Weather finally starts to cooperate for fieldwork
More windy and warm days like Tuesday and farm fields will be crawling with tractors and seeding equipment. But most fields were not full Tuesday, it appeared, across Grand Forks County as soils remain saturated. There's still a lot to do in what...
More windy and warm days like Tuesday and farm fields will be crawling with tractors and seeding equipment.
But most fields were not full Tuesday, it appeared, across Grand Forks County as soils remain saturated.
There's still a lot to do in what has been the latest spring planting season in North Dakota and Minnesota in decades as long-term wet conditions contributed to a large and long spring flood season. But this week looks to kick-start crop growing more than a little.
Rainy, cool weather persisted last week, keeping planting progress minimal.
By Sunday, only 15 percent of North Dakota's spring wheat crop was seeded, well behind the normal pace of two-thirds completed by May 15.
Only 15 percent of North Dakota's corn crop was planted by Sunday, compared with 57 percent by May 15 in the five-year average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly crop progress survey.
Minnesota farmers did some catching up last week, putting in 20 percent of the spring wheat crop, bringing the total seeded to 39 percent, still behind the five-year average of 76 percent. Last year by May 15, 99 percent of Minnesota's spring wheat was planted.
Most of Minnesota's corn crop is in the ground: 59 percent of it by Sunday, compared with the five-year average of 88 percent.
The North Dakota Corn Growers Association advises its members to stick to initial planting plans for corn until later in May, because corn, even with a late start so far, will do better than wheat or soybeans, moneywise. There still could be a shift of some corn acres to soybeans, which typically are planted later and are a little tougher to weather's variations.
Still the key concern in the Red River Valley is the sugar beet crop, because it needs timely planting more, perhaps, than other crops.
By May 15, 80 percent of the crop is seeded in both states in a typical year.But only 27 percent is in the ground in North Dakota and 31 percent in Minnesota, according to USDA.
American Crystal, with the most northern beet fields in the two states, is even further behind.
"We are at about 24 percent (planted) as of this morning," Jeff Schweitzer, American Crystal's spokesman, said Tuesday. "Our shareholders have a lot of planting ahead of them. Hopefully, in the next several days they will be able to make some significant progress."
The Crookston factory district has 40 percent of its crop planted, but the North Dakota districts based in Drayton and Hillsboro are trailing well behind, Schweitzer said.
The company is so far holding to last week's decision to allow growers to plant about 25,000 more acres than initially announced, so the total planted acreage would be about 450,000 this year, he said. And would mean the beet growers had 108,000 acres planted by Tuesday.
Last year, the season went so well, from an early planting to warm growing conditions, that American Crystal started harvest earlier than it has in decades and ended up with a record-yielding crop.
Already, it's difficult to expect such a big crop this year, but Schweitzer says there still is room for optimism.
"Mother Nature can shine on crop progress and has the potential to depress yield results as well," he said.
Today and Thursday promise to be warm and mostly sunny across the region, before the weekend threatens rain and cooler temperatures. So, farmers are planning to get as much done as possible as soon as possible.
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