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Published October 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

Going still slow for beet harvest

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – October has been a slow month for farmers harvesting the last of their crops. Only 2.4 days last week were fit for field work across North Dakota, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress reports.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald, INFORUM

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – October has been a slow month for farmers harvesting the last of their crops. Only 2.4 days last week were fit for field work across North Dakota, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress reports.

It’s the fourth consecutive week farmers in the state had 3.5 days or fewer to harvest because of rain and muddy fields. Last week was even worse in Minnesota: 1.9 days fit for harvest. Since Oct. 5, farmers have had an average of only two days a week to get their crops in, USDA reported Monday.

The long spell of wet weather is affecting the quality of the crops left standing. One Grand Forks County farmer said last week he was seeing mold developing in navy bean fields waiting to be combined.

The crops that have been harvested are coming in extra wet, meaning more cost to farmers to dry them to be stored.

Only 44 percent of Minnesota’s soybeans were combined by Sunday, compared to 93 percent by the same date in an average year. North Dakota’s farmers have harvested only 26 percent of their soybeans, compared to 87 percent in the five-year average by the same date.

American Crystal Sugar Co.’s sugar beet harvest is behind by 10 percentage points or more from average, and several receiving stations were closed again Monday because of the muddy conditions. About 82 percent of the beets were lifted as of Monday, said Jeff Schweitzer, company spokesman. Normally by this date, 93 percent or more of the beets have been lifted.

The average yield, co-op wide, looks to be edging a little down, closer to 23 tons than 24 tons as earlier projections indicated, Schweitzer said.

The corn harvest remains two weeks or more behind normal, with only 2 percent combined in North Dakota, compared with 33 percent on average by Oct. 25. In Minnesota, 6 percent of the corn was harvested by Sunday, compared with the 48 percent norm.

Sunflowers are 8 percent harvested in North Dakota, 20 percent in Minnesota, compared to the norms of 36 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

Dry edible beans, including navies and pintos, were 54 percent harvested by Sunday, compared to the norm in North Dakota of 93 percent. In Minnesota, dry beans were 88 percent combined by Sunday, close to the 99 percent norm.


The Grand Forks Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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