Mother Nature testing N.D. growers, pushing some to opt for prevent-plant
LANKIN, N.D. -- Even with several drown-out spots on his wheat and bean fields, farmer Wade Carlson still counts himself a lucky guy. "We're sitting a lot better than some guys," he says. The northeastern corner of North Dakota may well be ground...
LANKIN, N.D. -- Even with several drown-out spots on his wheat and bean fields, farmer Wade Carlson still counts himself a lucky guy.
"We're sitting a lot better than some guys," he says.
The northeastern corner of North Dakota may well be ground zero for the prevent-plant acreage predictions, ranging this year from 1.5 million to 4 million acres. With the extremely wet conditions in that part of the state, many there are glad to see the Farm Service Agency in Washington extend the prevent-plant reporting date to Aug. 14.
"I'd say we've probably gotten more rain than others, especially here in the northern counties," Carlson says.
While farmers in the rest of the state finally are putting this year's flooding behind them, Carlson and his neighbors in North Dakota's Walsh County have been struggling to get their crops in the ground.
"Some guys only got half seeded or a third," he says. "Some guys couldn't get to their fields."
'Quite a struggle'
Several roads in the western part of the county still are underwater, keeping a friend of his from getting to his field.
"He just called it quits. He'll prevent-plant," Carlson says.
Carlson and his two brothers won't have to let any fields go unplanted, but they have had a tough row to hoe in getting their 2,500 acres planted this spring.
"It was quite a struggle," he says. "We were struggling just to get the equipment ready. We couldn't get it out of the fields."
After that, they still had to wait for fields to dry enough to let them get back in to plant. They waited as long as they could, but still did some of the planting in less than optimal conditions.
"We mudded some in. We tried to be patient, waiting it out, but we seeded what we could out there," he says. "We had a hard time just getting around the yard, even feeding hay to the cows."
Finally, the Carlson brothers got their crops planted, but then at the end of June, more than 7 inches of rain hit them in one night.
"It was quite a sight that morning," Wade Carlson says.
In some bean fields, large areas of 2- or 3-inch bean plants were washed out from runoff. In others, there are three or four drown-out spots, some still holding water. They haven't been able to gauge exactly how much drown-out he's suffered, but he says he's certain it's less than 5 percent.
For now, he and his brothers are making good progress spraying despite some fairly spongy ground.
"We're getting caught up. This past week, it's been pretty soft out there yet, but my brothers have been out for a couple days now. But we'd like to get out there and work some of those prevent-plant spots."
He says that, with the late plantings, the tough calving and the heavy drown-out, it has been a "difficult spring." But he's not really surprised.
"It's just one of them years," he says.