small grain harvest

The small grain harvest has started in most areas of North Dakota. Photo by Dale Hildebrant

The recent damp weather has prevented wheat harvest from getting underway, according to Penny Nester, Extension agent in Kidder County. She reported pretty consistent rainfall throughout the summer, with some areas and times with too much rain.

“Most of our hard red spring wheat is not dry enough yet to start harvesting,” Nester said. “(Farmers) have been able to harvest some rye and winter wheat, and we are seeing higher than average yields. There aren’t many reports of ergot this year, compared to last year.”

She reports the wheat fields in the county have variability in maturity or they have late-season tillering, in some cases. As a result, many growers have used a desiccant on the crop or are having to windrow the crop and let it dry in the swath. Growers are expecting a pretty good crop once harvest starts.

“We are definitely 2-3 weeks behind with the row crops,” she said. “The crops look beautiful for this time of the year, but it is all going to depend if we get an early frost or a late frost. We are hoping for a late frost so everything can mature – if we get an early frost we will have some definite issues, especially with the corn crop.”

Looking at some of the other crops, canola harvest is just getting underway in the region around Steele, N.D., and the early yield reports indicate the crop is doing well.

“Some growers just finished up harvesting peas and it was an average pea crop,” she said. “With all of the rain, it slowed things down and decreased the quality of the crop a little bit. The sunflowers are now blooming and looking good.”

The potato crop in the county is looking good and there is one big field of onions being raised. The ultimate success of that crop is likely to depend on when the first frost hits.

Hay and grazing conditions

Looking at the hay situation, it has been a “reverse year” with the areas that normally have a good alfalfa crop being hampered with more than ample moisture. Those areas with the sandy soils are actually reporting better alfalfa yields.

“The areas with the poorer soils are actually planning on getting three cuttings of alfalfa on that ground because of the higher rainfall this summer,” Nester explained.

The frequent rainfall has also led to no complaints about running out of grass or water in the pasture areas this summer and there has been no reports of water quality issues in stock ponds or dugouts.

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