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Rains have farmers butting up against planting deadlines

Posted 5/27/14 (Tue)

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

The fact that area producers are still seeding their fields this close to June usually has many of them in panic mode. But according to Kyle Hartel, district conservationist for the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), that just does not seem to be the case so far.
“I think, considering the rain the area has gotten, people feel that spring seeding is pretty on pace,” states Hartel. “No one is frantic and nervous right now and the forecast for the week ahead looks fairly dry.”
Mike Jenks of Taylor Ag agrees, stating that producers got a late start this year and there have been a few rain delays. But there has been a lot of good progress in the last 10 days.
This year it was not heavy moisture that brought on a later-than-normal start to spring seeding, it was the fact that the ground stayed frozen for so long.
Hartel states that the minimum optimal ground temperature for cool season grasses, which are barley, wheat and oats, to germinate is 40 degrees.
“As of April 23, ground temperatures in McKenzie County reached  47 degrees,” states Hartel.
Since that point, the area has seen some spotty storms and a good amount of moisture.
“But with the wind, even when it does rain we have been able to get right back into the fields,” states Hartel. “Therefore, planting seems to be on pace.”
Also, according to Hartel, this seems to be the case for the area’s big producers as well as those who both farm and ranch.
“Most of the county producers both farm and ranch. For them cattle is their priority so they do not complain about rain slowing them down too much,” states Hartel. “But the bigger producers in the area have 5,000 to 10,000 acres to put in and rain can really slow them down.”
Dennis Anderson, Farmers Union Insurance agent in Watford City, states that one of the biggest concerns for panic among the area’s producers is getting their crop seeded in a timely manner.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) determines the dates in which crops can be seeded,” states Anderson. “And they determine a final planting date for each crop.”
Just because a producer has reached the final planting date for a crop does not necessarily mean they cannot still plant the crop; it means they could have a penalty for doing so.
“Each producer is guaranteed so much through their crop insurance,” states Anderson. “If they plant past the final planting date for a particular crop, they will not get the full guarantee for that crop, and could lose a percentage of their guarantee for each day past the final planting date.”
But this has not been the case this year. Even though Anderson states that the final planting date for some crops has passed and the planting date for wheat and other crops is June 5, just around the corner, Hartel states that he has not caught wind of any panic or franticness amongst those who are seeding.
“It is May 23, and June 5 is the insurance deadline date,” states Jenks. “There’s always a little bit of panic. But a better way to describe it this year is pressure and a feeling of persistence. They all want to get their stuff done, but there is no panic yet.”
“Sometimes farmers will bail on a crop and go to another one if they think they will not have enough time to get it in before it is too late,” states Hartel. “But I have not heard of anything like that happening in the county, so far.”
All-in-all, Hartel and Jenks state that this year’s spring seeding season has provided producers much better seeding conditions than last year, and the forecast seems to be calling for more good conditions heading into June.