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Published June 07, 2010, 04:00 PM

Catching up: Region shifts into late crops, heads into summer spraying

Depending on where the rain has fallen, farmers in the region have been making headway on the 2010 crop planting. Most are coming to the end of much of the corn and soybean planting.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

Depending on where the rain has fallen, farmers in the region have been making headway on the 2010 crop planting. Most are coming to the end of much of the corn and soybean planting.

This Agweek Crop Stop runs from Linton, N.D., down into South Dakota and then east toward Miller, S.D. It is followed by the June 1 crop progress report from the four-state area, as provided by the National Agricultural Statistics Service in the four states.

- Linton, N.D.: Joe Kiefer, manager of Farmers Elevator Inc. in Linton, N.D., says farmers in his area are feeling a bit behind, which wasn’t what anyone expected after an early start in April.

“I thought we’d get a break between the other crop (planting) and the sunflowers,” Kiefer says. “We didn’t get that.”

Kiefer says 75 percent of the wheat was done by May 17 and was largely finished by about May 26.

Corn had just gotten started May 17 and was finished for most of his customers June 1. A lot of corn from the 2009 crop still was left to be harvested, including several large acreages west of town. Most of the producers with unharvested corn seeded their corn first, combined corn and are setting up to plant sunflowers in the week of June 1 to June 8.

Linton Elevator got in one load of corn May 17 that had a test weight of 48 pounds — “not the best,” Kiefer acknowledges. He says about 85 percent had been harvested as of June 1.

“It’s been a touch moldy, but not too bad,” he says.

He doesn’t think this year’s results had much of a dampening effect on planting corn intentions in 2010.

- Herreid, S.D.: Dennis Mitzel farms south of Herreid, S.D., with his father, Archie, and brother, Don, in an operation called Mitzel and Sons. They farm, truck and sell front-end payloaders nationwide, mostly to farmers.

“We sent two to Bolivia here, a month ago,” Dennis Mitzel says.

The Mitzels are raising wheat and corn this year, as well as alfalfa. They often raise oats, but didn’t this year.

The Mitzels have 500 acres of winter wheat and another 600 acres of spring wheat for which seeding ended on May 16.

“The winter wheat looks really good,” Mitzel says. “Spring wheat looks good.”

Thumbs up on that.

The Mitzels had planted their first 20 acres corn on May 17 in what really was the first opportunity after a long stretch of rain. They stopped corn planting May 28 and may switch 100 acres from corn to beans.

“Hopefully. Don’t know whether that’ll happen either,” he says.

The corn planting was behind schedule by a good week or two weeks, Mitzel says, adding, “It’s about the same as last year.”

Modern equipment helps in a catch-up game, he says.

“If a guy can move, you can really get something done with a 16-row planter,” he says.

- Akaska, S.D.: Royce Ritter farms with his son, Cody, southwest of Akaska, S.D., and near Gettysburg, S.D. They have 200 head in a cow-calf operation, and the cattle market is looking good.

On the crop side, the Ritters raise spring wheat, which was planted right on time in mid-April this year. It’s all up and looking good as of June 1, Ritter says. It was about 8 inches tall and in the tillering stage.

Corn planting started May 18, but should have been done at that point, he says.

“We’re still planting a little corn yet, but we’re pretty good on that. We’re a little drier than others. We’re going to quit planting corn today and start planting soybeans,” he says.

The Ritters were starting to plant soybeans on June 1.

When he talked with Agweek, Ritter was using glyphosate to burn down a cover crop cocktail planted last fall in preparation for corn. Among the mix in the “cocktail” included lentils, turnips, canola and radishes. The canola didn’t all winter kill as expected, probably because of snow cover.

“Last year was the second year we’d tried a cover crop,” he says. “Because of the timing, I haven’t seen the full benefit it. The spring wheat harvest was later than normal, so it was planted a little later than normal.”

Generally, the corn is behind schedule, while wheat’s right on schedule.

Right now, he’s feeling at a 7 or 8 on a 10-point scale, with 10 being the best.

“I have 600 acres of corn in and it’s all coming up. With the amount of moisture we have, I’m still feeling pretty positive,” he says.

- Agar, S.D.: “Mayor Bob” Joachim has been mayor of Agar, S.D., for 24 years, but also works on one of the community’s larger farms. He had farmed independently with his brother, Jerry, around the Agar area earlier, but quit that in 2000 and went to work for Wittler Farms, more than 45,000 acres.

The Wittler operation is run by Matt and Jess Wittler of Agar and produces corn, wheat, sunflowers and soybeans.

Joachim says last year’s corn harvest was late, but the farm didn’t leave any in the field. They took the corn wet and hauled much of it to an ethanol plant at Aberdeen, S.D. They dried some of the corn in the operation’s extensive bin network. Many farms in the area have added large bin complexes because of the increase in higher-volume row crops.

“There’s a lot of no-till, lot of fertilizer,” he says.

Rains in late May had set the schedule back, but the farm is “still on top of it,” Joachim says. The farm’s corn was planted by May 28 and the soybeans had been finished with planting a day or two before. The Wittlers farm three large planters. The largest is a 90-foot planter with 30-inch rows.

“We figure we’re in real good shape,” Joachim says.

The early-planted corn can be “rowed,” or seen emerging.

Joachim says he isn’t sure how long he’ll want to keep on as mayor. But he says he hopes to stay on at least through the town’s centennial celebration that runs June 11 to 13. Like a good mayor, he has issued an open invitation, saying there is a whole list of events planned, including the rodeo Friday night and Saturday’s big parade, as well as a tractor pull.

“Oh, goodness I can’t remember all of it,” he says.

- Harrold, S.D.: Grain storage and handling is going gangbusters in central South Dakota, acknowledges Randy Brown, one of the owners of Harrold Grain L.L.C.

The elevator is at 2.2 million bushels and is adding five steel bins to take the facility to about 4 million bushels in capacity. The company is investing about $12.5 million in the facility, which will be ready for action Sept. 1.

Among other things, they’ve adding a “circle track,” which actually is an oval that can load 140 cars in a row, when added to its existing track.

“Farmers have keyed in and are just producing a lot more bushels per acre,” Brown says. “A lot of CRP and grass has been broken in the past five years. They say the cows are leaving and the plows are coming back.”

Brown says farmers are raising 120- to 150-bushel dryland corn, so elevators are gearing up.

The new facility at Harrold Grain will include a 10,000-bushels-per-hour dryer, as well as two 25,000-bushel receiving pits.

“We’ll be able to receive 80,000 bushels an hour and ship out at 100,000 bushels an hour and will be able to load out 140 cars,” Brown says.

He says it’s the only facility in the state he knows of that will be able to handle shuttles of more than 120 cars at a time.

- Miller, S.D.: Colton VanDerWerff has worked more than five years as farm employee for Darryl Chapin of Miller

The farm raises winter wheat, which was looking good in mid-May, with a likely harvest in late July — assuming weather cooperates.

The farm crew was busy June 1 putting fat tires on some of the spray equipment to get through the fields.

“It’s been rutting everything up and getting stuck all the time,” VanDerWerff says. Some fields are a “little green” and overdue for spraying.

Corn is a different story. Planting has been difficult this year, with only 300 of the 1,800 acres planted as of May 18.

“We’ll get ’er in if it don’t rain,” VanDerWerff says, but as of June 1, there still were 600 acres left to plant because of pesky, sporadic rains. “We’re going to plant one more quarter, see how it looks from there.”

Some of the unplanted corn acres likely will go to soybeans, VanDerWerff thinks.


Here is a state-by-state summary of the National Agricultural Statistics Service weekly crop, livestock and weather reports, issued for the week preceding June 1 in the region. The report was released June 2 because of the Memorial Day holiday.

North Dakota

Farmers in the northern two-thirds of the state were most hampered by heavy precipitation during the week. Post-emergence spraying was 18 percent complete for broadleafs and 21 percent for wild oats, in the small grains. St. Thomas, N.D., picked up 3.5 inches of rain during the week ending May 30, and Dazey, N.D., had 3.7.

Topsoil moisture was 77 percent adequate and 22 percent surplus.

Five-year average for this date is 91 percent adequate or surplus. Only small spots southeast of Minot, N.D., and southeast of Bowman, N.D., reported being short of topsoil moisture.

Spring wheat and durum were now 94 percent and 80 percent seeded, with barley seeding near complete. Durum is 80 percent planted, compared with 89 percent average.

Canola is 93 percent planted, compared with the 90 percent average, with 72 percent emerged.

Dry edible beans are 67 percent planted, which is ahead of the 58 percent average, and 13 percent emerged, which is about average.

Potatoes are 98 percent planted, and 39 percent emerged, both ahead of average.

Corn is 94 percent planted, just ahead of the 93 percent average for this date. Some 70 percent is emerged, just ahead of the 65 percent average for the date. Best progress was in the east-central district, at 99 percent; and southeast, at 94 percent; while south-central counties still are at 81 percent.

Soybeans are 69 percent planted, lagging the 76 percent average for this date, with 24 percent emerged, compared with the 31 percent average. Available planting reports ranged from 50 percent in the northwest to 76 percent in the east-central counties.

Crops percentages ranked in the “good” to “excellent” categories included: barley, 90 percent; durum, 83; spring wheat, 87; oats, 86; canola, 82; corn, 87; dry edible peas, 84; sugar beets, 83; and pasture and range, 78.


As of May 30, 90 percent or more of Minnesota small grains and row crops were rated in good to excellent conditions. Haying and herbicide spray season was well under way, with temperatures 9 degrees above normal for the week, with May 30 temperatures hitting the 90s.

Corn was 94 percent emerged compared with an 81 percent average, with an average height of 4 inches compared with a normal of 2 inches for the date.

Soybean planting was 95 percent complete, compared with 84 percent average, with a 2-inch height, compared with an average of zero.

Spring wheat is 25 percent jointing, compared with a 6 percent average.

Oats are 52 percent jointing, compared with a 12 percent average, with 3 percent already heading.

Potatoes were 97 percent planted, up from 94 percent average. Dry beans were 72 percent planted, compared with 67 percent average. Some 48 percent of the alfalfa had had a first cutting, up from only 22 percent the previous week and higher than the 15 percent average for this date.

Crop conditions in the good to excellent categories included spring wheat, 92 percent; sugar beets, 89 percent; corn, 92 percent; alfalfa, 86 percent; potatoes, 92 percent; and soybeans, 92 percent.

Growing degree days were ahead of normal since April 23 were ahead of normal for much of the region, with the northwest district (Moorhead, Crookston included) ranging from 45 to 75 GDDs ahead of normal, and average temperatures and precipitation all ahead of normal. West-central towns (Alexandria, Browns Valley, Canby included) were all higher than normal for temperatures, but a half-inch to 1.7 inches below normal for moisture since April 1. The central district (Staples, Willmar, Olivia included) was warmer than average, with up to 1.4 inches less than seasonal rainfall. Southwest Minnesota (Lamberton, Redwood Falls, Marshall) were warmer than normal, but generally less than an inch under average precipitation.

South Dakota

Planting continues in the corn, soybean, sorghum and sunflower crops, and ranchers were moving cattle to pasture and harvesting hay.

Conditions percentage rankings in the good to excellent categories were winter wheat, 83 percent; spring wheat, 81 percent; barley, 87 percent; oats, 88 percent; corn, 80 percent; soybeans, 81 percent; and alfalfa, 79 percent.

Cattle were ranked 90 percent good to excellent, with sheep at 88 percent and range and pasture at 85 percent in the top rankings. Feed supplies are ranked 93 percent adequate to surplus, much better than the 85 percent average for this date in the past five years. Stock water supplies were adequate to surplus in 99 percent of the cases, up from the 76 percent average.

Growing season precipitation has been ahead of normal in much of the state, but behind by 1 to 2 inches in the east-central part of the state, and the southeast, with Centerville at 2.3 inches behind normal for the date.

Crop progress included winter wheat, 73 percent in the “boot” stage, compared with a 74 percent five-year average for this date. Barley was 71 percent emerged, compared with 91 percent average, with 2 percent in the boot compared with 6 percent average.

Spring wheat was 96 percent emerged, just behind the 98 percent average. About 7 percent is in the boot stage, compared with an average of 12 percent, and none was headed.

Corn is a bit behind average at 92 percent planted. Some 67 percent was emerged, and average height was 3 inches. Twenty-four percent had had a first cultivation or spraying.

Soybeans were 63 percent planted, just behind the five-year average of 68 percent. About 22 percent of the soy acres have emerged, which is just shy of average.

Sunflowers were reported 38 percent planted, compared with 22 percent average.


The state received widespread moisture, with Nashua posting the most weekly accumulated precipitation at 4.4 inches. The northeast and southeast corners of the state have received 1½ to twice the normal precipitation since April 1.

Barley is 82 percent emerged, 4 percent in boot stage. Winter wheat is 26 percent in boot stage, compared with 31 percent average.

Camelina is 91 percent planted, 57 percent emerged; corn is 97 planted, 61 percent emerged.

Dry peas are 93 percent planted and 87 percent emerged, which compares with a 76 percent average. Durum wheat is 66 percent emerged, just about average. Lentils are 82 percent emerged, up from a 72 percent average. Mustard seed are 92 percent planted and 70 percent emerged, ahead of the 62 percent average.

Sugar beets are 87 percent emerged, a bit less than the 95 percent average for the date.

Topsoil moisture is adequate or surplus in a whopping 89 percent of the state, compared with an average of 76 percent for the past five years. Subsoil is 85 percent adequate or surplus, which is far greater than the 59 percent average for this date in the previous year.

Crop condition percentage rankings in good to excellent condition included winter wheat, 65 percent, compared with 53 percent average at this date; barley, 79 percent, average not available; and spring wheat, 79 percent good to excellent, average not available.