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Published September 04, 2014, 03:14 PM

Storms further delay wheat harvest

Farmers are sorting out damage from a string of storms that hit parts of eastern North Dakota and west-central Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. Some areas were hit with as much 4 inches, leading to flash flood warnings in several counties. Some reported high winds and hail, too.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Farmers are sorting out damage from a string of storms that hit parts of eastern North Dakota and west-central Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. Some areas were hit with as much 4 inches, leading to flash flood warnings in several counties. Some reported high winds and hail, too.

In North Dakota’s Barnes County, where flash flooding warnings were issued, “the rain varied quite a bit,” says Monte Peterson, a Valley City, N.D. farmer.

He’s heard reports of 3.5 inches in some parts of the county, with other areas receiving relatively little.

“Some rain came pretty hard and fast. But I’m not hearing anything too bad yet,” he says.

Kurt Krueger, who farms in Rothsay, Minn., in the west-central part of the state, says his farm received about 1.2 inches and small hail.

“We consider ourselves fortunate,” he says, noting that he’s heard reports of neighboring farms hit with several inches and golf ball-sized hail.

The storms further delayed the region’s small grain harvest, which has been hampered by repeated rains.

Krueger doesn’t raise wheat himself, but has been helping a friend harvest wheat.

“It’s been tedious, to say the least. It’s been trying,” he says of the oft-delayed wheat harvest.

As of Aug. 31, only 35 percent of Minnesota’s wheat was harvested, compared with the five-year average of 78 percent, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Only 21 percent of North Dakota’s wheat was harvested on Aug. 31. The five-year average for that date is 60 percent.

John Kringler, extension agent in Cass County, in east-central North Dakota, estimates that about 40 percent of wheat in his county has been harvested. That’s far less than normal for this time of year for Cass.

Some farmers applied desiccants so they could straight-combine their wheat. Now, with harvest delays, some fields of standing wheat to which desiccants were applied are breaking down, he says.

It’s unclear if Thursday’s precipitation will help the region’s corn and soybeans overall.

Some areas may have benefitted from the most recent rain, while others, which received too much moisture, were hurt, Kringler says.

“Ask me again in November” if Thursday’s rain helped row crops, Krueger says. “I won’t know until then.”

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