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Published May 19, 2010, 12:00 AM

Farmers near completion in seeding fields

With recent rains and some sunshine, spring planting of many crops is nearing completion, and while the process is ahead of last year’s schedule, most crops are behind a five-year average.

With recent rains and some sunshine, spring planting of many crops is nearing completion, and while the process is ahead of last year’s schedule, most crops are behind a five-year average.

Rain and a shortage of anhydrous ammonia have slowed some farmers.

“This year we weren’t quite as wet and most farmers were able to start planting mid-April, and then it slowed down because of the rain,” said Eric Eriksmoen, an agronomist at the North Dakota State University Hettinger Research and Extension Center.

Eriksmoen said despite recent rains putting a stall on last week’s planting, the farmers he has spoken with are about 75 percent done planting in the Hettinger area.

“Sunflowers will start going in here, oh, probably next week,” Eriksmoen said.

Jim Hauck, station manager at Southwest Grain Dickinson Seed Plant, said this year’s seed quality is excellent and seed sales have been steady, with producers hoping to be done by May 15.

“As far as we are along this year compared to last year, the planting is, actually for most crops, is behind the average, but we’re still OK,” said Darin Jantzi, director of the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, North Dakota Field Office.

Though the state did get planted earlier this year compared to last year, Jantzi said, crops such as barley, durum wheat, spring wheat, oats, canola and corn are all behind a five-year average for 2005 to 2009.

As of Sunday, barley crops were about 64 percent planted across the state, whereas at this time last year they were only about 26 percent planted due to increased rainfall and cooler temperatures.

Jantzi said this April’s conditions were good, with dry weather, a thawed ground and warm temperatures.

About 65 percent of most small grains, depending on the crop, have been planted, as compared with about 35 percent at this time last year, Jantzi said.

“A lot of the small grains last year at this time of the year they were either done or really almost done,” Jantzi said.

Recent rains have caused some muddy conditions and a few stuck tractors.

“I have gotten stuck eight or nine times, I kind of lost track,” said Jon Wert, who has been farming near New England since 1994.

Wert said while the process is going well, he would like to be a bit further along.

“If we had a good week to 10 days, we would probably be done,” Wert said.

Rain is not the only condition to slow down planting.

“The suppliers have had trouble getting anhydrous,” Wert said. “My dad called Regent, he called up by Dickinson, and everybody’s out. I’ve never experienced it.”

However, it is still too early to gauge yields.

“Just looking at the way the weather has been this year, they’ve been able to get out and plant it and we’ve gotten some rain, the soil is wetter so the crops should germinate better,” Jantzi said. “Whether that’s going to develop into a good crop, that has yet to be determined.”

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