BUXTON, N.D. – Most Septembers, Spencer Endrud would be steering his combine through soybean fields, watching the machine eat up the burnished gold rows.
But this has not been a typical September. Late last week, instead of harvesting, the Buxton farmer was straightening a damaged culvert in an effort to drain water from his saturated pinto bean field.
“Normal circumstances, we’d be done harvesting with the edibles, and soybeans would have been ready to go,” Endrud said.
But about 12 inches of rain has fallen in northern Traill County since August, and Endrud’s fields and those of his neighbors are waterlogged. Their situation, while unfortunate, is not unique this harvest season. North and south of Traill County and everywhere in between, the wet fall weather has caused harvest headaches for farmers.
In Grand Forks, the 7.74 inches of rain that had fallen as of Friday, Sept. 27, was the most ever recorded by the National Weather Service during September. It also is the 10th highest amount the weather service recorded in Grand Forks during a single month. The monthly total could increase this weekend and, possibly move September 2019 into the top five wettest months in Grand Forks history, the weather service said.
In Traill County, Endrud still has 600 acres of pinto and black beans, 1,250 acres of soybeans and 750 acres of corn yet to harvest. But he says he’s better off than some of his Traill County neighbors who still have wheat in the field.
“I was pretty fortunate and I got all of my wheat off before the big rains came,” Endrud said. “After that, I haven’t done anything.”
Several storm systems have dropped heavy rains across Traill County during the past several weeks.
“You’ll find water everywhere you go in Traill County,” said Alyssa Scheve, Traill County, N.D., Extension agent. “It’s a serious problem we’re dealing with.”
A few miles from Endrud’s farm, Steve Thoreson was working Thursday on machinery that had been idle in his yard for several days. Thoreson’s rain gauge has measured more than 6 inches of rain since mid-September.
“It’s just been continually wet,” Thoreson said. “It’s going to be tough on some of the fields.”
One of those was Glenn Johnson’s wheat field. Johnson was trying to get his last few acres of wheat off on Friday and was having trouble navigating his combine through the water-soaked field.
“We’ve got a problem,” Johnson said when contacted by a Herald reporter. “We got the combine stuck.” Despite his plight, he found a silver lining in the gray clouds. He had less than 10 percent of his 780 acres left to combine.
“We’re down to 50 left,” Johnson said.
One of his neighbors has 500 acres remaining, and another has 600, he said.
Traill County farmers have been battling wet conditions since last October, when snow blanketed their fields.
“Last fall, people had to combine around snowdrifts,” Scheve said.
Endrud was one of those people. After three years of good harvest weather, the young farmer last year had to combine his soybeans in the snow.
“Last fall was a growing-up experience,” Endrud said.
But combining in the adverse harvest conditions isn’t new to only him.
“I don’t think there were too many people who had harvested soybeans in the snow,” Endrud said.
But with the know-how gained last fall, Endrud isn’t too worried about what this fall’s weather might bring.
“I think after last fall, we’re able to harvest in some pretty horrible conditions,” he said.
There’s also a chance the rainy cycle will end and field conditions will improve, Thoreson said.
“If I get a few weeks of dry weather it can turn around,” he said.
“Sometimes, it surprises you."