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Corn crops were ranging from knee-high to waist-high in early July in the New Rockford, N.D., area, with the help of timely, plentiful rains. Mikkel Pates / Agweek Photo taken July 3, 2019, New Rockford, N.D.

Soybeans sat, sat, then 'blew up' in north-central ND

NEW ROCKFORD, N.D. — Crops look good in north-central North Dakota in mid-July even as farmers there were warily watching markets for potential financial returns.

Taylor Koepplin is the owner of James River Ag that was built in October 2017 with 2018 as his first full growing season in business. "We're just coming down the chemical season now, for 2019, so we're almost done with two full years," he said.

The independent company sells seed and chemicals but provides some field scouting and crop monitoring as an extra. They sell Peterson Farms Seed and Mustang Seeds for their corn and soybeans and work with a variety of herbicides and AgriPro varieties of certified wheat seed.

"Some of the earlier farmers were in the end of April," he says, of planting. It was "super-dry" and farmers were "seeding in the dust."

"We got a cold start. The ground was cold for a long time. Our corn got in late up here, but it's catching up. It started raining, finally, the corn crop is finally coming around." There was a lot of knee to waist-high corn in the area on the Fourth of July, with 2 inches to 3 inches of rain throughout the region in the month of June and early July, most often with more than a half-inch at a time. "Nice rains, we've missed a lot of storms," he says.

Soybeans were planted May 5 to May 20. Some farmers planted deeper than normal to get them into soil moisture. A heavy, soaker rain of an inch and a half crusted some soil and created emergence issues.

The crop was still lagging, but Koepplin expected it will catch up. "They always do," he said. "They seem to sit and sit, and then they blow up. (Grow quickly.) It's what they do."

Pinto beans and other edible beans look great and the wheat looks very good, he says.

The 2018 crop season was drier than farmers are used to, with no measurable rain from July 8 until Sept. 23. "Our soybeans went with no rain for the most important time for a soybean to get rain. There was a much better crop than what we thought it was going to be — not a bumper crop, but still a crop."

Soybeans in early July in the New Rockford, N.D.Koepplin sells Engenia herbicide for use on dicamba-tolerant Xtend soybeans. There hadn't been any temperature inversion issues or off-target dicamba movement as of July 4, as soybeans were small. The North Dakota Agriculture Department had extended the legal use of dicamba for soybeans to July 10.

"For the people that bought their seed here, we were 85% Xtend soybean sales," he says. "The other 15% were — a few Enlist (non-dicamba-tolerant) and Liberty Link GT27. There's a lot of Xtend soybeans here. Even if there is volatilization and issues this year, we won't really see it: everybody's has 'em."

At least for this year, the Xtend "platform" simply had a jump on the Enlist technology in his area, and farmers simply have become familiar with the varieties.