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Harvest in full swing

By Staff | Aug 20, 2012

Harvest is in full swing in Pierce County. Mother Nature has been a force this season with a very hot, dry July and most of August. In the last week, the crops have received a drink of water or two. The moisture stress and the heat may have prevented a bumper crop for most crops in the north central area. However, the yields reported in the grain crops thus far are showing average to above average. Row crops are predicted to be at least average. Although it is too early to confidently predict above average crops, the signs are pointing that way for corn and soybeans. Canola is projected to be average or a little below in some areas of the county, according to Carter Medalen, agronomist, Rugby Farmers Union.

“More corn and soybeans were planted in Pierce County this year over last year as those were the crops with the strongest prices going into spring planting,” Medalen added.

“Soybeans and corn ground to a halt before the latest rains but the moisture seems to have perked up the soybeans,” said Gary Kraft, director, Rugby Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Most farmers are working night and day to get their grain crops in.

“Early reports of wheat harvest in the county are of good yields and good quality although not as many acres of wheat were planted in Pierce County,” said Aaron Krauter, state executive director, Farm Service Agency, on the website.

The 2012 hard red winter crop in North Dakota is a record with record high planted area and strong yields, according to the ND Wheat Commission.

Not a lot of Pierce County farmers plant hard red winter wheat in comparison to other crops, but there are some that planted in their lowland areas where it was too wet to plant last year, according to Medalen. Farmers in this area prefer to plant spring wheat more than winter wheat.

Compared to parts of the rest of the country, Pierce County is not doing too badly having had a little moisture. Some farmers in the county have no till ground where moisture was conserved. The no till seems to be doing better, according to Medalen. Adding to the good news is that there haven’t been a lot of aphids and it is getting past the time when aphids would be a major problem. The same with the corn borer.

“A lot of our corn has traits to protect it from the corn borer,” said Medalen.

Medalen said that the corn is just starting to dent and that is a very good sign. He wouldn’t be surprised if corn harvest started in early October this year.

When asked about rumors of grasshoppers, Medalen replied, “There are some ‘hot spots’ out there with grasshoppers, but they have not become a major problem for most crops in Pierce County.” Most farmers (about 60%) in the county spray the crops to prevent problems.

Crops aren’t the only issue facing area farmers and ranchers.

“Pastures have definitely suffered from the hot, dry weather,” said Gary Kraft, director, Rugby FSA office.

Pastures were getting pretty dry before the last rainfall. A few ranchers in the area expressed some concern about their pastures.

One rancher near Towner uses cell grazing where he divides 100 acres into four 25 acre cells like a wheel with four spokes and water in the middle. He moves his cattle to one cell at a time which helps conserve the pastureland.

The experts seem to agree that some of the crops could have average to above average yields if the weather cooperates but as one put it, “It ain’t in the bin, yet.”

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