Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
An old enemy to Upper Midwest grain farmers is returning in force this growing season. Scab, also known as Fusarium Head Blight, presents a "high" or "medium" risk in big chunks of central and eastern North Dakota, eastern South Dakota and central and southern Minnesota, according to the website of the Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center. "Growers in the high-risk areas should consult with local extension specialists or other advisors regarding the need for fungicide applications to protect the crop," the website says.
ELIZABETH, Minn. — Two important things will be changing in David Holt's life. But two even more important things will not: He continues to farm near Elizabeth, west of Fergus Falls, Minn. And he continues to fight the good fight, and successfully so, against Parkinson's disease.
Years ago, when I was just getting started in journalism, my 11-year-old car became unreliable and so I needed a "new" one. I ended up buying a five-year-old car; I'd diligently saved about two-thirds of the purchase price and borrowed the rest at 15 percent. Yes, 15 percent. It was the '80s. Inflation was rampant and interest rates were high. That's just the way things were for everyone.
Like many other Upper Midwest farmers, Matt Nelson got off to a slow start planting this spring because of uncooperative weather. But he got his crops into the ground, albeit later than ideal. Now, "I'm a little surprised by how they look. They're more advanced than I would've thought" given late planting, Nelson says. Overall, his crops — spring wheat, barley, corn, canola and black beans — look good, though more rain will be needed.
Two breakouts on top, followed by main bar. The basics of CRP The Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, is a federal program that gives landowners an annual per-acre payment to take environmentally sensitive farmland out of production. The land receives a specially designed vegetative cover that reduces soil erosion, improves soil and air quality and develops wildlife habitat. CRP contracts typically are for 10 or 15 years.
Generalizing about Upper Midwest crop conditions is risky. What's true in some areas, or even in most, is never true in all. But this much is certain: Area crops continue to do well overall, though heavy rains in places, particularly South Dakota, have caused major damage. Unfavorable planting conditions already were hampering South Dakota crops, and the recent excess rains exacerbate those early difficulties.
HUTCHINSON, Minn — Ryan Bushman has seen many good crops during his time in the Hutchinson, Minn., area. He's optimistic that 2018 is bringing another. "It's looking good. We're a little wet in places, but it's really coming along," says Bushman, owner and operator of Prairie Road Crop Consulting in Hutchinson.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Planted sunflower acres are up, and the fledgling crop looks "phenomenal." That more than offsets, at least for now, concerns about potential disruptions in exports, sunflower officials say. "The crop is off to a great start. Right now, it looks just beautiful. I think we're headed for a good crop this year," said John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association.
Corn likes heat and moisture. It's generally received plenty of both in the Upper Midwest recently, and so the crop is developing nicely, a new government report says. Spring wheat and soybeans, as well as corn, are progressing well on balance in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to the weekly crop progress report released June 25 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Tim Courneya says Upper Midwest farmers are emailing him photos of their "picture-perfect" dry bean fields, a good indication of how well the 2018 crop has developed so far. But Courneya, executive vice president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, based in Frazee, Minn., notes the crop won't be harvested for months and "will take some hits from the weather" before then.