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Doug Ginther's corn grew from knee-high on July 5 to shoulder-high on July 10. That's no small feat as he's 6-foot-4. Photo taken July 10, 2017, at Devils Lake, N.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

Devils Lake's fast-growing corn

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Douglas Ginther farms and does custom work about 7 miles north of Devils Lake, raising mostly corn and soybeans and a bit of wheat and barley.

The soybeans were just starting to bloom on July 10, about as healthy as any in the eastern part of the state. Ginther tells a visitor that he sprayed the second pass of herbicides on the corn on July 5.

The 78- to 82-day maturity corn was growing fast — knee-high on July 5 but shoulder height on July 10. That's no small feat because Ginther stands 6-foot-4.

"It likes this heat and humidity," Ginther says, on an 85-degree evening.

Ginther raises about 5,000 of his own acres, but his crew custom plants on another 12,000 for others in the region. He and a son-in-law and hired men do custom work up to the Canadian border. He also has a herd of about 40 head of Black Angus cows, which are managed in concert with a 200-head herd owned by his son-in-law, Brian Kraft, of St. Michael, N.D.

"We were wet going into the spring, and we dried the topsoil out," Ginther says. "We didn't have any emergence issues, though. Everything came up timely. We could use some rain but we're not in a dire situation yet."

He dabbled in wheat this year for a seed crop.

"It's been a long time since I've had any wheat in," Ginther says.

His buddies in the custom combining business report that they've bypassed big chunks of South Dakota and North Dakota where there'll be no wheat crop because of drought.

Fortune and luck

Ginther says he feels "fortunate, very lucky" to have gotten about 5 inches of rain during the growing season, which is about normal. He's also so far missed some of the hail that hit farmers 5 miles away in late June, forcing the reseeding of soybeans and edible beans.

The corn is looking exceptionally good, and the soybeans were flowering. The barley looked good and the wheat was just starting to head on July 10. Some of the early barley will be harvested in the first week or 10 days of August.

The custom-combining business runs four machines. He gets three new ones every year and leases one back every year.

Most people have gotten out of durum wheat in the region that is at the northeast corner of the traditional Durum Triangle. There's too much disease and vomitoxin, Ginther says. Some couldn't market it at all last year. More canola and yellow field peas are being planted, but he sticks with the basics to accommodate his harvesting clients.