A good phrase for these days in agriculture is "On your mark, get set, and wait." Farmers in my area of northeastern North Dakota are patiently waiting for fields to firm up. There are a couple of places where some wheat is in the ground and some fertilizer has been applied but for the majority, we are waiting for sun and wind to dry the remaining wet spots in the fields.
Many of us remember when Brett Favre played for the Minnesota Vikings, and for at least one season it was very entertaining. Favre was quoted when asked why he wanted to be in Minnesota as saying, "The pieces are in place" for a championship run. Of course we know they were one game short of the championship game that season. You can often hear that famous Brett Favre quote on the sports talk show out of the Twin Cities, KFAN. I feel "the pieces are in place" is a fair analogy of agriculture this time of year.
The winter season is something that is very welcome in our household. I'm sure for many others, the farming season is similar to being in a race with no time to stop until the holidays roll around.
2017 is coming to an end — almost abruptly some might say. We have had some very nice extended late falls the past few years that make us forget how soon the cold and wintery weather can put an end to our season. We are still soil sampling, although it takes much longer when dealing with snow. I prefer to soil sample now, assuming we are still doing a quality job, so it takes pressure off of spring soil sampling. We would rather be available for our farmers in spring than be tied to our soil sample pickups.
Harvest is still in full swing for many with a few sitting idle until corn. Pinto bean harvest is in its last days around Nelson County. We have been blessed with very nice harvest weather the last 10 days and the bulk of the pinto beans have been harvested. The fields that were short rainfall also were short pounds, but a majority of acres saw average to above average yields.
As I write this, our spring wheat harvest is coming to an end. For all of our cereal crops we had satisfying yields and quality. Protein did have some variance depending on variety and seasonal rainfall. As mentioned last month, we had many different varieties planted within my area, and one main difference was standability issues with the high-yielding wheat varieties. Some varieties stood well while achieving yield goals, while others tended to lodge more creating a slower harvest for some.
Harvest season has started for a handful of farmers in my area. Winter wheat is done. Barley is just starting, and spring wheat will be coming off in big acres the next two to three weeks.
As we approach what I consider the "halfway point" in the growing season, my area has many things to be thankful for. 2016 was a difficult summer with the amount of rainfall we had acquired. I imagine those experiencing severe and extreme drought in the western and southern parts of North Dakota are feeling the same sentiment. We travel enough area to see that some crops could use rain in the very near future. A majority of Nelson County is holding well for moisture, but the row crops will need rain as we head into the third week of July.
It is very impressive what a farmer can accomplish when given the opportunity. Two weeks ago I would have assumed a few of the fields we monitor were not going to be planted, but as of today, there may only be one or two fields that haven't been planted yet. When the fields finally firmed up, a majority of the farmers I work with were able to get seed in the ground in a proper manner. The acres really went in with a fury. However, during that window, the wind never stopped blowing.
Planting progress varies greatly in my northeast North Dakota area. A few farmers were able to start seeding around May 2, and I have other clients who have yet to reach the field.