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Published August 25, 2014, 11:10 AM

Weekend rains boost area crops

idespread rains across the Upper Midwest during the weekend of Aug. 23 and 24, particularly on Saturday, Aug. 23, gave a huge boost to still-maturing crops, including corn, soybeans and potatoes, area farmers and agriculture officials said on the morning of Monday, Aug. 25.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Farmers once described timely, crop-boosting precipitation as “a million-dollar rain.” The dollar figure is outdated because of higher crop prices, but the concept remains valid.

Widespread rains across the Upper Midwest during the weekend of Aug. 23 and 24, particularly on Saturday, Aug. 23, gave a huge boost to still-maturing crops, including corn, soybeans and potatoes, area farmers and agriculture officials said on the morning of Monday, Aug. 25.

Though some areas received too much precipitation, “In general, this was a good rain,” says Michael Knudson, North Dakota State University Extension Service agent in Grand Forks (N.D.) County.

All 75 reporting stations in North Dakota, western Minnesota, northern South Dakota and eastern Montana monitored by the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network received rain on Aug. 23. Though some stations reported less than a tenth of an inch, many received half an inch to 2 inches.

Many area fields had gone several weeks without significant rainfall and some were running short of moisture. Ideally, the Aug. 23 and 24 rains would have come earlier, but they still fell in time to benefit many fields, farmers and ag officials say.

“This helped potatoes,” says Andy Robinson, NDSU and University of Minnesota extension potato agronomist.

Many potato plants have reached the stage where they’re bulking up, and the recent rains will give them extra moisture to help, he says.

The precipitation also softened soils and will make potato harvest easier, he says.

The recent rains will help corn, too, says Kim Swenson, a Lakota, N.D., farmer and president of the state Corn Growers Association.

Some fields were doing fairly well on moisture even before the recent rains, he and others note.

Soybeans, which along with corn and wheat are the region’s three major crops, also are bolstered by the recent rains, Knudson says.

The rains hampered the harvest of wheat and other small grains. But the small-grain harvest was just beginning and producers generally will be able to work around the delay, Knudson and others say.

Gain and loss

Dazey, in east-central North Dakota, received 3.35 inches of rain Aug. 23, the most of any reporting station monitored by the North Dakota Ag Weather Network. That was more precipitation than farmers there wanted.

“We went from being a little on the dry side to being the wet spot. But that’s farming,” says Jim Broten, a Dazey farmer.

The heavy rain will “cause some loss on the small grains. But I think that will be more than made up with the gain on the corn and soybeans,” he says.

“At least that’s what I’m hoping. You always need to be optimistic in farming,” Broten says.

Check the Sept. 1 print issue of Agweek for an expanded article on the Aug. 23 and 24 rains and the region’s crop outlook.

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