Editor’s note: In April-May we are publishing a four-part series on agriculture and the lifecycle of crops. Each Tuesday edition of Daily News and News Monitor will feature a different part of the growing and harvesting process.
April 27: Part 1 Looks at the seed and planting process at the start of the growing season.
May 4: In Part 2 we feature the growing stage of crops grown in our area.
May 11: Part 3 focuses on harvesting crops and the movement from field to elevator.
May 18: Part 4 takes a look at where the crops grown here end up.
Planting season will soon be underway in North Dakota and there are plenty of crops to be grown this summer. A few days of warm weather this spring provided a tease for farmers. According to the USDA’s weekly crop report, there were just 2.7 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending April 18. On average, producers began fieldwork on April 16.
Now that the April showers have officially kicked in, this will be a unique year of growing as some seeds are already in the ground.
During a normal growing season, the soil should be at 50 degrees, according to Brian Zimprich, North Dakota State University Extension Agent for Ransom County.
“When the soil temperature drops back down to 40 degrees, the seed just sits there and doesn’t do anything,” he said.
Zimprich said the seeds don’t reproduce because of the weather, they don’t grow and that causes the farmers to go out into the fields and start over again, which can add a lot of time and expense.
During a normal growing year, seed starts to go into the ground toward the end of April and beginning of May once the weather allows. For the plants to develop, small crops and grains would take five to seven days, while it would take seven to 10 days for other crops to start to grow.
Melissa Seykora, extension agent for North Dakota State University Extension Sargent County, mentioned that this is more of a process than just when to grow the plants.
“Sometimes, they would have a year or two out from what the crop rotation would be, whether it’s soybeans, corn or wheat,” Seykora said about the farmers.
She said they would do a growing sample in a field where they could see what the crop was capable of doing from that particular seed, such as what the nutrient level is and which fertilizer would work for the plant. This would give the farmers time to measure out how much nutrients would be needed when they would grow this crop in the spring.
“We had a really good fall because it was dry and not covered in snow,” Seykora said.
The two main crops that are grown in Sargent and Ransom counties are corn and soybeans. Corn typically grows later into the season compared to some of the smaller crops. Usually, they would be emerging starting May 15, after some of the smaller plants start growing. Soybeans would start to grow just about a month after that, right around June 15.
The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that most of North Dakota is still experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions.