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A harvest to remember

Posted 9/09/09 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Things at the local elevator may not show it, but one of the greatest harvests in McKenzie County is in full swing.
“As of Sept. 4, harvest is about 35 to 40 percent complete,” says Dale Naze, NDSU Extension agent. “If the weather holds, we should be at 50 percent by midweek.”
As the coffee flows, area farmers are talking about harvests between 50 and 70 bushels an acre, something that hasn’t been seen around McKenzie County in a long time.
“We haven’t had a harvest similar to what this year is shaping up to be since about 1993,” adds Naze. “That was a year where we had cooler weather and good rains, just like we’ve seen this year.”
According to Ron Klang at Horizon Resources elevator in Watford City, things are still slow and they haven’t had much product come in yet, but if the weather holds, that should change soon.
Although rain amounts haven’t been consistent county-wide, the cool weather seems to have been a great asset to farmers throughout the county.
“This is the greatest harvest I’ve ever seen,” says one area farmer who’s completed his harvest. “The cool wet weather has been great for this growing season. I showed 10 inches of rain since I seeded. Unfortunately, that amount of rain wasn’t county-wide, but that is what I had in my rain gauge north of Watford City.”
After last year when many farmers had very little or nothing to harvest it is a relief to see lush fields. But with prices much lower than last year at this time, it is hard to say if area farmers will actually net more on this harvest than they did last year.
“I just heard that the price went down another seven percent,” says Don Schmidt, Watford City farmer. “Last year’s prices were incredible and we knew then that we would never see that again, but this is pathetic.”
As long as the weather allows farmers to continue harvesting, Naze doesn’t expect to see any problem with this year’s later than usual harvest.
“We’ll have to see what the weather does and how long harvest goes,” comments Naze. “Right now things are looking good. But the days are getting shorter and that means less time in the fields, and we never know what the weather will do, so if we get some rain and it pushes things back we could be looking at frost problems. But for now the forecast looks good, so I don’t think too many people are worried about that.”
One thing concerning some area farmers is where they’ll take their harvest if the Horizon Resources elevator in Watford City sticks to its plan of not putting anything on the ground.
“It’s a little early to say anything for sure because things are just getting started,” says Steve Wentz, Horizon Resources floor hand. “But, as of now we don’t plan to put anything on the ground. We have a lot of bin room and they’re all empty so we don’t expect this to be an issue. But it’s just too early to tell for sure.”
With low prices and production costs always on the minds of farmers, having to truck their product to a farther elevator could turn a once-in-a-lifetime harvest into a net loss for some farmer.