Medina – It may be mid-March, but corn across the state has been ready for harvest for months now, and with the upcoming planting season just a few weeks away, farmers are now in a race against time to get old crops out and new crops in.
“Since I’ve been home farming, it’s been the most challenging year that I can remember,” said Medina Farmer Ritchie Heinrich.
March is National Agriculture Month, but for many farmers in North Dakota, they’ve got no time to celebrate.
Every second is critical to finish up last year’s harvest which seems to be delayed on a daily basis.
Whether corn is knee deep in snow, or soybeans are seemingly frozen in time, the harvest has certainly had its challenges.
And for those who can’t get their harvest done in time, the ripple effects could be severe.
“They may be short on revenue because that harvest isn’t done, and that means having to work out the particulars with their lending institution, and that’s where we’ve heard more consternation,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.
The Agriculture Department says around a million acres of corn are still out in the cold waiting on a harvester that may never come because the snow is still too deep or the ground is simply too muddy.
“You’re driving across the snow, it looks like the ground is frozen and all the sudden you sink in and your driving through water and you’re driving through mud, been stuck with the grain cart so we’ve not been able to fill that as full, we’ve actually rented a second grain cart just to help mitigate the efficiencies that were giving up with one-grain cart,” said Heinrich.
Heinrich says he’s still got 400 acres of corn to harvest in Medina, and says at this time of the year, all of his attention should be toward his newborn calves and not the fields.
“They get checked right away in the morning, we make sure we do all our chores, make sure the calves are up and doing well, so that can take until noon or two, every day is a little different, after we feel we have the cattle situated, we hop in the combine and combine at least for a few hours before we come back to the cattle.”
And it’s that workload that Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says is just too much for today’s farmer/rancher.
“Now you have people that are still harvesting, and getting ready to plant, and dropping calves at the same time. Pretty soon you’re just overloaded with work, you’re down to very little sleep and you’re still trying to manage cows, do harvest and get the equipment ready to go in the field,” said Goehring.
Both men tell KX News the state could use an entire month without any moisture allowing the ground to firm up enough to finish the harvest and start over.