May 5, 2009

Weather conditions delay spring’s work across Mountrail County

Weather conditions delay spring’s work across Mountrail County
By MARVIN BAKER
EDITOR
There haven’t been a lot of days with favorable weather conditions to plant crops this spring, but producers are forging ahead, trying to get their seed grain in the ground as June approaches.
According to Mountrail County Extension agent Jim Hennessy, progress in the county is behind two to three weeks and in most other years, Mountrail producers are done by the third week in May.
But this spring has been anything but normal, brief snow flurries on May 19, frost on May 18 and May 16, brief periods of heavy snow on May 13 and a lot of cloud cover and generally cool temperatures, have plagued progress across the county and the state.
“In the south end, most are close to being done, but then we got frost again on Tuesday so that will be a setback,” Hennessy said. “There are a lot of areas on the north end that haven’t been touched.”
Hennessy said most producers can seed cereal grains when it’s cloudy or may be raining lightly, but one of the biggest concerns now has become soil temperature. Most grains will need to have a soil temp of 45 degrees or higher to germinate, otherwise seeds will just lie in the ground and rot.
“To be honest, what we need is a week of hot weather,” Hennessy said. “If it isn’t warm enough that seed will rot.”
Another issue is with oilseeds. Cereal grains like wheat and barley can generally withstand a spring such as 2009 has been. Flax, however, a crop grown in large amounts in the northwest, can’t tolerate temperatures below freezing. Peas will hold up to upper 20s, as will canola, but sunflowers and flax may not get planted if this weather persists much longer.
“When we get into June, we’ll have a pretty serious situation and we’ll start losing yields,” Hennessy said. “We’ve had this before. It isn’t very common, but it has happened before.”
 


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