SIDNEY, Mont. – Planting season has finally arrived for many producers in eastern Montana. It was late this year due to cold temperatures.
But over the past week or two, the sun has come out during the day, and the temperatures have warmed up into the 60s - with one day a toasty 80 degrees.
The nice weather opened up a stretch of days at the end of April for producers to get into their fields and plant their crops.
“We’ve been planting our wheat since Monday (April 22),” said Sarah Rachor, who farms with her dad, Mike Degn, on the Montana/North Dakota border. “Cold weather is coming this weekend with rain, and while we do need the moisture, it has been great to be able to have a week or so to be able to seed our wheat.”
Mike is operating the John Deere tractor pulling a drill, planting Ingmar variety Hard Red Spring Wheat (HRSW).
“Ingmar has worked well for our farm,” she said.
Sarah went first in the field, putting down urea ahead of planting.
“There has been really strong winds that have been taking the moisture out of the soil, so I went ahead of the planter, gently working the fertilizer into the soil with a Triple K, which is a cultivator with small teeth which turns over just a bit of soil,” she said.
With the wind quickly drying out the topsoil, Mike was right behind her with the drill, so he could place the seed into moister soil.
In addition to planting, Sarah has also been busy working on a former hay field. She plans to renovate the hay field into a wheat field, as they don’t own cows - so don’t need the hay.
The family still has their sugarbeets and soybeans left to plant.
But Sarah is waiting for the current cold weather to pass.
Beginning Friday, April 26, temperatures were in the 40s-high 50s, but dropped down into the 20s-30s at night. That opened up the possibility for frost. They also received some rain on the weekend.
“We’ll wait until the weather is better next week before we plant our sugarbeets. Beets are susceptible to frost and we don’t want to take that chance,” Sarah said. The wheat plants can handle frost better than beets and some other crops.
The local Sidney Sugars indicated last week that they had reached the minimum of 20,000 acres of beets contracted, so many area farmers have been busy getting sugarbeets into the ground.
“That means we know we can plant sugarbeets this year,” she said.
In the midst of planting row and grain crops, Sarah is also prepping for ‘training her hops’ that will eventually go to the Butte Brewery to make their annual pale ale, ‘Off Your Rachor.’
Hops are not easy to grow – the plants are perennials that grow on tall poles and take a lot of labor to plant and harvest.
Sarah and her husband, Matt, were recently in Sidney for the Bakken Brew Fest. They were able to share some of the beer made from their hops with the locals in Sidney.
“It was a really good batch of beer,” she said.
The family enjoys all the time together for planting, but everyone is looking forward to summer.
Sarah’s daughter Megan enjoys Art Camp at the Mondak Heritage Center as well as other area day camps.
“Most of all, my almost-9-year-old daughter is looking forward to irrigating season, so she can play in the mud,” said Sarah, with a laugh.