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Published June 20, 2014, 09:40 AM

Pests, weeds could be a struggle for farmers in late-season planting

Farmers in the region are nearly finished with their planting, making headway in sunny spurts despite considerable delays during the spring. Still, disagreeable temperatures and long bouts of rain will leave crops in the ground more susceptible to pests, weeds and bad weather, producers and experts say.

By: Michael Hricik , Forum News Service

Farmers in the region are nearly finished with their planting, making headway in sunny spurts despite considerable delays during the spring.

Still, disagreeable temperatures and long bouts of rain will leave crops in the ground more susceptible to pests, weeds and bad weather, producers and experts say.

During wet seasons, the demand for aerial herbicide and pesticide applicators inevitably increases, said Rick Marburger, owner of Williston, N.D.-based Aero Spraying Service. Access to fields can be a challenge when equipment becomes stuck in the mud.

Marburger said he has mostly been working on the ground lately, applying pre-emergent products before plants start blooming.

“It’s been a struggle to do in a timely fashion,” he said.

Marburger said he has also been frustrated with a profundity of cutworms that have thrived this season. He said he is preparing for busy times, helping farmers in the skies in July.

Halliday farmer Larry Frei said he has been surprised how efficiently his planting has gone, as well as his spraying and fertilizing.

But Frei said he did not want to “paint a rosy picture” overall. He acknowledged that he is an anomaly in Dunn County.

“Some of my neighbors are really, really struggling,” Frei said.

Late in the spring, farmers had planted 96 percent of spring wheat by Sunday, slightly above the 93 percent five-year average, according to the National Agriculture Service. Producers also reported that they had planted 96 percent of their corn.

But about 28 percent of producers said that they were experiencing a surplus of topsoil moisture.

A wet spring last season exacerbated soil moisture, said Morton County, N.D., Extension agent Jackie Buckley. Spraying for weeds has been delayed because of such conditions, which can inhibit herbicide effectiveness, she said.

Jordan Moenkedick, a Regent, N.D.-based agronomy production specialist for Alliance Ag Cooperative, said she has not been able to use her company’s sprayer yet, something she is not happy about.

“Our pre-emergent coverage is, I would say, mostly non-existent,” Moenkedick said. “And chemicals we use don’t work on some of the mature weeds we see.”

But Moenkedick said with the chance for drought always lingering, she does not wish away moisture. With younger seeds now in the ground, a completely dry summer or fall would not be ideal.

“I don’t want the rain to shut off, but some heat would be great, especially for corn,” Moenkedick said. “A little sunlight would go a long way right now.”

Rain has been far from widespread in southwest North Dakota, Buckley said. The state averaged between a half-inch to two inches of rain last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,

“We haven’t seen as much moisture as the people further south,” she said. “People want to see more of it.”

Since it is too late to plant corn, producers are working quickly to seed crops like sunflowers, which can still prosper even when starting in late June or early July, Moenkedick said.

And for those who have acres left unplanted, some good news came on Wednesday.

Prevented -lanting reporting deadlines were extended to coincide with the final acreage reporting date of July 15, said Aaron Krauter, the Farm Service Agency North Dakota state executive director. This can affect how farmers are reimbursed through crop insurance and disaster programs.

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