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Moisture in area appears adequate for crop growth

It’s been a mild and dry winter but Hank Bodmer isn’t a bit worried about moisture for his crops.

4/07/15 (Tue)

Idle for a bit longer . . . Farm machinery will sit idle for a little while longer as the Kenmare area received up to 14 inches of snow on Easter Sunday. Relief is in sight, however, as temperatures through the next seven days are projected to reach well into the 50s, and even into the 60s on Saturday.

By Marvin Baker

It’s been a mild and dry winter but Hank Bodmer isn’t a bit worried about moisture for his crops.

In fact, he may be a little concerned about too much moisture after the Kenmare area received 10 inches of snow on Easter Sunday translating into .45 of liquid precipitation added to .12 inches that fell as rain.

Bodmer, who farms east of Kenmare, said there is plenty of subsoil moisture to nourish the 2015 crop as it gets planted in the coming weeks.

The Easter precipitation just means that it will take longer to get into the field unless there is a stretch of days with plenty of sunshine to dry fields out.

According to Bodmer, the ground was wet last fall, so even though March was unusually dry with less than an inch of precipitation, there’s enough water to go around.

“We’re going to need three years of dry east of town to get back to normal,” Bodmer said. “I remember in September I could take a shovel of dirt and it would have water in it.”

Bodmer said flat areas should dry out nicely, so he doesn’t anticipate any issues getting into the field in a timely fashion.

However, some of his property has been swallowed up by excess moisture in recent years and those slough areas may not even get seeded.

For Bodmer, the bigger issue is in the market value of the commodities he grows. Prices have fallen considerably in the past year and are low enough that some producers may not break even this year.

Operating on a rotation of durum, barley and canola, Bodmer is concerned prices aren’t going to rebound in the near future.

Still, he remains cautiously optimistic.

“It looks bleak, but we’ve been through this before,” Bodmer said. “You’ve got to remember that in 20 years, there may be two or three years where you make money. Some of those years are break even and the rest you just try to survive.”

Roger Haaland farms in the Berthold area and despite just 2 inches of snow on Easter Sunday, he believes he will be getting into the field on schedule sometime between April 20 and April 25.

If another storm hits, however, that could be a game changer. Last year the area received wet and heavy widespread snow on May 4, stalling spring’s work in Ward County.

As it is now, Haaland couldn’t be sitting any better and has no concern about drought conditions, at least not yet.

“We have plenty of moisture,” he said. “The ground froze close to saturated, so we’ll have plenty to begin with anyway.”

Haaland, who has a five-crop rotation of barley, spring wheat, canola, soybeans and mustard, said he hasn’t hooked up his equipment just yet because he won’t start tilling until the ground reaches 50 degrees.

On Saturday, the bare ground in the Berthold area was barely 32 degrees.

Haaland is hoping his rotation will cover the gamut of weather that nature throws at us. The cereal grains will do well in dry or moist conditions, soybeans produce well in wet conditions, and canola and mustard favor cooler conditions.

“The barley will go in first,” Haaland said. “We grow barley under contract. It’s been a good crop and has turned into a specialty crop for maltsters. The mustard does well under cool, dry conditions. There isn’t much of it in North Dakota. There’s good demand for it and it works well into our rotation.”

Both Haaland and Bodmer have seen conditions like this before and are thinking well past this week and next with anticipation that it will still be an early spring.

“It looks like we’re going to get into the field earlier than the last couple of years,” Haaland said... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!