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Published November 03, 2009, 01:09 PM

Harvest continues to be slowed by rain, snow

Farmers made little if any progress in harvesting crops the past week in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota as rainy, muddy and cold conditions continued to foil field operations.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Farmers made little if any progress in harvesting crops the past week in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota as rainy, muddy and cold conditions continued to foil field operations.

Water can be seen standing in farm fields in the southern end of the Red River Valley, which has gotten more rain — up to 5 inches — the past month than the northern end.

The National Weather Service put out flood watches in the southern end of the valley last week as steady rains on already saturated fields meant the new water mostly drained quickly into ditches, streams and rivers.

There’s more and more doubt if all the beans and flax will get harvested before winter sets in, farmers and county extension agents say. Corn and sunflowers usually can make it through winter, if necessary.

Minnesota farmers got in only two days of field work last week, and North Dakota farmers only three days, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress report.

It’s the fifth-consecutive week farmers have gotten less than 3.5 days for field work.

The sugar beet harvest hardly moved the past week, with 10 percent of the crop still in the field as of Monday, said Jeff Schweitzer, spokesman for American Crystal Sugar Co. in Moorhead.

“There was no activity over the weekend,” he said.

But sunny, dry and breezy conditions Monday meant that growers were lifting beets, he said.

Only 2 percent of the corn in North Dakota has been combined, the same as a week ago, and far behind the five-year norm for the date of 49 percent; 10 percent of the soybeans were harvested, bringing the total to 36 percent harvested by Sunday, compared with the 92 percent norm; dry edible beans were 62 percent combined, up 8 percent during the week but well below the 96 percent norm; 10 percent of sunflowers are harvested, the norm being 57 percent by Nov. 1.

In Minnesota, 12 percent of the corn is harvested; the norm is 69 percent. It’s also far wetter than normal. Soybeans are 56 percent combined, up from 44 percent a week earlier and far below the 97 percent norm; dry beans are 89 percent harvested; the norm is 100 percent by now.

The good news is that the weather this week is forecast to be drier and warmer than normal.

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