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Sunflowers at Petersburg, N.D. (Mark Huso/Special to Agweek)

Harvest season brings special challenges

It has been another growing season filled with sunshine and rain, drought and wind, insects and weeds, but now we can start to see some golden cereal crops in the region and begin to buckle your harvest seatbelt and take on the coming challenges of the next three months.

Farmers in my area of northeast North Dakota had a nice start to the season. Soil moisture became an issue during planting around Nelson County as other parts of the state were quite wet, for the first time in a while, we were on the dry side. Rainfall did come after planting and that fixed many of the seeding and stand issues we had.

The next fight we had become insects. Grasshoppers were greatly affecting borders of fields in our Park River and Fordville areas as they were the shortest for rainfall at that time. We continue to see hot spots of grasshoppers but the pressure is certainly down.

Weeds are continuing to provide us with new challenges. Wild oat and green foxtail seem to becoming more resistant in both cereals and edible beans. Farmers have made multiple passes of herbicides but the herbicides are unable to handle. That will change our traditional way of managing those weeds and will even alter some of our crop rotations so we don't lose control of these grass weeds.

Common ragweed is showing up more in soybean and edible bean fields. Our neighbors to the east in the valley have been battling ragweed similar to how we have been fighting kochia. Kochia is being managed much better in our area but we will adapt to focusing on controlling common ragweed in our broadleaf crops.

The crops in general look favorable for the most part. Our northern area has seen less rainfall than we were hoping for so broadleaf crops along N.D. Highway 17 could certainly use some moisture in the very near future or we could be harvesting below average crops. U.S. Highway 2 down to N.D. Highway 200 has seen enough rainfall to maintain a good crop. There are pockets of soybean fields that we notice hilltops are short moisture, but for majority of western Grand Forks, Nelson and northern Griggs counties, the soil moisture has been good.

Farmers are still spraying fungicides to prevent disease in broadleaf crops in areas that are staying wet. This time of year, disease can come in quickly and really affect edible beans if conditions are right.

Cereal harvest is just beginning around Lakota and Niagara. Farmers from the Fordville and Park River area will be close behind. Initial reports are good, while only a small sample size. We are seeing some scab in the cereals but not to the severity that should impact yield too much.

As our agronomy season changes from scouting fields to soil sampling them I had quite the event. My 6-year-old son was along with me for the afternoon scouting session. He and I were three fields in when tough luck happened. We got back to the pickup and, of course, it was locked. My son says well you better call someone. When I went to grab my phone, it wasn't there. The phone was in the pickup. My son then has the panic look. Now what do we do? My response was calm. We walk.

He and I got to share a 2.5 mile walk to one of my farmer's yards. We visited the most in that hour as we had all summer. He held my hand and reminded me how important it is to be a dad. I put 3,000 miles on my ATV this summer and not one will be as vital as the 2.5 miles I shared with little Griffin.

Harvest season is the busiest time of the year. Be careful and stay safe. Our families and friends are depending on this harvest and I hope to talk to you soon about the results we find.

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