McKay family

The McKay family on vacation earlier this summer.

PAGE, N.D. – Brad McKay was just getting ready to plant some cover crop on his prevented plant acres before a rain shower moved over his farm on the early evening of Sunday, Aug. 30, dumping half an inch of rain in just a few minutes. Once again the planting of cover crops has been delayed.

“We were getting close. That was probably going to be the project this week, but this rain will slow us down again,” Brad said.

The Peterson Farms Field Day was held on Aug. 27 at Brad’s farm. The attendance was “lighter” than he would have liked, but considering farmers were busy with small grain harvest, while others had concerns of being in crowds due to COVID-19, it was understandable.

“People are just trying to be careful with all the COVID stuff – we didn’t want too many people at each location. Everyone is just a little apprehensive.” Brad said.

The crops in the Page area continue to look good, according to Brad. Both the corn and soybeans are maturing a little faster than normal due to the higher number of growing degree units this summer.

“The corn looks good, with a lot of the corn starting to dent,” he said. “For the most part, guys did shorten up maturity this year. Typically, I plant from 84-91-day varieties and this year I have 84-85-day corn, and a lot of my customers shortened up by a little bit.

“If the weather stays favorable, we will see soybean harvest going hard by the end of September, where typically it is during the first week of October. I think we are 10 days to two weeks ahead of the last few years,” he added.

Brad hasn’t seen a lot of white mold in the soybeans this year, although the conditions were favorable. He noted white mold usually results from the proper timing of a number of things like splashing rainfall, temperatures, and stage of plant growth, and for the most part the right timing was not present this growing season, which is good news for soybean growers.

“White mold is a tough one to predict,” he added.

He rates the soybean crop in his area as probably an average crop to a little above average, and he added that the beans branched out quite a bit, which means the area would really like to avoid an early snow storm like it experienced the last two years with October blizzards.

The corn crop looks like it could be a better than average crop this year.

“There is not a ton of corn around, but the stuff that is there will be really good, I think,” Brad noted. “I expect the corn will start coming off around the end of October.”

Even though Brad didn’t have any small grains this year, he said most of the wheat in his area has now been combined. He hasn’t heard many details about yield, but such things as protein levels, falling numbers and test weight have been generally positive.

“I’ve heard yields of 40-50 bushels per acre for wheat,” he said. “It seemed like the stuff that was planted early got hit by the 90-degree and high wind weather conditions, which prevented the crop from stooling very well and it was short. The wheat planted later escaped the warm weather, but has been hit a little harder by disease.”

The projects right now are centered on getting equipment ready for fall. This includes those that will be used for harvesting and the tillage equipment that will be employed after harvest.

Brad also hopes eventually the prevented plant acres will dry up enough to plant a cover crop.

“I am looking at putting in just rye for the cover crop, hoping it will start growing early enough in the spring to suck some of the moisture out of the ground,” he explained. “I am going to spray all of the prevented plant acres one more time with a burndown spray to eliminate any weed competition and I think there will be a few prevented plant acres that will not be seeded because there is still a lot of trash on the field surface.”