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Farmers weigh whether or not to replant after June winds batter crops

About 55,000 acres -- or 8% of American Crystal Sugarbeet Co’s acreage -- was damaged significantly during the week of June 12-19, said Brian Ingulsrud, the company’s vice president, agriculture.

A sugarbeet root pops out of the soil.
Determining whether to replant sugarbeets is a tough decision in late June because harvest is on the horizon.
Agweek file photo
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Wind and dirt combined to damage or destroy thousands of acres of sugarbeet and pinto bean fields in June.

About 55,000 acres — or 8% of American Crystal Sugarbeet Co’s acreage — was damaged significantly during the week of June 12-19, said Brian Ingulsrud, the company’s vice president, agriculture.

Sugarbeet in fields that are in an area from slightly west of Buxton, North Dakota, to Warren, Minnesota, were some of the hardest hit by the blowing winds and dirt, he said. Heavy rains that fell in that part of northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota in early June pulverized the soil, making it vulnerable to erosion, Ingulsrud said

The company originally estimated that damage to 15,000 of the 55,000 was severe enough to warrant replanting, he said. However, strong winds and dirt again sandblasted beets the following week, so on Monday, June 27, American Crystal Sugar Co. field representatives were surveying farmers’ crops to determine if there should be additional replanted acres.

If the growing point of the plant is above the part where it was twisted off in the wind, it’s “done for,” Ingulsrud said. However, if the growing point remains intact the plant can continue to grow

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If the damage warrants replanting, determining whether to do so is a difficult decision because the sugarbeet yields will depend on the weather during the growing season.

“You almost need a crystal ball to tell you whether it’s too late,” Ingulsrud said. “It’s really questionable at this time of year whether replanting makes sense. Some years it will, some years, it won’t.”

Farther south in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota, there also was wind damage during June to some of the Minn-Dak Farmers Co-op sugar beet acreage, said Mike Metzger, Minn-Dak Growers Co-op vice president of agriculture and research.

“It was pretty rough on the crop,” he said.

The Wahpeton, North Dakota, cooperative estimates that about 4,000 of the 106,000 planted were damaged.

Besides sugarbeets, wind also took a significant toll on beans in the central Red River Valley.

Near Hope, in eastern North Dakota, Tony Richards replanted about 800 acres of pintos and 700 acres of soybeans, Richards said.

"The timing of that wind and heat, when that came across, was tough on the crops,” Richards said. The damage was exacerbated because the crops were planted late, he said.

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“I think you still would have had damage, but the plant would have been more robust in its third trifoliate,” Richards said.

The wind didn't destroy but did tatter the leaves of his barley and corn, setting them back, he said.

“Got a lot of ugly crops out there right now,” Richards said on June 29, 2022.

Some Traill County, North Dakota, farmers on June 29 were still accessing damage to their bean fields and hadn’t yet made a decision about whether they were going to replant, said Jill Murphy, North Dakota State University Extension agriculture agent for Traill County.

Some corn fields also were damaged by the wind, which battered the bottom leaves, she noted.

The stages of crops, including soybeans and corn, are all over the board, so decisions about whether to replant will vary from farmer to farmer and field to field, Murphy said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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