Though it too has been impacted by the drought, the barley crop north of Devils Lake, North Dakota, is turning out to be a decent crop, given the circumstances. Wheat, however, is a different story.

“I would say our barley crop this year is going to be better than our wheat crop,” agronomist Jason Hanson of Rock and Roll Agronomy LLC, said. “It did not take as much moisture to germinate it.”

Two-row barley held its own this growing season, despite having less than desirable weather conditions. Given that it is a cool season crop, the blistering heat has not been ideal for the barley, yet it has held its own.

Jason Hanson, an agronomist with Rock and Roll Agronomy, is worried about the wheat crop in his area. Photo taken July 26, 2021 in Webster, N.D. ( Emily Beal / Agweek)
Jason Hanson, an agronomist with Rock and Roll Agronomy, is worried about the wheat crop in his area. Photo taken July 26, 2021 in Webster, N.D. ( Emily Beal / Agweek)

“Our yields will be down compared to what we’re used to, but this looks pretty decent for the year,” Hanson said. “We’re going to have some kernels in here that have aborted because you can’t hold the moisture on a 95 degree day for six days in a row.”

While the hot conditions and lack of rainfall potentially stunted the barley’s growth, the dryness did help with disease prevention. According to Hanson there was no sign of scab this year or disease in general. He attributes this to the drought conditions.

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In terms of yield for the barley, Hanson predicts the barley to be half to two-thirds of what producers would see on a typical year.

A grasshopper sits on a head of barley. Photo taken July 26, 2021 in Webster, N.D. ( Emily Beal / Agweek)
A grasshopper sits on a head of barley. Photo taken July 26, 2021 in Webster, N.D. ( Emily Beal / Agweek)
“We just ran out of subsoil moisture. We had no rain last fall, no snow this winter and no spring rains which we always get. It’s been tough. In this part of the world we always seem to get rain, but we haven't this year,” Hanson said.

The area received two inches of rain in the second to last week in July, a much needed shower that may have saved the barley crop in general.

Given the dry circumstances, the barley crop near Devils Lake, North Dakota, is turning out better than expected. Photo taken in Webster, North Dakota, on July 26, 2021. 
Emily Beal / Agweek
Given the dry circumstances, the barley crop near Devils Lake, North Dakota, is turning out better than expected. Photo taken in Webster, North Dakota, on July 26, 2021. Emily Beal / Agweek
“If we didn’t have that rain we would have smaller kernels, thinner kernels, probably have some issues with some of the grading on it, but I feel pretty good about it now,” Hanson said.

The wheat crop has not fared nearly as well, with Hanson estimating yield to be less than ideal.

“If you're over 40 this year, count your lucky stars,” Hanson said.

Some of the season’s warmest days were during the flowering stage of the crop, which was hard for the plant to overcome. In addition, there was a significant lack of subsoil moisture, making it difficult for the plant not only to grow, but to emerge in general.

Hanson stands in a wheat field that has a variety of growing stages within its acres. Photo taken July 26, 2021 in Webster, N.D. ( Emily Beal / Agweek)
Hanson stands in a wheat field that has a variety of growing stages within its acres. Photo taken July 26, 2021 in Webster, N.D. ( Emily Beal / Agweek)
The wheat field showed quite a variety of growing stages, some patches being almost ready to be harvested, while other areas are still very green. Those green areas in the field were much later to emerge due to the lack of precipitation and waited on some moisture to emerge from the ground.

“Some of this stuff you would be desiccating in five or six days, the stuff we’re standing in is going to take another two weeks,” Hanson said. “You gotta hope that this stuff that’s yellow isn't gonna shell out.”