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Recent wet years help with soil moisture in eastern North Dakota

Though many producers are facing drought-like conditions as they head into planting season, producers in parts of eastern North Dakota are seeing high subsoil moisture.

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Colfax, N.D., farmer Jay Myers said the moisture from recent wet years is still in the subsoil moisture, making for good conditions to plant into after a dry fall, winter and spring. Photo taken May 4, 2021, near Colfax, N.D. (Emily Beal / Agweek)

Though many producers are facing drought-like conditions as they head into planting season, producers in parts of eastern North Dakota are seeing high subsoil moisture.

“You know, we were a little on the wetter side to start with, but now it’s dried out pretty good. We have plenty of subsurface moisture in this part of the state,” said Jay Myers, a Colfax, N.D., farmer. “It's been dry ever since harvest last year, but we were so darn wet before that, we’re still working off that subsoil moisture. So I think we’re set up pretty good to start with, but this is probably one of the drier springs we’ve seen in quite a few years.”

Myers and his crew began their planting season about a week ago. So far, they have had few interruptions by Mother Nature and have been able to stay on schedule. He plans to plant half of his acres in corn and the other half in soybeans , a rotation he has grown to like over the past couple of years.

“It rained a little bit on Sunday night, it didn’t slow us down too much, maybe a half-day or so,” Myers said on Tuesday, May 4.

However, though rainfall and dryness have not made a negative impact on Myers' planting season, the overall temperature of his fields’ soil has been lower than a typical year.

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“This year has just been a little bit colder, so we’ve been a little more cautious just getting started because of the cold weather,” Myers said. “The soil temperatures are a little bit colder than normal, but that could change pretty fast in another week if we start to get some heat that will change.”

Another common issue many producers face during planting season is needing to repair their equipment or replace a part of their machinery. According to Myers, many producers have been talking about the current parts shortage and the increasing difficulty to find needed parts.

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“There has been a lot of talk about parts and different things being hard to get. We had a shaft break on a planter last weekend and there were only three parts in the whole United States, and the closest one was just about four hours away. If we were going to order that part, it was going to take until July 29th to get here,” Myers said. “Luckily we were able to just weld up the shaft we had, but we did go get the closest one just to have one on hand.”

Myers hopes to have all his seeds in the ground by the middle of May and is hopeful about the season’s outcome.

“This year it doesn’t look like we're going to be very wet, so we should have a good planting season,” Myers said.

Read more about the 2021 planting season:

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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