Jonathan Knutson / Forum News Service
GRAND FORKS — Stacey Jones and Michael O'Donnell believe strongly in sustainable agriculture and are committed to learning more about it. Their first visit to North Dakota helped them do that. "This is a great opportunity. There's a lot to see and learn," Jones said. Jones is area specialist agent for greenhouse and nursery crops with the North Carolina State Extension. O'Donnell is Extension educator for organic and diversified agriculture with the Purdue Extension in Indiana.
Fall rains can be both a joy and a frustration for Upper Midwest farmers — the former if soil moisture needs recharging, the latter if crops still need to be harvested. Though recent rains in parts of the region have improved the 2018 crop outlook, they've also slowed the overall harvest pace. The weekly crop progress report released Monday, Sept. 25, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shows that the region's corn, soybean and sugar beet harvests lag their respective five-year averages.
GRAND FORKS — Justin Mead has spent all of August and much of September in Grand Forks County, the longest he's ever been away from his western North Dakota ranch. But now he's heading home, well-satisfied with his long sojourn. "For me, being a 33-year-old guy, it's something I really enjoyed and benefited from," said the Grassy Butte, N.D. rancher on Sept. 19, a few days before he expected to make the 370-mile trip home.
CARRINGTON, N.D. — North Dakota's soil, crops and climate vary greatly from south to north and east to west. But Carrington, roughly in the middle of the state, is somewhat representative of North Dakota overall. Because of its central location, North Dakota State University's Carrington Research Extension Center is engaged in a number of projects holding widespread interest and appeal. We visited the Carrington center on a rainy summer day to learn more about four of them. Keepin' it real with UAVs
BEACH, N.D. — This wasn't a good growing season for farmers in the Beach area. But farmers and ranchers here know many of their drought-stricken neighbors are far worse off. "It's definitely been a challenging year for us," said Levi Hall, general manager of the Beach Cooperative Grain Co. Even so, "All summer long, Beach has been the greenest spot I've seen as I've driven around southwest North Dakota. It's not something to brag about, because we were definitely dry, but you don't need to go far from here to see some of the worst spots in the state."
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — Pesticides are an important and controversial part of U.S. agriculture. Now, a North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota extension official is spearheading an effort to establish a pesticide application testing laboratory on the NDSU campus in Fargo. "Why not us?" said Tom Peters, NDSU and U of M extension sugar beet specialist, pointing to the growing need for pesticide application testing and the very small number of labs that offer it.
HOLDREGE, Neb. — The three dozen agriculturalists peered through the bus windows to get their first good look at what they'd come from North Dakota to see: A field infested with Palmer amaranth, the weeds — replete with seeds — towering triumphantly over the outmatched soybean plants beneath them.
INKSTER, N.D. — Red River Valley potato growers generally have avoided drought and deluge this growing season. That bodes well for the soon-to-begin 2017 harvest. "The crop is looking really good in Minnesota, and it looks very good in North Dakota. We're optimistic," said Chuck Gunnerson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association.
HOFFMAN, Minn. — Many farmers say their career is what they always wanted, what they always planned on. Not Andrew Barsness. But the happenstance organic farmer from Hoffman is making the most of his unexpected profession, in part by advocating for other beginning farmers. "Farming once seemed so foreign to me. Now I can't imagine doing anything else," he said. "Beginning farmers like me have some things we have to deal with, though."
The caller said he'd enjoyed my column on rental rate negotiations between farmers and landlords. He also had a question for me. "What happened to crop shares?" he asked, adding that they seem fair and reasonable to him. "Good question. It's one I've asked many times, too," I said, adding that I like them, too.