DICKINSON - Agronomists and farmers alike agree that spring and early summer weather patterns have created favorable growing conditions thus far in southwest North Dakota.

“I haven’t seen many bad-looking crops this year,” said Southwest Grain Agronomy agronomist James Duletski. “It has been an above-average year so far.”

Shane Olson, a farmer near Killdeer who grows spring wheat and small grains, said his crops are “a few days ahead of schedule” due to favorable weather.

Earlier this week, he said all the crops were starting to head - a stage of plant growth that generally occurs around the 10th week.

He said while Killdeer has received a significant amount of rain and a small hail storm that dropped pellet-sized pieces, his crops have fared well through both.

Olson said that was, in part, due to planting and spraying crops early enough in the season.

Steve Brooks, the president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association who ranches and farms 4,300 acres of land in the Amidon and Bowman areas, also said his crops were all doing well. This year he planted winter and spring wheat, corn, lentils and chickpeas.

“We have an outstanding crop this year,” Brooks said. “It’s way ahead.”

He said his spring wheat headed out on June 21 and the corn crop will be well over knee-high by the Fourth of July.

“We are probably about two weeks ahead of normal,” he said.

That’s in large part due to warm spring conditions and significant rainfall, he said.

According to a North Dakota University Crop & Pest report published last week, Dickinson received around 1.6 inches of rain between June 17-23, with the majority of that falling on June 21.

“In general, conditions have been good, but there are pockets that have had too much rain and some areas that have not had enough,” said NDSU Extension Center Agronomist Ryan Buetow.

The Extension Center has received reports of powdery mildew in Adams County, stripe rust and wheat streak mosaic, which are all caused by wet, moderate temperatures.

Buetow said the area is also currently ranked at a “really high risk” for head scab - a wheat blight that can reduce the quality of the grain and cause a decline in crop yield.

Despite high risk conditions, the Extension Center hasn’t received any reports of the disease this year.

In an ideal situation, Buetow said the area would benefit from slightly warmer, dryer temperatures.

He said this would decrease the risk of disease, allow access to fields and provide conditions for farmers to take down hay.

It’s a hard balance to strike though and no season is perfect.

Olson said he is hoping for dry conditions with a rainstorm or two after the Fourth of July.

“Things are looking pretty good out there,” Olson said. “As long as we don’t get hit with some bad weather, we are looking at a good growing season.”

And while some farmers want certain conditions, Buetow said that model is not uniform.

North Dakota has such a wide variety of crops that like different conditions. As an example, canola plants like cool conditions while corn prefers warmer temperatures.

“It’s been a good season,” Buetow said. “But it does really depend on the field.”

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