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Drought concerns dominate field day

South Dakota producer J.P. Heber provides insights into cover crops and biological strip-till farming. (Submitted Photo by James Odermann) 1 / 2
Bob Weigelt of DuPont shares information about sprayer clean-out at the 2017 Dickinson Research Extension Center Field Day. (Submitted Photo by James Odermann) 2 / 2

Agricultural producers were given an update on technology, equipment and management practices, but the major concern over drought was prevalent in all of the presentations at the Dickinson Research Extension Center Summer Field Day on Wednesday, July 12.

“We had some great speakers come to town who covered a wide range of topics,” said field day coordinator Ryan Buetow. “It is hard to be prepared for the drought situation, but we wanted to make sure the producers are prepared for what is coming down the road.”

South Dakota producer JP Heber from Zell provided a presentation on cover crops and using biological strip till. He referenced the drought in his presentation.

“They (South Dakota producers) are going through the same issues we are here,” Buetow said.

Heber detailed his cover crop mix of radishes and peas. He uses radishes to naturally aerate the soil and increase organic matter and soil infiltration from water.

John Nowatzki, agricultural machinery specialist at North Dakota State University, provided updates on the use of drones to assist producers in evaluating crops, diseases and weeds.

Drones commonly used can fly about one section of land an hour. The drone can be used in field scouting and animal inventory.

“We have graduate students actually doing research on a lot of different areas and one of them is on the different diseases in wheat, sugar beets and soybeans,” he said. “One in particular areas we are focusing on this year is iron deficiency chlorosis in soybeans, which is a very serious problem across North Dakota this year. We are able to pick up that disease faster with imagery than we can by walking out into the field, and I think get an indication of how serious it is better than we can with the human eye.”

Dr. Frayne Olson, crop economist and marketing specialist at NDSU, provided producers with the updated U.S. Department of Agriculture crop report.

“We got some new information out yesterday (July 12) from USDA, not only total production but also our carryover stocks for all the major grains: corn, soybeans, wheat,” he said. “The corn and soybean numbers came in a little bit larger than expected, which put negative price pressure on corn and soybeans but the spring wheat and durum came in relatively positive. It looks like the spring wheat crop is going to be much smaller than expected, and of course the durum crop as well.”

He said weather will play a big factor in the prices as the crop matures.

“One of the things that the market is watching very closely is the potential for a high pressure ridge to start building over Nebraska, western Iowa, parts of South Dakota, into Minnesota and again causing some problems in reducing yield potential for both corn and soybeans.

“If that happens, of course, the increase in corn prices will help support wheat prices as we move forward. The other thing that the market is watching very closely is the Canadian weather situation. As we get into southeastern Saskatchewan running diagonally into northwestern Alberta there gets to be some dry conditions showing up. That’s a major durum as well as spring wheat and canola producing region. We’re in a weather market, not only in the U.S. but also in Canada,” he concluded.

The current drought was a major discussion point throughout the presentations. Extension leaders from across the state urged producers to communicate with local county extension agents, research centers and NDSU officials to work through issues created by the drought.

Southwest district NDSU Extension director Jim Gray noted concerns with decreased yields for cereal crops and hay, water quality for livestock and potentially toxic levels of nitrates in grain harvested for hay.

Individuals wanting more information about the DREC or research conducted at the Center can contact 701-456-1100.

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