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Spring Planting 2014


March 25, 2014

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Spring Planting
INSIDE: An overview of spring planting in Barnes County.
A supplement of the Valley City Times-Record
Energy Beets Page 12
Crop Trivia Page 8
Weather Forecast Page 11
Spring 2014; Farmers are Cautious
By Bonnie Jo Conley-Hanson If there’s one word that describes the attitudes of Barnes County farmers as they gear up for spring planting this year, it’s caution. According to Randy Grueneich, North Dakota State University Extension Agent for Barnes County, budgets are a lot tighter than they used to be and now they look pretty tight this year, especially if yields are lower than usual. “Budgets are a lot tighter than they used to be. We’ve had several years where we’ve had some pretty good margins to work with,” said Grueneich. Farmers are being extra careful in how they spend money this year, delaying major equipment purchases or shopping around more for the best deal. “It’s harder to sell the new combine, it’s harder to sell the product with the extra products in the package. Anything that can be managed well, they’re trying to do that,” Grueneich said adding that farmers will not likely cut back necessities for good yields
PAGE 2 • Thursday, March 27, 2014
such as fertilizers. This after a period of time where the margins were a little better and everyone was trying to farm more acres. Last year, yields were a bit lower than had been hoped for. Right now, farmers are worried about the cost and availability of fertilizers, and with the costs involved with railroad grain shipments. “Rail transportation is a huge headache for farmers right now. It takes money out of their pockets every time they sell grain because they’re not getting paid as much because of the increased cost of rail costs,” said Grueneich who explained that elevators may charge a higher handling fee to pass some of the increase in shipping costs on to farmers thus reducing the basis, the difference between how much the elevator pays for the grain and the amount an elevator receives for the grain. In addition, some of the fertilizer local farmers use comes in on rail raising concern that pre-purchased fertilizer may not be delivered on time. In response to cries from the farming community, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Line has promised to look into the rail car issues and predicts FARMERS Page 5
Thursday, March 27, 2014 • PAGE 3
Page 4 • Thursday, March 27, 2014
Off to a Great Start
Soybeans in this field are off to a good start in spite of a late spring in 2013. This year, farmers are looking at cool but dry spring for planting.
Bonnie Jo Conley-Hanson/Times-Record
FARMERS: Minding Money
From 2 normal service could be restored by June. On the positive side, there isn’t a lot of snow left to melt, which means farmers could have a normal start time to planting. Typically, according to Grueneich, the third week in April is when farmers can begin planting, and long-term weather forecasts indicate this spring will be cool, but dry enough to meet that target or just a little behind normal. The biggest advantage to having an early spring would be for the wheat crop. Getting wheat in early would mean it would be headed before the heat of late summer resulting in bigger yields. Planting corn early would have advantages too, according to Grueneich. “If we can get corn planted, get it up and get it started early, we have a better chance of getting it to full maturity in the fall and having a heavy test weight, high-quality product in the fall that dries down the field then we don’t have to spend so much on propane to dry it.” A propane shortage in the upper Midwest caused propane prices to spike in early 2014, but Grueneich doesn’t anticipate more of the same for 2014. “We could anticipate that by fall, we could be-
Thursday, March 27, 2014 • PAGE 5
gin seeing normal prices for propane,” he said. The concern is supply, with a feeder pipeline into Carrington no longer in use. Great Plains Ag in Hannaford is installing a rail facility to bring propane in by rail and suppliers have been talking to farmer about utilizing very large storage “bullets” on site instead of having propane for crop drying delivered every day or two. “Some of the bigger grain driers, when they’re going at fullbore, burn more than 50 gallons an hour,” said Grueneich. “They take a huge Bonnie Jo Conley-Hanson/Times-Record amount of propane.” Corn acreage continues to grow in Barnes County with wheat acres The one hardship shrinking and soybean acreage in the number one spot. FARMERS Page 6
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FARMERS: Beans Remain I BC’s Biggest Crop by Acres
From 5 Grueneich has heard about repeatedly from farmers is the lack of hired help given ample employment opportunities throughout North Dakota. Locally, farmers are having a hard time finding employees. “I’ve heard it more this winter, I think, than I have before,” he said. Some farmers are even looking at finding help from overseas to bring to North Dakota. “We’re talking about working on thousands and thousands of dollars worth of equipment and covering lots of acres,” Grueneich said. “I don’t know that anyone has been successful at finding solutions.” Soybeans still remain the area’s number one crop by far, aceragewise, with corn growing and wheat decreasing in terms of acres. Of those three crops, corn is the most expensive to grow, wheat is in the middle and soybeans are the cheapest. “Of those three crops, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with corn acres in the county this year,” said Grueneich. Of the three crops, the most promising will be soybeans, he estimated. When looking at total acreage, what has the most impact is how wet the spring is. So, a wet spring takes acres from all three of these crops. But without a huge snow cover, Grueneich hopes farmers will be able to plant more acreage that would otherwise go unplanted. Soil moisture shouldn’t be an issue for early plant growth. With cool weather and small plants, drought shouldn’t be a concern until midto late-summer. “We can go a long time, we need a few rains, we don’t need heavy rains, and we do have some stored soil moisture,” Grueneich said. Last fall, though dry in the beginning, the area did receive some rains that were easily absorbed into the soil and didn’t run off. “We’ve got some moisture to go on,” Grueneich said. The long-range forecast calls for a cooler than normal spring with normal temps the rest of the summer. Early summer may be drier than normal, but normal moisture is expected later in the summer.
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Thursday, March 27, 2014 • Page 7
Corn planting should be on time or just a little late this year with a cool, dry spring predicted.
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Did You Know? Fun Trivia on Area’s Biggest Crops
• Soybeans oil accounts for about 80 percent of all the vegetable oils and animal fats consumed in the U.S. each year. • Besides being grown for human or animal consumption, soybeans are used as fuel, candles, crayons, water-based paints, and printing inks. • One acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 cray-
PAGE 8 •Thursday, March 27, 2014
Soybeans • The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of soybeans with more than 1.5 million bushels per year. • Soybeans are planted on about 60 million acres of land in the U.S. and accounts for over 30 percent of the worlds soybeans.
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TRIVIA: Did You Know?
From 8 kernels • Each year a single U.S. farmer produces food and fiber for 129 people; 97 in the U.S. and 32 overseas. • In ancient times, corn cobs were the size of a thumb. • Your bacon and egg breakfast, glass of milk at lunch, or hamburger for supper were all produced with corn. • Corn is also a major component in many foods like cereals, peanut butter, snack foods and soft drinks. • A by-product of separating corn, corn steep liquor, is used to produce penicillin. • Corn is used to make industrial glues stronger. Wheat • Wheat originated in the “cradle of civilization” in the Tigris and
Thursday, March 27, 2014 • PAGE 9
Euphrates river valley, near what is now Iraq. •Wheat was first planted in the United States in 1777 as a hobby crop. •Wheat is the primary grain used in U.S. grain products — approximately three-quarters of all U.S. grain products are made from wheat flour. • In 2008/2009, U.S. farmers grew nearly 2.4 billion bushels of wheat on 63 million acres of land. • About half of the wheat grown in the United
TRIVIA Page 10
These ears of corn will produce about 1,600 kernels when mature.
Bonnie Jo Conley-Hanson/Times-Record
Page 10 • Thursday, March 27, 2014
TRIVIA: BC Wheat Produces a Lot of Pasta
From 9 States is used domestically. • In 2008, the state of Kansas was the largest wheat producer in the United States with North Dakota a close second. • One bushel of wheat contains approximately one million individual kernels. • One bushel of wheat weighs approximately 60 pounds. • One bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour OR 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour. • A bushel of wheat yields 42 oneand-a-half pound commercial loaves of white bread OR about 90 onepound loaves of whole wheat bread. • The first bagel rolled into the world in 1683 when a baker from Vienna Austria was thankful to the King of Poland for saving Austria from Turk-
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ish invaders. The baker reshaped the local bread so that it resembled the King’s stirrup. The new bread was called “beugel,” derived from the German word stirrup, “bugel.” • The traditional bagel is the only bread product that is boiled before it is baked. • Per capita consumption of pasta in the United States was 22 pounds in 1996 and in 2005 was at 19.52 pounds. • A bushel of wheat makes about 42 pounds of pasta or 210 servings of spaghetti. • If you eat pasta three times a week, it would take 70 weeks to eat all the pasta made from one bushel of durum. • Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the United States each year.
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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Special to the Times-Record According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Spring Outlook released in midMarch, rivers in half of the continental United States are at minor or moderate risk of exceeding flood levels this spring with the highest threat in the southern Great Lakes region due to aboveaverage snowpack and a deep layer of frozen ground. Additionally, drought is expected to continue in California and the Southwest. The continuation of winter weather, aboveaverage snowpack, frozen ground and thick ice coverage on streams and rivers will delay spring flooding into April in the upper Midwest eastward to New England. The intensity of the flooding will depend on the rate of snow and ice melt, and future rainfall. National Weather Service hydrologists predict moderate flooding in parts of southern Wisconsin, southern Michigan and portions of Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa as a result of the current snowpack and the deep layer of froBEETS Page 11
Cool, Dry Spring Weather on Tap
zen ground coupled with expected seasonal temperatures and rainfall. At risk are the Mississippi River and the Illinois River as well as many smaller rivers in these regions. Small streams and rivers in the lower Missouri basin in Missouri and eastern Kansas have already experienced minor flooding this year and the threat of moderate flooding will persist through the spring. There is a risk of moderate flooding along the Red River of the North between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, and along the Souris River below Minot, N.D. River ice, snowpack and significant frozen ground are factors in the flood risk for this area. Additionally, there is a risk of moderate flooding for western South Dakota because of current saturated soils. Below-normal temperatures this spring are favored for an area from Montana eastward across the northern Plains to the Great Lakes region, while warmer-than-normal temperatures are most likely for western sections of Washington and Oregon, California, the desert Southwest, the southern Plains, the Southeast and all of Alaska.
Thursday, March 27, 2014 • Page 11
The area’s wheat crop did well in 2013 with cool temps in spring and early summer.
Bonnie Jo Conley-Hanson/Times-Record
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Page 12 • Thursday, March 27, 2014
Energy Beets: A New Cash Crop?B
By Paul Riemerman Last summer Barnes County-area farmers attended a plot tour near Litchville, to learn about raising energy beets as a crop. The Litchville tour was one of four plot tours in the region The new industrial crop may help farmers improve their soil health and increase their farm income. Energy beets are sugar beets bred for the biofuel market and used to create ethanol and high-value chemicals, said Maynard Helgaas, President of Green Vision Group, Monday. The energy beet project Special to the Times-Record is a partnership between Energy beets did well in a variety of situations in Barnes County Green Vision Group and test plots. Heartland Renewable 2014_03_4044 Energy with research by NDSU. Test plots were spon1124 Main Ave W, West Fargo, ND sored by Betaseed and Syngenta-Hilleshog. 701-281-9418 • Additional funding was provided by the North Dakota Renewable Energy Council, the Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission and many communities and private companies. Everyone is welcome to attend, including growers and members of the community. Helgaas said the Litchville tour took place at
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BEETS Page 13
BEETS: Plants Would Create Jobs
From 12 Dennis Nelson Farms. The demonstration and yield plots are among the 14 energy beet test plots (5 irrigated and 9 dryland) in 11 locations across North Dakota this year. Research is showing that energy beets can be grown with great success in different soil types and conditions, outside of the traditional production areas of the Red River Valley. Helgaas said energy beets are genetically modified from normal sugar beets. “It (the modified beet) wouldn’t work for food, because it doesn’t leave nice, white crystals.” Helgaas said the purposes of the tours are to demonstrate that “energy sugar beets can be grown outside of the Red River Valley and, demonstrate farming practices for the crop.” Helgaas said producers now have three years data on yields, a requirement before crop insurance can be purchased to guard against disaster years. Helgaas said energy beets are not for producing cellulosic ethanol, but are more like corn for producing ethanol. However, he said, “It produces about twice the energy as corn per acre,” Helgaas said.
Barnes County Extension Agent Randy Grueneich has attended programs on energy beets, and Helgaas expects him to attend the plot tour. Grueneich said he does plan to attend, and pass on his knowledge of the crop to those attending. “I am trying to stay abreast of this, and it appears to have some real benefits” as a farm crop, Grueneich said. Energy beets present a good opportunity for growers, said Blaine Schatz, Director of the Carrington Research Extension Center, NDSU. “Farmers who raise energy beets may see greater soil health because the tap root penetrates as deep as six feet, using nutrients, nitrogen and water that other crops don’t reach. Energy beets also improve internal soil drainage and are relatively tolerant to drought and alkaline soils,” Schatz said. “Also, growers who add energy beets into a four-year rotation could expect a profitable income.” The group is in its final research phase and plans to move to commercialization in 2014. The first facility would be followed by a series of up to 16 commercialscale plants across the state, said Helgaas. “Energy beets will benefit rural North Dakota communities, too, because each of the processing facilities we are envisioning will create many quality jobs and support local production,” Helgaas said. “Each plant is expected to create 23 jobs and require about 30,000 acres of energy beets for feedstock.”
Thursday, March 27, 2014 • Page 13
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Page 14 • Thursday, March 27, 2014
Off and Running
Area farmers are preparing to begin spring fieldwork. Here, a tractor prepares a field near Valley City for planting last spring.
Bonnie Jo Conley-Hanson/Times-Record
Thursday, March 27, 2014 • Page 15
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