Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
BEACH, N.D. — This wasn't a good growing season for farmers in the Beach, N.D., area. But farmers and ranchers here know many of their drought-stricken neighbors are far worse off. "It's definitely been a challenging year for us," said Levi Hall, general manager of the Beach Cooperative Grain Co. Even so, "All summer long, Beach has been the greenest spot I've seen as I've driven around southwest North Dakota. It's not something to brag about, because we were definitely dry, but you don't need to go far from here to see some of the worst spots in the state."
Though crops and pastures in parts of the Upper Midwest have rebounded after widespread mid-August rains, drought continues to plague much of the region, a new government report says. The weekly crop progress report, reflecting conditions Aug. 27 and released Aug. 28 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, finds that big chunks of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana remain short of both topsoil and subsoil moisture. Minnesota, in contrast, continues to avoid the worst of the drought.
> Three dozen agriculturalists, most of them North Dakota extension officials, visited Nebraska on Aug. 15-16 to learn more about Palmer amaranth, a destructive weed that's working its way north.
INKSTER, N.D. — Red River Valley potato growers generally have avoided drought and deluge this growing season. That bodes well for the soon-to-begin 2017 harvest. "The crop is looking really good in Minnesota, and it looks very good in North Dakota. We're optimistic," said Chuck Gunnerson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association.
North Platte, Neb. — They waited patiently beside the Nebraska corn field on a warm August afternoon. One by one, they had their photo taken next to the seven-foot-tall Palmer amaranth plant on the field's edge. For many of the tour members, the informal photo opportunity was their first personal exposure to what could be one of the most serious agricultural menaces the Upper Midwest has ever seen. "We sure hope we don't see this at home. But we have to try to get ready for it," said Bill Hodous, Ramsey County, N.D., extension agent.
Palmer amaranth, a dangerous and destructive weed, is coming to North Dakota. A mid-August training trip to Nebraska, in which Agweek is participating, will help agriculturalists in the state and elsewhere be better prepared when the weed arrives. "We'll learn first-hand how not only the extension service but also how retailers and service providers are attacking Palmer amaranth in soybean and corn production in Nebraska," says Tom Peters, Extension sugar beet weed specialist for North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota.
You can take the agricultural journalist out of North Dakota. But you can't take away his North Dakota memories and heritage. Veteran ag journalist Ed Maixner, based for many years in the Washington, D.C., area, has self-published a memoir about his early life on the Flying M Ranch in southwest North Dakota. His "Flying M: Boyhood Memories of North Dakota Farm Life" is now available on Amazon at https://goo.gl/4fZtMm
BROOTEN, Minn. — This is the story of a central Minnesota dairy family that wanted to add income to its operation and support the next generation. It's also the story of a young woman with a passion for making cheese and who, like her three sisters, is a pronounced redhead. The extended Jennissen family and its Redhead Creamery are proof that value-added agriculture is always important and sometimes enjoyable, especially when done with family.
Crop conditions have stabilized in the drought-ravaged Upper Midwest, according to a new government report. Thought drought remains a huge concern, crops aren't any worse off overall than they were a week earlier, according to the weekly crop progress from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report, issued Aug. 7, reflects conditions on Aug. 6. Corn reflects the overall stabilization in crop conditions.
CARRINGTON, N.D. — There's no such thing as a "typical" North Dakota farm town. Soil types, average annual rainfall and growing season length vary greatly across the state, leading to major differences in agricultural practices from east to west and north to south. But Carrington — population about 2,050 and known as the "Central City" because it's roughly in the middle of the state — is as close to "representative" as North Dakota farm towns get. Ag producers here raise most of the same crops and livestock found elsewhere in the state.