Small grains and row crops across northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota generally are in good condition, except where heavy rains inundated fields and drowned them.
As much as 11 inches of rain fell in central Grand Forks County in storms during the night of July 1, 2020, and, in central Roseau County, Minn., a total of more than a foot of rain fell during June and July.
Some of the Grand Forks County fields where water ponded after the downpours didn’t have crops on them because they were too wet to plant this spring.
About a million acres of cropland in North Dakota, much of it in the eastern one-third of the state, didn’t get planted this spring because it was too wet, according to estimates from NDSU. Official estimates from the U.S. Agriculture Department will be released after Wednesday, July 15, which is the final date for farmers to report their prevented planted acreage for federal crop insurance purposes.
North Dakota has about 39 million acres of cropland, which account for 90% of the state’s land area.
Last year, North Dakota had the 10th highest number of prevented planting acres in the United States with 830,650, according to USDA.
Besides the prevented planting acres, some parts of Grand Forks County fields that did get planted this spring were drowned because water sat on them too long.
Meanwhile, some crops that were “mudded in” or planted when fields were wet, are showing uneven growth, said Kateyn Hain, Grand Forks County Extension agent.
Another challenge farmers are facing is rainy, windy conditions, which have made it difficult for them to spray their crops to control weeds, she said.
Overall, the county's crops have responded to the warm temperatures of the past few weeks by growing quickly and look good, Hain said.
“This heat has been good for the beans and the corn, and the sunflowers look great,” she said.
Farther north in Walsh County, N.D., crop conditions vary, depending on the amount of rain that’s fallen.
“We have areas that are really excellent, some that are average to below average, and then, areas that are struggling,”said Brad Brummond, Walsh County Extension agent. “You can’t make a blanket statement about the crops in Walsh County."
The area from Nash to Drayton, which is flat has “fairly significant” drowned out in some fields, according to Brummond, who said the drowned out areas are primarily within fields, and not entire fields.
PInto beans and soybean fields suffered the most from standing water, while wheat fields appear to be recovering, Brummond said.
Sugar beets and potatoes in that area of the county also were damaged by the heavy rains, he said.
Other areas where sugar beet fields were drenched by rains include west of Grand Forks and western Marshall and Kittson counties in Minnesota, said Joe Hastings, American Crystal Sugar Co. general agronomist.
“We’ve had a lot of rain. We’re definitely moderating that,” Hastings said.
However, warm temperatures have spurred sugar beet growth, and, overall, the outlook for the crop remains favorable, he said.
Sugar beet condition in North Dakota for the week ending Sunday, July 12, was rated 45% good and 52% excellent, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, North Dakota.
In Minnesota, sugar beets were rated 40% good and 55% excellent for the week ended July 12, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Minnesota reported.
The state’s corn, meanwhile, was rated 12% fair, 56% good and 29% excellent, the statistics service detailed.
The condition of the Marshall County corn field is good, said Bill Craig, Marshall and Pennington County Extension agricultural services director.
Meanwhile, wheat also looks good – where it didn’t drown out, he said.
Farmers are getting concerned because some of the wheat will be harvested in the next several weeks, and the ground is saturated, Craig said.
“There’s a lot of concern about a repeat of last year,” he said.
In 2019, some fields were too wet to harvest and were left in the field.
“They don’t want a repeat of that,” Craig said.