he goes to the extra work of swathing.

Without any recent precipitation, combining has been moving along steadily at the Miller farm. In addition, because the temperatures have been so warm, the grain has been ripening during the night and maturing quickly.

There is still some canola and durum left in the Miller’s farm fields.

“Casey is coming out to combine his quarter section of canola, and I have 120 acres of durum left over by the new airport and one quarter section of durum to the north, but there was still some green in it. We are going to wait over the weekend so it can ripen,” he said. “Rodney is finished with harvesting his durum fields, except for some green spots.”

Floyd was out spraying one of his durum fields that he had finished harvesting.

“There’s some Russian thistle showing up, so I want to get that sprayed today,” he said on Sept. 9.

The canola was all Roundup Ready, so those fields are clean of weeds and won’t need spraying.

Farming is “risky business,” Floyd knows, but he never wanted to do anything else.

“I love farming. It is in my heart,” he said. Floyd’s friends are always saying, “You can take Floyd out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of Floyd.”

As an example, he says, “Whenever I go driving down the highway, I am counting John Deere tractors in the field, not cars.”

Meanwhile, Floyd’s two nephews, Michael Miller, who is his brother Mark’s son, and Luke Miller, who is his brother Gerald’s son, called and wanted to come up and help with harvest.

“We told them we may not be harvesting, but they came up anyway and we put them to work. The grain matured so fast and we ended up harvesting every day during the holiday weekend,” Floyd said.

Floyd and Carol, his older sister, were excited to take part in their high school class reunions in Williston in mid-September.

“I had a high school class reunion two years ago, but we couldn’t celebrate because of COVID,” Carol said. “We couldn’t have it last year because of COVID. So finally, my class reunion will be Sept. 16-17 in Williston. We are naming it, ‘The class of 1970 is turning 70.’ We are going to have a social gathering in a backyard on Friday and a banquet on Saturday.”

Floyd is planning on playing a joke on his classmates. He was in FFA in high school and still has his blue FFA jacket.

“I bought a new jacket that fits me now and I am going to take off my FFA name with vice president and the year I was VP on the old jacket and put it on my new jacket and wear it to the banquet. I will let them all know that my jacket still fits,” he laughed.

In addition, Floyd has a 50-acre field that is two miles away from city limits. He plans to take those coming for the reunion who are not farmers on rides in the combine.

“They can see what farming is all about,” Floyd said. “I’ll make sure the air conditioning doesn’t work, too, so it can really be like the old days.”

The reunion will also go to a friend’s place by the river on Sunday and there will also be bowling and golf over the weekend. Some people want to tour the new high school in Williston and the new recreation center, called the ARC.

“I am going to give a tour to people who want to see how big the city has grown with the oilfield. Williston has really doubled in size – the land anyway,” he added. “The oilfield is still booming up here.”

With harvest finishing up, Floyd plans to head out to Lake Sakakawea and go fishing.

“I don’t care if it is cool this weekend. I haven’t had time this summer to fish yet, so I am going out to the lake and camp and fish. Debbie has been out at the cabin fishing every day,” Floyd said. “When I bought my fishing pole, the salesman said it was guaranteed to catch a fish. He just didn’t say what day I would catch one.”

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