Snow in North Dakota Stalls Harvest and Crop Conditions

The snowstorm rolling through North Dakota will put a halt to harvesting efforts, and there is concern regarding the quality of the crops still in the field. With the late-season plantings, the maturity has been behind last year across the board, according to the crop progress report released on October 7th.

The biggest concern, according to Greg Endres, Area Specialist at NDSU Extension in Carrington, is the dry beans. The latest progress report shows that only 41 percent harvested, well below the average of 82 percent. Endres estimates that north of highway 2, there is half yield loss due to the later maturity or make food grade.

“Dry beans have a plant structure that heavy snow is going to mash the plants down,” said Endres. “The pods on dry beans are susceptible to opening up. Seed shatter is much greater with dry beans and soybeans.”

In addition to the snow, there is also concern that the anticipated winds will contribute to lodging, particularly with sunflowers. With the delayed harvest, Endres also expressed concern about seed loss due to the birds and shatter. The progress report shows that bracts were 53 percent brown, well behind 89 last year and 78 average.

“So I rate the crops on susceptibility to the weather conditions, corn will be the best,” said Endres. “I’m most concerned about the strong winds they are talking about and having some plant lodging.”

Endres’s advice is to prioritize corn and get those hybrids that have less stalk strength off the field first. Seed shatter on soybeans will be at a minimum unless there is lodging, and harvest can wait until after the snow melts.

The bright spots that Endres points out are the fact that soybeans could be harvested in the spring, and we had a late frost.

“There is likely to be a lot of harvest taking place next spring. It’s very doable with corn,” said Endres. “This past spring, at least in this area [Carrington], there were guys who were very pleased with their soybean harvest in the spring. There were some pretty nice yields, and the soybean seed moisture was good, the quality was okay.”