ROTHSAY, Minn. — The 2020 is a so far, so good, scenario, says one of the region’s seasoned crop consultant. But the 30 mph winds in late June are starting to blow the soybean spraying opportunities away.
David Opsahl lives in Detroit Lakes, Minn., and has worked for Centrol Crop Consulting of Marshall, Minn., for about 25 years. He covers an area from Rothsay to Fergus Falls to Battle Lake in western Minnesota, handling 25 to 30 clients, growing corn, soybeans, sugar beets and spring wheat.
The fall was wet so farmers dealt with a lot of unworked corn stalks, Opsahl said, in an impromptu field tour on June 15 while10k battling 30 mph-plus winds.
Farmers were hoping for an early, dry spring and got some of that. “It was so cool it was a struggle getting things going,” Opsahl said. There is very minimal prevented-planting crop insurance activity in his area.
Corn was planted timely. Spraying was wrapped up as of June 15, with some farmers top-dressing a bit of fertilizer. Corn was 10 inches to 14 inches tall, typical for this time of year or “just a touch ahead.” Farmers have largely stuck with input decisions as in other years, despite low price prospects. “Who knows what’s going to happen (with prices) by fall?” he said.
Soybeans were planted in a “wide window” timewise. Some started planting early but many battled to get their last ones in the first week of June, especially when fall work hadn’t been accomplished.
Wind not helping
“They’re starting to get sprayed, the wind is not helping us this week, so ....” Opsahl said. “A little bit got done last week on the couple days they could, but for the most part we’re sitting now waiting to spray a lot of the beans.”
A two-inch rain for many farmers the week of June 8 to 14 in the area has helped keep the bean crop on-track.
About 80% of Minnesota is in adequate to surplus topsoil moisture conditions, according to the June 15 crop progress report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture is 88% adequate to surplus. Corn and soybeans both are rated 84% good to excellent.
The dicamba herbicide legal regulation fiasco and untimely ban on spraying dicamba-resistant beans came at “the poorest time it could,” with farmers right at the legal window for some applications. There was confusion left farmers in limbo for about a day, but now most everybody has their chemicals, but now the bigger problem is wind.
Many farmers switched to Liberty-resistant technologies for the past two years, Opsahl said. A few fields are dicamba, but some are concerned about the restrictions. Enlist herbicide technology also got some traction last year, because of ease of use.
“Any spraying with these winds is not good, but especially with the dicamba where we’ve had such a problem with the drift -- not only the volatility with it moving up (in ground fog) but the natural movement with winds.” With winds in the 30 mph-plus range, he said it was likely going to be June 19 before some farmers would get a chance at spraying, (North Dakota and South Dakota cutoff dates are June 30, 10 days later than in Minnesota.)
Opsahl said he’s seen more farmers using high-speed vertical-till disk equipment, making it harder to tell from a windshield whether the crops are emerging. “They’re there,” he said, smiling.. “A lot of corn trash on top of that.” He said that with the 30 mph winds, the increased “trash,” or last year’s crop residue, left on top, is helping to soil erosion from wind. “The more trash on top, the cooler the ground does stay, but definitely anytime you can keep some trash on top, keeps it from blowing, or eroding away with rain.”
Sugar beets were planted early this year, and look good so far, with only a few minor nips of untimely frost. Spring wheat got in early and by the end of June should start heading.
For the most part, it’s so far, so good.