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Published September 21, 2009, 11:19 PM

Heat accelerates harvest progress

The near-record warm weather the past week meant a big catch up for harvesting farmers across the region, who took in 21 percent of the spring wheat crop in the seven days ended Saturday night. That means 77 percent of the crop the state’s most known for is now in the bin, compared to 95 percent by Sept. 20 in a typical year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress report.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

The near-record warm weather the past week meant a big catch up for harvesting farmers across the region, who took in 21 percent of the spring wheat crop in the seven days ended Saturday night. That means 77 percent of the crop the state’s most known for is now in the bin, compared to 95 percent by Sept. 20 in a typical year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress report.

Rain that fell Monday afternoon in east-central North Dakota and in parts of Minnesota will delay harvest a day or two again this week.

But two-thirds of the state’s canola crop was harvested in North Dakota by Sunday, compared to 86 percent in a typical year. In Minnesota, 46 percent of the canola has been combined, compared to the norm of 88 percent.

Ten percent of North Dakota’s dry edible beans, such as pintos and navies, were cut by Sunday, waiting in windrows for combines, according to USDA. It appeared that nearly 5 percent of the edible beans in Grand Forks County were harvested by Sunday, based on a tour of much of the county. Potatoes were 16 percent dug by Sunday, behind the norm of 41 percent; flax was 42 percent combined, compared with the five-year average of 75 percent; 9 percent of the sunflowers had brown bract leaves, compared with the normal 39 percent by this time.

N.D.'s crop

Soybeans are still two weeks or so from harvest in most cases, with 27 percent of North Dakota’s crop having dropped leaves, and 49 percent of Minnesota’s soybeans; compared with the typical two-thirds of the crop at that maturity point in typical years in both states.

Minnesota farmers have 37 percent of their spuds dug, compared with the norm of 51 percent by Sept. 20; 25 percent of the dry edible beans, compared with 39 percent in the five-year average; 86 percent of the spring wheat, compared with 94 percent typical.

Despite the still-late harvest, September has healed lots of the tardiness of this year’s crops.

In one main measure of the growing season’s sun and warmth for crops, the deficit of enough “growing degree days, or “GDDs”, for corn has been about cut in half in the past three weeks in the region.

On Aug. 30, for example, the Crookston area was 377 GDDs below normal for corn, with the deficit from normal equivalent to 25 percent of the total 1,538 GDDs received by that date.

But by Sunday, the GDDs deficit was only 238, which represents only 12 percent of the total of 1,914 GDDs that hit the fields around Crookston since May 4, according to the USDA’s Monday report.

Still, only 4 percent of Minnesota’s corn crop is mature, compared with 40 percent by Sept. 20 in a normal year. In North Dakota, none of the corn was rated mature by Sunday, compared with 36 percent by the same date in a normal year.

But 26 percent of the corn in North Dakota moved into the “dented” stage last week, putting the total in dent stage at 49 percent, compared with 85 percent dented in the normal, five-year average by this time.

In Minnesota, 76 percent of the corn is dented, 15 percent behind the five-year norm.

The National Weather Service does not expect a killing frost the next two weeks in the region, an event that normally happens by now. That in itself promises to take most of the beans to maturity, and much of the corn, according to experts. But harvest will remain a challenge as it’s two to three weeks behind normal.

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

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