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Rain causes struggles

By Staff | Jun 7, 2013

After nearly a week straight of rain, David Kraft was half expecting Noah to show up on his farm north of Rugby.

“The animals are starting to line up two by two,” he joked. “I don’t know if that’s a good sign. It could be a warning. We’re lucky as far as we’ve got done what we can. We’re going to have ground we won’t be able to get to, but we still have been able to get a lot in the ground.”

From May 25 to June 5, Rugby had rainfall in 10 of the 12 days, measuring over 5 inches in total.

Kraft, like nearly every farmer in the area, didn’t have all of his crop in as the calendar turned into June.

“I think most guys are between half and 2/3 done,” he said. “The last 25 percent might be tough to get in the next week.”

Like Kraft, Riley Schaan said he’ll leave some of his fields in southern Pierce County unplanted.

“We’re probably about 80 percent done,” he said on June 4. “It depends on this rain the next two days. We’re going to end up leaving some for sure.”

Mike Heidlebaugh, who farms just south of Rugby, estimated he had 60 percent of his crop in midway through the week.

“We’ve got the wheat and canola in and I didn’t get all my corn in, but it was so wet I’ll probably have to switch crops on that,” he said. “Right now, I think we’ll probably get 90 percent of the ground seeded. We’ll probably put either wheat or canola where I was going to plant the corn.”

Heidlebaugh isn’t the only farmer who’s had to juggle crops between the extended winter and recent wet stretch.

June 10 is also a key date for crop insurance, which has led some farmers to change initial plans.

“It’s been a little bit of both,” Kraft said of the factors that went into his decision. “A little less corn and beans and a little more wheat and canola because of that shorter season and I’m still a little worried about the shorter season we have (for the crops). People have moved 10-20 percent of their acres around.”

Schaan, who farms a mile north of Balta, said most farmers seed crops that need a longer growing season as soon as they can.

“I think as far as what’s left to seed, most guys left their winter fields until the end,” he said. “For us, we’d need a good 4-5 days of dry weather to get a majority of it. Beans, if you get much after 10th or 12th you run a higher risk of them not making it.”

Kraft farms in northern Pierce County between Barton and Wolford.

He said farmers to the west and northwest of him are in tougher shape. Regardless of the location, farmers in the state are looking for some warm days and some wind to dry off still saturated soil.

“The ground that’s underwater is going to be underwater,” he said. “Best case, if everyone can get a 3-day run of sun and wind we’ll get in what we can and go from there. Worst case is we get more water and aren’t able to get anything. We’re better than most (counties).”

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