Crop prices are at an all-time high, but farmers are having trouble getting into their fields to put seeds into the ground.
According to the state, the percentage of all crops planted over the past two weeks is significantly less when compared to this same time period in previous years — and drastically so, judging by the statistics.
“We’ve been behind all year, obviously,” says Darin Jantzi, North Dakota State Statistician. “The wet weather has put us way behind, not just in one part of the state, it’s all over the state, and not just one crop, it’s all crops.”
Although our topsoil and subsoil moisture supplies have been observed to be mostly adequate or surplus, the crop planting average has dropped tremendously. Take sugarbeets, for example, only 23% were able to be planted this year, a far cry from the 100% last year and their 96% five-year average.
- Durum wheat planted was 17%, behind last year’s 75% and 69% five-year average.
- Spring Wheat planted was 27%, behind last year’s 93% and 80% five-year average.
- Corn planted was 20%, behind last year’s 81% and 66% five-year average.
- Canola planted was 13%, behind last year’s 56% and 59% five-year average.
- Barley planted was 26%, behind last year’s 91% and 79% five-year average.
- Dry, edible peas planted were behind last year’s 80% and 77% five-year average.
- Sunflowers planted were 3%, behind last year’s 27% and 21% five-year average.
- Flaxseed planted was 9%, behind last year’s 61% and 53% five-year average.
- Potatoes planted were 12%, behind last year’s 77% and 67%five-year average.
- Dry, edible beans planted were 5%, behind last year’s 42% and 35% five-year average.
And if the week of the 22nd’s losses weren’t bad enough, the statistics for the week before are even lower, with only 1.8 days where planting was estimated to be possible.
It would seem that when it comes to farming, when one problem ends, another begins: the heavy rains may have helped stop the drought, but they’ve also flooded the planting grounds.
Wet fields and planting are a bad combination: when muddy ground hardens, it prevents the seeds within from growing or gaining access to nutrients. Even worse, machinery that’s essential for field tilling can get stuck in the terrain, leading to not only delayed plowing but sometimes heavy repair and removal costs for the vehicle’s owner.
These planting problems couldn’t have come at a worse time, either: selling crops now would be a huge boost to North Dakota’s economy. Crop stocks are at an all-time high thanks to the shortages across the globs and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and farmers would stand to make plenty of profit for large supply deliveries. Wanting to at least have some progress towards this season’s haul, farmers are doing their best to have as many crops ready to harvest as possible, even in these conditions.
“Crop prices are high, world stocks and surpluses are down, and there’s the opportunity that even if you get it in later, you’re probably still going to do well,” explains Doug Goehring, North Dakota’s agriculture commissioner. “Economists have looked at this and said the market’s encouraging you, even if you get it in late and you’re going to get hurt on yield, to still plant- because it’s probably going to work anyways.”
This delay isn’t a major disaster yet, however, according to the Department of Agriculture, there’s still plenty of time to make up for this week before the planting season ends. Different crops are harvested and calculated at different times, after all, so farmers who may have missed out on one opportunity may have the ability to make a profit in another field.
“Farmers are just waiting,” said Goehring. “They’re wringing their hands, and they’re waiting to get out to the field, and the minute they have some better weather, they’re going to find those fields that are going to be able to support their ability, and get out and plant.”