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Snow storm hampers late-season crops

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agriculture Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Scranton Equity grain manager Mike Wedwick said Thursday he was more concerned about a weekend forecast that could include precipitation and high winds than he was of last week's snowstorm that hit southwest North Dakota.

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Though the Scranton area received about 6 inches of snow in most places -- a far cry from the 2-3 feet received in areas near Hettinger -- from the Oct. 4 winter storm, Wedwick said he didn't think the snow would have a long-term effect on most late-season crops still in the ground, including corn and sunflowers.

"To the best of my knowledge, in the time I've been out in the country, I saw corn and sunflowers still standing," Wedwick said. "I'm actually more concerned about what could be coming, with the potential of a couple inches of moisture coming in (Thursday night) and Friday and strong winds. That could do more damage than the snow did. I'm sure what the farmers are concerned about is getting into the fields and we may have to wait until the ground freezes."

As far as the sunflower crop goes, Mandan-based National Sunflower Association executive director John Sandbakken said there are still some unknowns because of last week's storm and the government shutdown.

"Because of the shutdown, the USDA has been down, so I can't even say what state the crop is in over in the (Hettinger) area," Sandbakken said. "There just haven't been any reports. The (USDA) website is down, so you can't even access the numbers. We know there was damage done because of the storm, but we would just encourage everybody to harvest as much as they possibly can. Obviously, the ground is wet right now, so they're probably going to have to wait until the ground firms up."

Because of the spotty nature of the storm, Sandbakken said individual farmers are likely to have different situations from field to field in the southwest part of the state.

"You'd probably have to wait before you could really assess things because of the snow," Sandbakken said. "It's unfortunate. But, without the USDA reports, we're really in the dark. We hope everyone can maximize their crop. Everyone will deal with it in their own way that they can."

Leif Anderson, manager of United Grain Corporation's Hettinger facility, said the early part of the week was quiet, but things have been moving along steadily ever since.

Anderson said his facility is still dealing primarily with spring wheat and winter wheat.

"We've been steady in the past few days with producers that probably lie a little bit outside the moisture band," Anderson said. "I would say more of our local guys are tied up right now dealing with things after the storm. Harvest is basically done, so now you're dealing with people maybe trying to get some bin space cleaned out for corn or sunflowers.

"It depends on people's marketing strategy, too. I think sunflowers probably took it a little worse than corn around here. It's just hard to say the exact damage right now."

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