Planting conditions vary widely

Although some early planting occurred in the Minot region, it appears overall that planting was generally a few days behind normal. This photograph was taken southwest of Minot on May 10. Kim Fundingsland/MDN

BERTHOLD – “It’s been kind of a weird year,” responded Beau Ferguson, United Agronomy, when asked about the current planting season.

Weird seems to be a pretty good description of what is happening on the countryside this spring. Some growers put their seed in the ground early while others, perhaps just a few miles distant, had to delay their planting.

Why? The best answer, but not the only answer, is related to soil moisture. In the Berthold area producers were generally pleased with the amount of moisture in the ground as they began planting. However, said Ferguson, conditions varied widely.

“I don’t know what normal is anymore,” said Ferguson. “In some areas planting was done a lot earlier depending on moisture from last fall. Some growers got in about as early on some stuff as we’ve ever seen.”

Not everybody was able to get into the fields and plant crops, mostly spring wheat, earlier than expected. The North Dakota Agriculture Department recently reported that seeding of all crops in the state is “behind or well behind the average pace.” That assessment differs from what has been taking place this spring in the Berthold area.

“We are quite a bit earlier than the rest of the state,” explained Ferguson. “For the most part, before that late snowfall, there was hardly any activity which helped us as far as having fertilizer available before everybody got going all at once.”

At the time of this writing, which was the second week of May, Ferguson said most of the growers planting wheat had completed that task and that the “guys are getting started on canola.” He added that moisture conditions, which have been adequate in the Berthold area, can be depleted very quickly due to wind and warm temperatures.

As for a preference in crops this year, Ferguson said both moisture and price has caused many growers to shun soybeans in favor of other crops.

“Soybeans took a pretty good hit over the last couple of years and that has continued,” remarked Ferguson. “They need a lot more late season moisture and that has held a lot of people off this year.”

That planting conditions in the Berthold area this spring are much different from elsewhere in the state is evidenced by the May 9 N.D. Agriculture Department crop report. The report stated sugar beet planting, primarily in the eastern part of the state, was only 17% completed. That compares to 62% on the same date a year ago.

Topsoil moisture supply statewide is listed by the N.D. Agriculture Department as 90% adequate to surplus and subsoil moisture at 80%. Pasture and range conditions are rated mostly fair to good statewide.