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Plenty of moisture

By Staff | Mar 20, 2009

What a difference a year makes, says Pierce County farmer Kipp Johnson.

“Last year it was so dry, and we got into the fields so early,” he said. “This year we finally got some moisture to work with right away. When you’ve got moisture, you’ve got a chance. I would take it wet over dry any year.”

Rains last fall and above-average snowfall this winter have farmers hopeful for a good start to the growing season, with adequate moisture levels.

Of course, getting into the fields may be a challenge for some, especially if the region gets more moisture over the next few weeks.

Typically, farmers prepare fields and apply fertilizer in mid-April, with planting of small grains to follow later in the month.

It may be early May before any small grains get planted, if temperatures remain low.

“It really depends on how warm it gets to allow for melting,” Johnson said.

However, conditions may not be as bad as initially predicted.

Jim Teigen said there isn’t as much moisture in the snow as first thought, and the dry conditions in recent years have meant many of the prairie potholes have dried up, giving plenty of room to store moisture.

Of course, that could change with significant rain and cooler temps this spring preventing fields from drying out.

The southern and western regions of the county were hardest hit with snow. The northern regions didn’t receive as much snow, and thus, planting could be still on track.

A snowstorm in early November halted what was left of the sunflower and corn harvest. Some farmers managed to get back into the fields, but some couldn’t, and then more snow in December and early January, followed by a cold spell, meant those crops would have to sit until spring.

Deer likely got into some of those fields over the winter months, but some crop still may be salvageable, according to Karlyle Erickson, Pierce County Extension agent.

“If we can get some snow to go, and then get some cold weather (to harden the ground), it may allow farmers to get into those fields,” he said.

Some area ranchers have begun calving, and others will be starting soon, Erickson said. However, the wet, sloppy conditions are not ideal.

Pierce County farmers received much-needed moisture this fall in the form of rain and wet snow.

Unfortunately, the snow kept coming and coming throughout the winter months, and for some producers, that will likely mean a later start to the planting season.

Depending on how wet and soft field conditions are, planting may be pushed back.

National Ag Day

Lunch was on area farmers and ranchers on March 18 -National Ag Day.

Pierce County joined 50 others across the state in a “Sharing the Harvest” meal at the Eagles Club, sponsored in part by the Pierce County Farmers Union.

Beef stew, bread and beverages were provided for a small fee with the proceeds, about $174, donated to the local Pierce County Food Pantry. Those who brought up to five non-perishable food items ate for free, and about 80 pounds were colleced and also donated to the pantry.

“Farmers had a pretty good year in terms of crops and prices, and this was a way to share some of that good fortune with the community,” said Jim Teigen, farmer and local Pierce County Farmers Union member.

Although turnout for the event was a little disappointing, organizers hope a future event will attract more people.

In addition to the county farmers union organizations, the North Dakota Farmers Union sponsored the event.

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