Heavy spring rains have wrecked havoc on planting plans north of Minot again this year, and Prevent Plant acres will be high in these areas.
In our Eye on Agriculture today, Perry Olson takes us to western Bottineau County where one producer says he should end up getting only about 50 percent of his 63-hundred acres planted...
It means Prevent Plant claims for a 4th year in the last five...and land that is changing for the worse.
(Norm Buynak - Bottineau County Farmer) "All these cat tail sloughs you see...normal years you could farm right through them...this is probably the new normal..."
It's been another frustrating year for Norm Buynak on his land southwest of Antler. Heavy spring rainfall on top of already saturated land has led to another year of Prevent Plant acreage...disappointment.
(Norm Buynak - Bottineau County Farmer) "The potential out here that we have to raise a crop and just haven't been able to do it for the last numerous years and it seems like the cycle is not ending. Who knows how long it is going to last -- 10, 15, 5 years?"
(Norm Buynak - Bottineau County Farmer) "It has been wet since '99 it started and it has just gotten gradually worse." (Perry Olson - KX News) "This wet cycle we've been in for more than a decade now has changed how Norm operates his farm and how they work the land...but even that isn't helping anymore. It is time for mother nature to do her part." (Norm Buynak - Bottineau County Farmer) "Went out of that to basically no til and we are back to working the ground to dry it out so we can get into it, but that is like a bandaid on a gunshot wound, it isn't working. It helps a bit but it isn't a cure all. The weather has to do the heavy lifting and get us dried out again."
To get the full picture -- you need to get a bird's eye view, my thanks to Kyle Nelson for these photos of the area here -- you can see it's full of new sloughs...Buynak says the area from near Sherwood...to south of Antler...and east to near Westhope seems to be in the worst shape...meaning another year of Prevent Plant.
(Norm Buynak - Bottineau County Farmer) "It is obviously not like raising a crop...no way. It helps keep us going but it is nowhere near what a real crop will generate for revenue."
And even the crop that does get in...is done so at a slower pace. Finding firm enough ground the travel is a mystery...
(Norm Buynak - Bottineau County Farmer) "It is very nerve-wracking trying to get it in because you are wondering when you are going to get stuck and how bad and how long to get out...and hopefully nobody gets hurt in the process."
He calls it white-knuckle driving knowing where to go -- and with sights like this from above...that's easy to understand -- frustration abounds here...and will until this wet cycle releases its hold on the region. Near Antler, Perry Olson, KX News.
Buynak says even when the sloughs do dry up, it will leave land with very high salt content -- and that means very slow production for many years until the salt can work its way out of the ground.