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Soaked fields set back crops up and down the Red River Valley

Soaked fields are adding to a year with high diesel prices, fertilizer and part shortages.

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A farm field is saturated in Wyndmere, North Dakota, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
Contributed / Steve Elwell
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WYNDMERE, N.D. — The days of rain have soaked farm fields so much, most farmers cannot plant yet. Now they are running out of time, piling on to what is already a challenging year for growers in light of parts shortages and rising diesel prices.

Water has very few places to go in Wyndmere. WDAY News crews could see it pooling up in flat ditches, stretching far into the corn fields — soaking it all like a giant sponge. It is making it difficult to get farm equipment out to plant. They are growing ponds when they want to be growing corn.

Carson Klosterman said it has been a long time since he saw his fields pool up in the middle of May.

"I would have to say it was about 10, 11 years ago," he recalled.

Klosterman normally plants in late April, saying he wants to be busy planting right now. But his temporary waterfront property is preventing that from happening.

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"(With the) rains we had in April and the rains so far 11 days into May, things are looking a little bleak — or wet," Klosterman said.

Jean Henning, with the North Dakota Corn Council, said most growers have to plant their corn by May 25. This is the cutoff to get planted corn crops insured, and she says it is not worth it to plant without it.

"The roads are spongy, the fields are lakes," Henning said. "We have record prices right now, we have ample moisture, subsoil moisture, we really were hoping that this would be a good year for the farmers, but they're really struggling to get into the field."

Klosterman said the prices are indeed high, but without seeds in the ground, it is tough for farmers like him to take advantage of the market.

Soaked fields add to a year with high diesel prices, fertilizer and part shortages. Klosterman is still waiting on parts for one of this tractors.

"(We) couldn't plant if we want it to because nobody's got a part for us," he said.

According to data from the North Dakota Corn Council, the state was at about 30% planted on May 8 in 2021. It is now at about 1%. The Corn Council reports most other crops — like soybeans, sugar beets and barley — are far below where they should be at this time of year. Henning said other states like Michigan and Illinois are going through similar problems.

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