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Flanked by the St. Stanislaus Church in Warsaw, N.D., Jim Gudajtes, 78, checks on the 2-acre potato field he plants for the grandkids to sell. Photo taken May 3, 2019, near Warsaw, N.D. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

Finishing planting not far behind in north RRV

WARSAW, N.D. — The Anton "Tony" Gudajtes farm of Minto, N.D., near the village of Warsaw, has just finished planting its 3,300 acres of crops — barley and wheat, dry edible beans and soybeans, and sugar beets. They also have about 2 acres of potatoes.

This year, they stuck with their normal rotation, rather than shifting crops in response to trade issues. Flooding in more southern states may add to prices in North Dakota.

Tony, 44, is the president of the Choice Financial bank in Grafton. Scott Lindenberger is farm manager and a crew of four, including Tony's dad, Jim Gudajtes, and a nephew, Cody Ulness, get the chores done.

Cody Ulness prepares to plant the last field of the year on the Anton “Tony” Gujdates farm east of the village of Warsaw, N.D.Jim says the Gudajtes family was one of the first settlers in the Warsaw area in 1885. The family ran the Gudajtes store and raised sugar beets since 1944. The farm farm stretches to Ardoch, Minn., and east of Interstate 29 in North Dakota

"We're looking at some really nice crops this year, I hope it keeps up nice weather," Lindberger says. Sugar beets "love the heat," he says. "The hotter it is, and with timely rain, they'll explode. They'll take off."

Jim says it was a "long winter" but says the crop "isn't that late," noting that one year the family didn't get into the fields until June 5, and "we got everything done." He figures late planting could have the biggest impact on pinto beans, which would be most likely to be affected by an early frost.

Jim GudajtesNearly half of the Gudajtes farm this year was covered with spring floodwaters. That set planting progress back some, but not but not as late as some perceive. In 2018, the last field of edible beans were seeded on Memorial Day. On June 3, the farm was seeding its final field — 80 acres of soybeans. "We're not that far behind, compared to last year," Lindenberger says.

June 3 finish line

Lindberger had done some early spraying June 3, but was getting ready to start with the main crop protection. "From here till fall, I'll be spraying the various crops we grow," he said.

Cody Ulness, of Minto, N.D., on May 3,  stands atop a planter prior to putting in the final field of the year.Despite the flooding, Lindenberger says he's seen relatively little weed pressure. "Everything is looking real good," he says.

In fact, the farm added about 150 acres of sugar beets through American Crystal Sugar Co.'s "Targeted Acres Program" acres—designed to counteract difficult planting and growing conditions in parts of the Red River Valley. To get in all the beets, Tony rented another quarter-section of land from a neighbor

Jim Gudajtes isn't rattled about trade disruptions, which have reduced commodity price prospects. He believes the Trump administration will improve things in the long run. "He'd better," he says. "I think it'll be alright."

Until then, the Market Facilitation Program payments to farmers are vital, he says.

And what about those 2 acres of potatoes?

Potatoes planted May 11 were rooting well but not yet emerged as of June 3. For the past 25 years Jim has planting growing a whopping 2 acres. They were planted May 11 and had not yet emerged, but the tubers were putting out roots. He half-jokes he's the biggest "potato grower" in Pulaski Township.

"It's for the grandkids," he says, with a grin. When the spuds are golf ball size, they'll harvest with a two-row antique Champion Corp. harvester. They put a sign on the highway. "It's on the honor system," he says. "There's cars here all the time."

Last year the Gudajtes family started harvesting potatoes June 22.

"This year it won't be that early. I'm hoping to have some for July 4," he says.

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