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Published June 29, 2009, 08:52 PM

Ag agent: No major damage from rains

Despite heavy rain across much of Walsh County, crop damage wasn’t as bad as he feared, said Brad Brummond, a Park River, N.D., agriculture extension agent. That’s partly because there wasn’t much for the 3 to 7 inches of rain to hurt; many fields weren’t planted anyway because of spring flooding.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

Despite heavy rain across much of Walsh County, crop damage wasn’t as bad as he feared, said Brad Brummond, a Park River, N.D., agriculture extension agent.

That’s partly because there wasn’t much for the 3 to 7 inches of rain to hurt; many fields weren’t planted anyway because of spring flooding.

“One thing that saves us was we had a significant amount of prevented plant acres,” Brummond said, referring to the program that pays farmers if crops can’t get seeded by certain deadlines.

He estimates 20 to 25 percent of the acres in the county will qualify for the program, meaning no crop will be harvested this year on those fields.

From 3 to 5 inches of rain fell across Polk County, according to published accounts, soaking many fields.

In Grand Forks County, the rain was needed in many cases. One Thompson, N.D., farmer said he got 3 inches and his crops could use it all.

Outside of the northern Red River Valley, the rains were less and more welcome.

The development of small grains, corn and beans remains behind average, but overall, the crops look pretty good across North Dakota and Minnesota, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly survey of ag extension agents.

The extreme rainfall affected mostly northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

“The rain came very, very hard,” Brummond said. “So, we got a lot of sheet erosion where a lot of top soil came off the hills. And we have a lot of flooding backing up from rivers and drains going on right now.”

In the Nash, N.D., area, northwest of Grafton and between the north and middle branches of the Park River, there were significant losses, he said, because of heavy rainfall a week earlier. “The damage is cumulative.”

Lots of hay land and pasture took heavy hits, too, and he expects some farmers to plant hay millet to ensure some forage will be available by the end of the summer.

Doug Moen said 6½ inches of rain fell at his place near Michigan, N.D., in north-central Nelson County, and some of his neighbors got even more. He remembers only two other such rain events in his lifetime in the region.

“We’ve got a mess here,” he said. “We’ve got roads that are under water and a lot of culverts are flowing high; it will take a while,” Moen said.

The crops didn’t seem to sustain widespread damage, though.

“It laid it down some, but I think it will come back up,” Moen said. “It might hurt the beans a little; there are some drowning out spots.”

Some potholes just seeded by farmers finally able to get into the low spots are goners now, filled with new floodwaters. Crops at this stage can take a day or two of being submerged in water, depending on how hot it gets and other factors.

Except for potholes and backed-up drainage areas, fields are now mostly free of floodwater and crops look green, Brummond said. “We won’t know the extent of crop loss until after the Fourth of July.”

Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 237; or send e-mail to slee@gfherald.com.

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