Ready, set, plant
By Stu Merry, BHG News Service
Let the planting season begin – and it's still March. Last year, most farmers were lucky to get into the field by May. Most activity so far has been prep work – including applying fertilizer and some tillage as farmers ready their fields for seeding. But there are some reports of wheat seed in the ground in western McLean County. Some seeding is underway in the Wilton area as well. If the weather stays the same, the thought is most farmers will start in earnest between April 1 and April 15. But, is it too early? Irene Graves, McLean County agent, hedges a bet, saying she fears the long spring is too good to be true. Graves said there's good subsoil moisture, and the fields are drying as the planting season nears. She points out topsoil temperatures need to reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit for wheat and 50 degrees F. for corn to germinate. National Weather Service officials caution the record warm winter and recent record high temps could set agriculture up for a fall if conditions return to what is normal for North Dakota. Data shows that even after record warm winters the last freeze can occur late in the spring. The average date for the last freeze of the season is May 17.