August 10, 2017

Rains finally come, but too late for many

By Jerry W. Kram
The rains finally came, but it was too late for many producers in Sakakawea Country.
Over the past three weeks, some areas of the region have gotten nearly 2.5 inches of rain after a summer that saw grass wither and crops struggle against what is being called the worst drought in a decade. The rains were welcome, but the came too late for many producers, said Mountrail Agricultural Agent Jim Hennessy.
“It isn’t going to do anything for small grains,” Hennessy said. “It’s pretty much too late to help soybeans too as the plants have set their pods so their yield potential is set.”
Hennessy said that wheat and barley growers in the region have come to expect yields of 50 or more bushels an acre. He thinks the average for the county will be more like 40 bushels and acre this year and many areas will struggle to make 20 bushels. A lot of the crop is likely to be discounted for low test weight caused by the drought as well.
“In that Parshall country they might be looking at 35 bushels this year,” Hennessy said. “There were parts of the county that got an extra shot of rain that don’t look too bad. But there are a lot of areas that just look tough.”
Hennessy said it is also going to be a tough winter for livestock producers since hay supplies were decimated.
“Hay supplies are really tight,” Hennessy said. “A lot of guys are going be just trying to get by. The guys who have a lot of reserves should be able to sneak by. The guys who didn’t have reserves are are tight on hay are going to be culling. There are going to some cows hitting the market or shipped out for someone else to feed.”
In some parts of the state, small grains were cut for hay, but Hennessy said only about 5 percent was used that way in Mountrail County.

The Weather Network