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Published April 04, 2009, 12:00 AM

Planting postponement

March may have come in like a lamb, but it definitely went out like a lion, bringing with it cold, wet weather that will keep farmers out of the field for some time, officials say.

By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press

March may have come in like a lamb, but it definitely went out like a lion, bringing with it cold, wet weather that will keep farmers out of the field for some time, officials say.

In the United State’s Department of Agriculture and National Agricultural Statistics Service North Dakota Crop, Livestock and Weather Report for March, an estimate of the statewide average starting date for fieldwork is expected to be April 29, two weeks behind last year’s expected start date.

Patrick Carr, associate agronomist with NDSU’s Dickinson Research Extension Center said he feels it may even be later than that.

“We’re definitely going to be behind,” Carr said. “The state climatologist out of Bismarck is feeling that we’re going to have a fairly wet and cool April and if that holds true, than boy we’re going to be delayed longer than two weeks.”

Carr said next week will give producers and officials an idea of what kind of weather to expect in the upcoming weeks.

“I know they were talking about temperatures in the 40s next week and if we get a lot of snow melt, combine that with dryer temperatures and winds, well, then maybe two weeks is reasonable,” Carr said. “If we get more snow, wet conditions and it stays cools and not getting a lot of snow melt, I hate to guess how long we’re going to be delayed.”

According to USDA estimates, expected starting dates usually range from April 10 in the southwest district to May 3 in the west central and north central districts. While planting season is just around the corner, Carr said a lot of producers are more focused on the struggle to complete calving and lambing.

“I’m afraid to ask producers out here (about the upcoming planting season) because so many of them have livestock and that’s really what they’ve been fighting and I know they’re very frustrated,” Carr said.

USDA estimates show calving and lambing were 42 and 60 percent complete respectively across the state.

Despite a larger amount of snow, Carr said he hasn’t heard anyone complain about too much moisture.

“I haven’t heard anyone complain who tried to grow crops last year about there being too much water out here,” Carr said. “As you move east it’s a different story. … We can grow something when we’ve got water.”

Cal Hoff, a farmer who resides 4 miles north of Richardton, said he believes producers will be a little behind this season.

“Last year we were planting for a week already,” Hoff said. “It’s a concern anytime you get too late, you wonder if your crops will have enough time to grow.”

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