July 17, 2014

Area crops prosper despite wild weather this summer

By Jerry W. Kram

Area crops are doing well in most parts of the area in spite of a month of wild weather that has witnessed temperatures topping 90 degrees and dipping into the 30s along with storms dropping four inches or more of rain.

The rain helped the crops in the region prosper, said Mountrial County Extension Agent Jim Hennessy. He said all kinds of pathogens are popping up in various crops including bacterial, viral and fungal plant diseases.

"A lot of the crop looks pretty good," Hennessy said. "We are starting to see leaf diseases. Some of that leaf disease is anything from bacterial to viral. We have a little bit of wheat streak mosaic (virus) showing up. There is a lot of septoria and bloom rot, things like that starting to show up. Part of that is we have been so wet for so long. But we have a heck of a crop coming."

Hennessy said the wheat streak mosaic virus is of particular concern. It usually attacks winter wheat varieties but is being found in spring wheat fields this year.

One exception to the good fortune is the area west and south of New Town. That area was hit by a major hail storm on July 6 that caused severe damage to crops. Hennessy said the worst damage started near the east end of the Four Bears Bridge and went southeast across the peninsula towards Lake Sakakawea.

"Some of those guys had a pretty nice crop and it just wiped it out," Hennessy said. "There a three mile wide stretch south of town that got wiped out. That three mile stretch cleaned it out with losses of 70 to 100 percent. And the area of hail in total was about 10 miles wide and we saw a lot of stuff lose 10 percent to 60 percent. It was pretty widespread and hit hard."

Still, June saw plenty of moisture for crops in other areas to prosper. The NDAWN weather station at Plaza recorded 4 inches of rain for the month and the one at Hofflund, northwest of New Town, had a total of 2.4 inches.

The Weather Network