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Pierce County is 85 percent planted

By Staff | Jun 17, 2011

Crops were between 80-85% planted in Pierce County as of last week, according to Gary Kraft, director, Farm Service Agency. Area farmers agree with him. At least those who could get their crops in.

The percentage planted varies from right around Rugby where there seems to be an oasis, to over Wolford and Barton and even to Selz where there is more than enough water.

Alvin Slaubaugh, rural Wolford, whose land is considered part of the Devils Lake Basin has been dealing with more water than he needs for the last fifteen years. The all-grain farmer said he feels fortunate that right now he is 85-90% planted. He said the people in Devils Lake are the ones to be concerned about. Although along with Devils Lake, his land keeps getting more wet.

“It keeps spreading. This year I lost 40 more acres of land to water,” said Slaubaugh. “Water is right next to my buildings.”

Slaubaugh knows that there are many people worse off than he is and he is grateful for what he does have.

“I am really thankful for what I got planted,” he said.

Joey Fritel, a Barton farmer, tends to look at the whole picture.

“Overall we’re pretty fortunate, we have these rolling hills out here where it drains off,” said Fritel. “Get out of these hills into the flat lands, it’s a different story.”

Fritel raises, wheat, corn, and sunflowers. He had about 250 acres that he couldn’t get to.

Fritel cites several factors that have figured into this planting season. He said it started last fall when farmers couldn’t even get in the field to break up the soil. Then there was the long snowy winter and delayed spring planting.

Those who live in the Devils Lake Basin don’t see any letup of the water soon.

Although rain has some value for newly planted crops, the farmers in Pierce County are watching the sky and hoping for 80 degree temperatures for several days in a row. With the forecast predicting more rain for the weekend, it doesn’t look like it will happen.

One family who farms southwest of Rugby has four quarters of land under water and some of their neighbors aren’t doing any better. These are cattle ranchers and they need plenty of dry pasture land and lots of hay. That may not happen this year.

It’s possible that come August, there won’t be enough hay, according to Joe Bohl, who was thinking of others who raise cattle, like his operation. He raises crops along with his cattle business. As a county commissioner, Bohl and the rest of the commissioners drive around the county checking the areas they represent.

On the other side of the county near Selz, the Young Brothers have been farming since the ’60s and ’70s and they have never seen anything like this planting season.

“In 2001 about a third of the crop didn’t get planted,” said Don Young.

This season 70% of their crop has not been planted, he said. That 70% is in the Prevent Plant Program so they will be able to recoup some of the loss through that program.

It all started with very heavy rains last fall, according to Young. “We had seven inches in September last year around here,” said Young. “We couldn’t work the land last fall. We couldn’t even finish harvest.”

Then the heavy snowfall came all winter. The area he farms is a lowland area. There’s nowhere for the water to go.

The other 30% of his crop has been planted with wheat. Because of the late planting season when it got past the deadline for planting, they just gave up, according to Young.

This planting season has been a challenging one and one that farmers in Pierce County and neighboring counties will remember for years to come. The crops are planted and in the hands of Mother Nature. Time will tell the final result.

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