April 29, 2009

Spring seeding off to a slow start

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Timing, that’s what spring planting is all about.
Last year area farmers struggled through a season of drought with no end in sight. This spring, although moisture levels are down for the month of April, farmers are happy to see some moisture in the ground even though it meant getting into the fields a little later than normal.
”Spring seeding kicked off full bore last week,” says Dale Naze, North Dakota State University Extension agent. “Moisture is good for about 80 percent of the county with the western edge from Cartwright over really dry.”
According to Naze, planting began about two weeks later than normal, but he estimates that 5 to 10 percent of small grains have been planted, 20 to 25 percent of the peas are in and sugar beets are 25 to 30 percent planted.
“The moisture situation is really ironic,” says Naze. “We have fires in the west and standing water in the east. This spring in McKenzie County really is a state of extremes there is no middle ground.”
When it comes to farming, moisture and costs are always a concern, and while neither is as extreme as last year, area farmers remain concerned about both.
“The weather is always a concern during the growing season, but production costs are a big concern for producers again this year,” adds Naze. “Fertilizer and fuel costs have stabilized, but seed and repair costs are still very unstable.”
According to Naze, the Farm Bill is also a big concern for farmers this season.
“The Farm Bill was signed six months ago, but farmers are concerned because there are still a lot of unknowns,” comments Naze. “The problem is that Washington has yet to finalize anything, and there are still a lot of decisions to be made.”
With nothing final on the Farm Bill, Naze says area farmers are basing decisions on the last Farm Bill with hopes that they are making the right decisions for their own operations.
“Right now we are a little low on moisture for April,” adds Naze. “But the outlook is optimistic that this is going to be a good growing season for most of the county’s farmers.”