Warm temps help crops recover

Crop conditions in the region generally are good, although farmers in the central Red River Valley are dealing with excess moisture, and those in places like northwest North Dakota are looking for rains that don't come.

Crop conditions in the region generally are good, although farmers in the central Red River Valley are dealing with excess moisture, and those in places like northwest North Dakota are looking for rains that don't come.

Here are state-by-state NASS summaries, gleaned from weekly surveys of Extension Service, Farm Service Agency and other reporters. That's followed by an Agweek Crop Stop tour, in the Interstate 94 corridor between Moorhead and St. Cloud, Minn.

2009 by the numbers

n North Dakota: Government officials still are wondering if the unplanted acres in North Dakota will hit 3 million or even 4 million acres because of excessive moisture from 2008 crops that carried over into 2009 and related problems.

NASS's survey pegs the crop with the largest poor or very poor ranking as potatoes, 10 percent, and dry edible beans, with 6 percent.


Crops rankings in the good or better ranges were barley, 88 percent; durum wheat, 86 percent; spring wheat, 85 percent; oats, 88 percent; canola, 82 percent; corn, 78 percent; dry edible beans, 75 percent; dry edible peas, 86 percent; flaxseed, 78 percent; potatoes, 63 percent; soybeans, 83 percent; sugar beets, 69 percent (down 10 percentage points from the previous week); sunflowers 80 percent; and pasture and range, 72 percent.

NASS reports that spring wheat was 58 percent jointed and 21 percent booted, compared with 87 percent jointed and 63 percent booted at this date. Durum is 47 percent booted, but is behind last year and the average pace. Barley is 60 percent jointed and 19 booted, compared with 88 percent jointed and 65 percent booted on average.

Other than small grains, most crops are behind average in development.

Canola was 42 percent in the rosette stage, compared with 79 percent last year and an 85 percent average. Potatoes were 2 percent bloomed -- two weeks behind the 18 percent average, but just behind last year's 6 percent level.

Sunflowers were 92 percent emerged, which is near the average of 94 percent.

Topsoil moisture supplies now are 71 percent adequate and 21 percent surplus, compared with a five-year average of 66 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus.

First-cutting alfalfa was 23 percent complete -- on par with last year but down from the 42 percent average from the past five years. Hay condition was rated 63 percent good or better.

The northwest corner of the state is dry, but places like Cavalier, Forest River, Langdon and St. Thomas have had 7 to 8 inches of rain since April 1.


n Minnesota: Topsoil moisture levels are surplus or adequate in northwest Minnesota, where there was localized flooding, while moisture is short in a belt across the middle. Some 78 percent of the state has adequate or better moisture.

High heat and humidity in the past week improved crop development.

Crop percentages rated in the good to excellent categories included: corn, 82 percent; soybeans, 74 percent; spring wheat, 62 percent; sugar beets, 73 percent; dry edible beans, 65 percent; sunflowers, 55 percent; canola, 23 percent; potatoes, 75 percent; and barley, 55 percent.

Crops with the highest percentages of poor to very poor rankings were canola, 18 percent; sunflowers, 9 percent; barley 12 percent; oats, 11 percent; and alfalfa, 11 percent.

Crop progress generally is behind-schedule, but catching up. Spring wheat is 15 percent heading compared with a 45 percent, five-year average. Barley is 18 percent headed, compared with a 43 percent average. About 84 percent of alfalfa producers had taken a first cutting, just shy of the 88 percent average for the date. Corn and soybean height is just about normal, and both are ahead of last year at this date.

Crookston and Warroad were at 135 and 138 growing degree days short of normal since May 4. Most of the state is short. Most of the state was a few degrees warmer than normal for the week.

n South Dakota: South Dakota temperatures averaged 6 degrees above normal for the week, with Mission hitting 100 degrees and Porcupine dipping to 36 degrees for the extremes. Southwest stations reported zero precipitation during the week, but 68 percent of the state still is in the adequate to surplus categories. Clear Lake posted the highest precipitation, at 2 inches. Subsoil moisture is rated 70 percent adequate or better, behind the five-year average by 5 percentage points.

Winter wheat was 25 percent "turning color," compared with 52 percent for the five-year average. Barley was slightly ahead of average for heading, while oats and spring wheat were a bit behind. Corn is averaging 16 inches tall, compared with a 23-inch average. About 18 percent has had a second cultivation or spraying, compared with 36 percent last year.


Soybeans were 2 percent blooming, compared with a 4 percent average.

Crop percentage rankings in the good to excellent categories included corn, 71 percent; soybeans, 64; sunflowers, 74; spring wheat, 73 percent; and barley 82 percent.

n Montana: For the week ended June 28, Montana had temperatures as high as 102 degrees in Glasgow. Topsoil moisture is adequate to surplus in 41 percent of the state, a considerable reduction from the previous week's 60 percent ranking. Subsoil moisture is ranked 47 percent adequate, down from last year's 59 percent.

Range conditions are 62 percent good to excellent, compared with an average at this date of 54 percent in the past five years.

Growing degree days are mostly higher than normal in the northeast, central and southeast parts of the state, but below normal in the north-central part of the state.

Potatoes were 68 percent emerged, down from an 84 percent average.

Crops in the "boot" stage, compared with five-year averages were barley, 51 percent, 71 percent average; durum, 37 percent, 45 percent average; oats, 70 percent, 66 percent average; spring wheat 44 percent, 65 percent average; and winter wheat 96 percent, 98 percent average. About 17 percent of the barley was heading, compared with the 30 percent average and 14 percent of the spring wheat was headed, compared with an average of 24 percent during the past five years at this date.

"Warm temperatures and limited moisture are beginning to stifle the wheat crop in the central and northeastern parts of the state," the report says. "While 48 percent of the winter wheat is headed, many fields have shorter stalks than previous years."


Crops in the good and excellent categories, compared with five-year averages at this date are winter wheat, 49 percent, 58 percent average; barley, 73 percent, 67 percent average; spring wheat, 67 percent, 71 percent average; and durum, 79 percent, 63 percent average.

Agweek crop stops

n Barnesville, Minn.: Greg Dording of Redwood Falls, Minn., works with contracted acres to produce soybean seed for a large ag technology company that deals with farmers through Minnesota up to the Canadian Border. Dording was doing field inspections -- stand counts and inventories of surrounding crops -- in the Barnesville area.

Dording's service area is from Fergus Falls, Minn., to the Barnesville and Breckenridge areas. He completes inspections in June, at the end of July and in September.

"It's been really hard around here, so wet that I can't really get into some of the fields," Dording says. "Some of the plantings were later than normal, so some came through and some are just emerging." As for whether the crop will come out of the late phase, he says, "Talk to me in July."

n Underwood, Minn.: Don Glesne cares for 20 head of beef cows and does some grain farming a couple of miles east of Underwood.

"I'm not a big farmer," he says, taking a break from putting down the first alfalfa on June 23. He guesses the hay will run 40 to 50 small square bales per acre. "There's not too many of us guys left," he says of those putting up small bales. Since then, he's received 6 inches of rain on fields that already have swathed.

Glesne has seen the impacts of a cool spring. The soybeans had just "jumped" from about June 21 to 23. The wheat was looking very good and the corn was starting to come.


"We really needed heat. This cool weather will slow it down," he says. "Of course the weeds have come real good, too."

He hopes his second hay crop will be better than the first one, which had had plenty on the top of hills, but nothing much on the side hills.

n Ashby, Minn.: Harlan and Mary Ann Balgaard live on Pelican Lake and raise corn and soybeans, with the help of their son, Sam. The family has been in the area since the 1870s.

"It's gone well," Balgaard says of the still-young summer. "We had a good spring for getting the crop in. The corn is jumping in the last few days. If the good Lord is willing, there'll be a crop. We're sitting good on rain."

Besides his cropping and some custom harvesting, Balgaard Services also has a gravel business that provides gravel to 13 to 15 townships every year.

"The townships are generally taking more gravel this year," he says. "We also do custom truck repair."

As with a lot of farmers, Balgaard's 2008 corn harvest didn't fully end until 2009.

"We finished this spring, just before we planted beans," he says.


The yield was a respectable 145 bushels an acre, with 58-pound test weight and 12.5 percent moisture. Harvest was a ticklish business.

"If I got off the row, the cobs went flying," he says.

n Glenwood, Minn.: Ron Tvrdik farms with his wife, Jean, and sons, Brad and Jeff. The family farms and raises cattle in the Glenwood-Alexandria area. They also have a small dairy. Otherwise they raise wheat, soybeans and corn.

"The wheat needed a rain earlier than we got it," Tvrdik says. "I don't know how the yield will be. The straw is going to be short." Typically, wheat in this area averages in the low 40s in bushels per acre. The soybeans were looking good. "Emergence could have been better," Brad says. "Now that we've gotten some rain, it's all started to grow, finally."

The Tvrdik family's corn is behind schedule, but is catching up. It, too, emerged poorly in a cold and dry spring.

"It's got potential," he says, noting that the corn was sprayed by June 23 and the beans were getting their first attention.

The alfalfa had a weak first cutting of 1 ton to 1¼ tons per acre, because of the cold, dry spring.

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