GLASSTON, N.D. — Spade in hand and wearing knee-high rubber boots, Dale Ratchenski dug a trench Tuesday, June 9, from the water pond in his wheat field to the adjacent ditch
From 3 to 5 inches of rain fell from Saturday night to Tuesday morning in eastern Pembina County, resulting in ponding and drown-acres on the 5,000 acres of sugar beets, wheat, soybeans and edible beans Ratchenski farms with his son and two brothers.
Hundreds of acres of cropland under water also was a common sight on Tuesday in parts of other northeastern North Dakota counties, including Grand Forks and Walsh. Some of the wet acres were, like the Ratchenskis’ fields, the result of heavy rains.
Rainfall in other areas, such as in western Grand Forks County, generally was lighter, but because the ground was saturated, there also was ponding and drowned-out on acres that were planted. Some fields in western Grand Forks County won't get planted this year because they're still wet, and time is running out to get the crop in the ground so it will be mature in time for the harvest.
The Ratchenskis were able to get all of their crops planted before rains fell for four straight days, said Luke Ratchenski, Dale's son. Now the concern is whether the crops that are under water will survive being submerged until the water subsides. That’s why the Ratchenskis spent Tuesday hand-digging trenches and using their four-wheeler to make furrows for the water to flow out of their fields and into ditches.
Though the Ratchenskis would have liked a drier day to drain the water — drizzle fell as they worked — they were glad that it was unseasonably cool.
“It’s good for it to be cool if things are under water,” said Luke Ratchenski, adding that plants submerged in water during warm temperatures die more quickly.
Meanwhile, wheat fields, such as the one his father was working to drain on Tuesday, have a better chance of recovering from being flooded than edible beans, Ratchenski said.
Heavy June rains have been common in Pembina County during the past several years, he said. The exception was last year, when it was dry most of the summer, then turned wet in October.
“Last year was a goofy year. We got our yearly rainfall in one month,” Luke Ratchenski said.
Across the Red River in Minnesota, some farm fields looked like lakes. Nearly 4.5 inches of rain fell in Hallock, the National Weather Service reported. Meanwhile, the Two Rivers in Hallock was spilling over its banks Tuesday.
Further south, the topsoil in Marshall County actually was dry until this past weekend, and the first round of rain that fell over the past weekend was welcomed, said Bill Craig, Marshall County Extension agricultural services director.
“They were needing rain, so a lot of it soaked in,” he said.
However, the second round of rain caused ponding in fields.
“We’re going to lose some crop from that,” Craig said.
He, like the Ratchenskis, hopes that the recent rains aren't the beginning of another wet cycle.
“Last year, we were dry, and it got wet and stayed wet,” he said.
A streak of dry weather this spring allowed Marshall County farmers to get some fields planted, but other fields still are too wet.
“There will be prevented planting where they had corn standing and where there are corn stalks so they couldn’t work the field,” Craig said.