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Published June 28, 2010, 12:00 AM

Corn should be ‘knee-high by Fourth of July’

Some of the northern Red River Valley’s crops are suffering from wet feet, but so far, farmers in much of the area are watching and working to help the crop run toward a finish that is weeks or months away.

By: Mikkel Pates, Forum Communications Co., INFORUM

Some of the northern Red River Valley’s crops are suffering from wet feet, but so far, farmers in much of the area are watching and working to help the crop run toward a finish that is weeks or months away.

Field flooding and standing water has bedeviled crops in areas such as the Devils Lake area, North Dakota State University Extension officials said. Much of the northeastern half of the state was in a “surplus” moisture condition, with much of the area 2 to 3 inches ahead of normal since April 1, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Still, most cereal crops such as wheat and barley and many row crops have strong potential that farmers and aerial applicators are working overtime to protect. The NDSU Crop and Pest Report listed a parade of potential pest problems, including wheat midge, army worms, sunflower beetles, as well as sugar beet root maggots and cutworms. Some of the problems simply bear watching.

Robert Green, who farms in the St. Thomas area in Pembina County, said he’s looking at one of the best sugar beet crops he’s seen “in years” for this date, while his wheat is “pretty good,” and his dry edible beans are at risk for white mold.

Green said that so far, the year is outstanding for getting crops seeded and continuing moisture. “Last year, we worked three times as hard as normal to get a poor job done,” he said. “This year, we worked half as hard and got an excellent job done.”

Bill Smith, North Dakota State University Extension Service agronomy agent for Grand Forks County, juggled the week’s crop scouting responsibilities.

“Most of the people I’ve talked to are pretty happy,” Smith said. “The corn that I’ve seen around here looks good,” but beans are suffering from the yellowing of “iron chlorosis,” a condition that is related to wet, cool soils earlier in the season, and an inaccessibility of the younger plants to iron in the soil.

“If we got (warmer) weather, we’d be fine with that,” Smith said.

Small grains in the county are looking good, too, he said. “Most of the spring wheat and barley I’ve seen is headed or heading. We’re actually looking at harvest in the first week of August, probably. It depends on how long the grain will take to dry down.”

Beyond the valley

Greg Endres, an NDSU Extension Service area agronomist based in Carrington, N.D., said the “cool season” crops, such as wheat, barley, canola, flax and field peas, in his area look “extremely good,” with adequate soil moisture. Corn and soybeans in that area are generally looking good, too.

“I’m still hearing of some people planting soybeans yet,” Endres said Friday. “The corn is growing very quickly, and with warmer temperatures and good moisture, there’ll be no problem with having it knee-high by the Fourth of July – maybe waist-high – from here, southward.”


Mikkel Pates is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald

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