May 7, 2009

Spring fieldwork at mixed stages in McLean County

Spring fieldwork at mixed stages in McLean County
By Brenda L. Shelkey
BHG News Service
The bad news this year is that North Dakotans were able to measure the snow in feet, instead of inches this winter. The good news – is there any good news? According to Pat Carpentier, McLean County’s extension agent, the answer to that question is strangely similar to the bad news.
“The good news is that we did have plenty of snow. It replenished the top soil and the subsoil, and filled up the sloughs and dugouts,” said Carpentier in earnest. “As of right now, it is surprising how the ground is drying out.”
Certain areas of the county have had a fair amount of seeding going on. Carpentier said that farmers have commented that they were surprised as well that they could get in as quick as they did because it was so wet this spring. But only six percent of many of the early crops are in compared to thirty to fifty percent last year.
Planting in the central part of McLean County is usually a little earlier than the rest of the county, as is west of Garrison. But the Max and Turtle Lake areas did end up with more moisture than the rest of the county – several more inches of snow – and will be even later than normal this year.
A scattering of farmers have been in the field since the last week of April, planting peas, some wheat, canola, and some of the earlier crops. Typically, McLean County farmers try to get the crops in by the last week of April into the end of May. This year, most were just getting started at the end of April.
The right conditions for seeding this year mean that the fields need to lay just right and have the proper drainage. Farmers also look at the soil-to-seed contact, meaning they are in those fields that are dried out on top just a little bit, and are moist down below. But those conditions aren’t typical for early planting this year.

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