Greetings from north central Montana! It seems like all of my columns begin with weather — like I have only weather on the brain — but in agriculture, Mother Nature has a peculiar way of dictating our conversations and stress factors.
Greetings from the new banana belt — Havre, Mont. It's 55 degrees on Dec. 10, and although I don't always agree with their burgers, McDonald's and I are lovin' it! The one thing that is 100 percent predictable about the weather — no matter where you live — is that it is unpredictable. October began with record snow, record cold and was overall kind of a miserable month. Wet, cold, cold, wet.
Goodbye summer and hello ... winter? The 14 inches of wet snow that fell on Oct. 1 was a much needed reprieve from the blasted heat, drought and fires we endured most of summer 2017. Single digit temperatures that followed the snow were a stark reminder that one has better odds at the table then trying to predict what the weather is going to do next. As we round out October in more of a moderate fall-like setting, we might have the full four seasons — although extremely lopsided — that we hope for.
The 2017 crop season is definitely one that will go in the history books and will not soon be forgotten. Red flag and fire warnings seem to be hitting my phone on a regular basis. With seemingly record heat topped with no measurable precipitation in the forecast, planning for 2018 crop season cannot come any sooner. So how did we fare the last month? Remarkably, many areas still had a harvestable crop. The fall of 2016 and spring of 2017 remind us that Mother Nature can fill our soil profile in a relatively short period of time.
Moisture wise, Montana as a whole did not fare well in the month of June. Uncomfortably dry morphed into a severely parched landscape. All of Montana, especially the eastern region along with the Flathead Valley, have had a rough growing season with large areas in extreme drought conditions.
What a difference in 30 days! Last month, producers were struggling and wondering when to begin building an ark. Today, we would like even a small shot of agua. Winter wheat in many areas is showing stress with purplish-blue colors and spring wheat is not faring much better. Pulse crops are hanging in there, especially those seeded early into moisture. In some locations in southeastern Montana, producers are cutting and baling stressed out winter wheat.
Greetings from Montana! For the next few months, I will be discussing agronomy and ag technology endeavors within the Big Sky state. I am an AGRI-TREND agronomy coach in Havre, Mont., embedded within the Torgerson's dealership.