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In 1976, an excellent year for small grain production on stubble land in southwestern North Dakota, yields on conventional summerfallow were 43 bushels per acre, on second cropping 27 bushels per acre and in continuous cropping 22 bushels per acre. In 1977, a year when hot, dry spring weather conditions were not particularly favorable to the germination and early growth of the crop, yields were appreciably reduced, even though rainfall in late May and June provided ample soil water for satisfactory crop growth. Yields on fallow were 26.9 bushels per acre, on second cropping 11.5 and on continuous cropping 5.5 bushels per acre. Relative differences between production methods were remarkably similar for both years.

In 1978, wheat on summerfallow averaged 38.5 bushels per acre in this trial compared with 31.4 on second cropping and 30.6 on continuous cropping. High yields on stubble land were a result of the excellent soil water recharge provided by the well above average precipitation coming in the fall of 1977 plus adequate seasonal moisture and cool growing season temperatures.

In 1978, fall precipitation was only 4.58 inches compared to more than 10 inches in 1977. In addition, a late spring planting date and a very dry period extending from April 20 to June 18 was unfavorable for good, uniform germination and early crop growth. The effectiveness of stored soil water in fallow under stressed conditions is readily evident in the harvested yields.

In 1980, severe drought conditions prevailed through the third week in June. Grain production was reduced on summerfallow and was zero on recrop and continuous cropping treatments.

In 1981 early seeded small grain crops were severely frosted by a severe freeze on May 9th, but seemed to recover very well. The most severe weather affecting crop production occurred the first ten days in July when temperatures of 93oF and above were recorded on 7 days, with a maximum reading of 110oF. Evaporation measured 3.93 inches during this ten day period.

Precipitation during the last four months of 1981 was above average, providing a good soil water recharge. Snowfall was above average throughout the winter months, providing nearly three inches of precipitation from January through March. Above average rainfall through the growing season was well distributed.

The growing season of 1982 is best characterized as cool, wet and late.

Rainfall in September and October, 1982 was wall above average, providing an excellent soil water recharge. Total fall precipitation for September through December, 1982 was 9.4 inches compared to the 90 year average of 3.16 inches. Precipitation of 4.9 inches during April through June was below average, but for the rest of the year nearly normal. The combination of stored rainfall in September and October, 1982 and nearly normal seasonal precipitation provided ample water for good crop growth.

Mean temperatures for April, May and June in 1983 were well below the 71 year average. Hot spells of several days in July and August when temperatures exceeded 90oF affected late seeded grain but early seeded crops escaped serious damage from high temperatures.

The fall of 1983 was drier than average with less than two and one-half inches of precipitation in the four month period September through December. Precipitation from January through March 1984 was also below average, and the dry period extended well into April, with the largest amount of precipitation during the month coming in the form of a thirty inch snowfall on the 27th. May was the driest in 93 years of record. Excellent distribution of five inches of rain in June was followed by a very dry July.

In 1985, the fall and winter precipitation was 1.12 inches below average. April precipitation was considerably lower than average. May rainfall of 4.31 inches was most effective for crop growth. June rains were less than average but well distributed. Cool temperatures in June, which included a freeze on the 12th, promoted excellent growth of small grain crops.

Table 40. Wheat production on fallow, recrop and continuous cropping.
Treatment Yield in bushels per acre 10-yr. Avg.
1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985
Fallow 43.0 26.9 38.5 32.4 22.3 21.3 33.9 46.1 34.5 36.7 33.6
Recrop 27.0 11.5 31.4 15.9 0.0 14.5 25.7 39.0 20.4 14.8 20.0
Continuous cropping 22.0 5.0 30.6 12.8 0.0 14.0 24.9 38.5 27.2 20.6 19.7

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