WISHEK, N.D. – Wet weather continued to be an issue for farmers across the state through September – delaying harvest and giving farmers headaches. The final week of September threw another wrench into the equation – not only did the region continue to get dumped on by rain, but temperatures have continued to drop.
“We got dumped on last night,” said Adam Bettenhausen on Sept. 30. “I think we got two inches of rain just overnight.”
Wheat harvest is complete for the Bettenhausens. Their final couple fields turned out pretty poor as they ended up having to force their seeding equipment through before the fields were ready this spring.
“It was one of those situations where we kind of had to just get it done,” Adam said. “Otherwise, the whole field would have had to be prevented plant.”
Adam had previously expressed his concerns about the quality of their wheat after all the excess moisture of late, and following harvest, those concerns have come to fruition.
“That was spot on,” he said. “Pretty much all the wheat that was exposed to that week of rain had terrible quality. There were some elevators putting feed wheat bids out, so we had to end up using a lot more of our storage for wheat than we had anticipated. We moved some stuff around, moved out some of the wetter wheat to get some air through it, and hauled some other stuff to town to maximize our space.”
As the Bettenhausens have been prepping their machinery for soybean harvest, the beans have been turning rather quickly. They had considered getting started on harvest before the most recent showers came through, but decided to wait.
“With the rain coming, we knew we’d have to wait anyways,” he said. “We ended up getting close to three inches over the weekend. You drive around and all the ditches are full of water as if a bunch of snow had just melted, so it’s pretty wet again. This weather is just not conducive for harvest.”
Adam says they did receive some frost on the night of Friday, Sept. 27, and it looks like the corn is pretty “dinged” from that.
“I’m not sure if it completely shut down the corn or not, but I know a lot of wasn’t ready for it,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what kind of test weights and yield we end up with there.”
The sunflowers are looking good from the road, but if you walk out into the field they’re just loaded with disease, Adam says.
“We’ve got Sclerotinia head rot on a couple fields really bad, so I’m not sure how much we’ll lose there,” he explained. “It’s frustrating because you put all this time and effort into growing a good crop, you get the moisture you need to grow a good crop, but there’s all these factors on the backend that are a headache – weather, disease, pest pressure – it’s just been a battle.”
This summer has been a challenging one, with problems unique to other years.
“There’s always problems, but not like this,” he said. “Normally, we don’t have enough moisture. Disease isn’t anything new, especially in sunflowers, but usually it’s something you can work around. I’ve never seen anything as bad as this year. It’s just been so cold and wet all year. We haven’t had the growing degree days for the corn, it was put in late, it’s been slow with no heat, and we’re still not getting any heat.
“It looks like there’s a decent chance for another freeze this week, so the corn is likely not going to finish as well as it needs to. Our soybeans had more potential, but we ran out of heat and day length, so they quit. It’s definitely a unique year and not a normal set of problems,” he added.
If there’s one silver lining to all the moisture this year, it’s the positive impact it’s had on pastures for cattle and grazing conditions.
“The cattle are doing well. We put some cattle out on some cover crop I seeded on a wheat field, so we’ll get some good grazing out of that,” Adam said. “The one good thing about this weather is the pastures have really produced. We haven’t had to worry about pasture grass and the cattle have been happy all year, so that’s one good thing.”