Harvest in full swing
Spring wheat yields average to poor
The 2013 spring wheat harvest season is underway in most areas in Walsh County. Yield and quality is variable depending on location and field conditions.
“I’m hearing wheat yields anywhere from 15 to 80 bushels-per-acre,” Walsh County Extension agent Brad Brummond said Tuesday. “I’ve never seen that kind of variability before.”
The lower yield numbers are coming from the sandy soil areas around Fordville.
“I’m hearing reports that there is a significant amount of acres in the 20-bushel per acre range there,” Brummond said. “We’re going to have some crop insurance kick in there.”
According to the latest North Dakota Crop Progress and Condition report from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, 28 percent of spring wheat in the state has been harvested. That’s well behind the 94 percent mark of wheat harvested this time last year and below the 53 percent average.
Brummond said the percent of wheat acres harvested by farmers is real variable depending on where you reside in the county.
“It’s been really hit and miss,” he said. “If you drive east of Grafton I think you’ll find we’re over 25 percent done and a third in some areas. Around Park River and Fordville some are between 30 and 40 percent done. You go west around Lankin and they haven’t started yet.”
According to Lee Gudajtes of Gudajtes Farms of Minto, they were about 85 percent done as of Monday. He said that’s due in part to the fact they got into the fields early this year, but decided to plant more late-season crops as the wet spring developed.
Gudajtes said wheat yields have been around average with test weights between 62-64 pounds-per-bushel and around 60 bushels per acre.
As far as other crops are concerned, including sugar beets, corn, soybeans and dry edible beans, it depends on which areas got timely rains and which areas remain dry.
“I was in one field where there were some cracks so big I could stick my hand in them, that’s no fun for tilling either,” Gudajtes said. “Everybody needs rain. We’re almost in disaster mode around here, if you ask me.”
When it comes to beans, Brummond said the stress of abnormally dry conditions will most definitely be affecting yields.
“If your beans are flowered already, the plants will abort blossoms in this heat and dry weather,” he said. “Once those pods are set, if there’s not enough moisture to drive those pods, the defense mechanism in the plant is to shrivel up and start dropping things. I think there’s going to be a lot of pods that are going to be pretty empty.”
As of Monday, according to the statewide report, dry edible beans setting pods was at 91 percent, behind 100 percent last year and the 98 percent average. Condition rated 3 percent very poor, 12 percent poor, 45 fair, 37 good and 3 excellent.
Soybeans setting pods was at 93 percent in the state behind 100 percent last year and the 99 percent average.
Brummond said the parched conditions and extremely dry ground is not only stressing crops, but will pose some big problems come harvest time.
“We have some white potatoes that are golf ball-sized. They need to get water and they need to bulk up,” he said. “On top of that, when you try to take potatoes out of ground as hard as it is now, that’s going to skin them.”
Brummond said the potatoes need time to build up their skin. If they get skinned during harvest they won’t keep in storage and rot. But before harvest, the potatoes need to get bigger.
“The dry weather is stopping the development of these potatoes,” he said. “A potato is just about all water so it takes water to grow.”
Brummond said the lack of development will most hurt potatoes that are grown for chips and french fries.
“They need to be a certain size or they’re not marketable.”
Sugarbeets in the region are much in the same boat as potatoes. According to the statewide report, potatoes at the rows filled stage were at 92 percent, behind 100 percent last year and the 99 percent average. Only 41 percent of the potato crop in the state is considered good.
The condition of sugarbeets in the state are 8 percent poor, 34 percent fair, 55 percent good and 3 percent excellent.