Crop & Pest Report


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Northwest ND (04/29/21)

Information from the Northwest region of North Dakota.

To say that planting season 2021 is starting out differently than 2020 is an understatement! Unfortunately, we are now in an extreme drought after a severely dry 2020 summer, fall, and a warm winter with little snow. Last year at this time, many were waiting for fields to dry out before planting after heavy rain during fall 2019. This year, some took advantage of warm and dry conditions in late March and early April to get started. A cold snap two weeks ago brought a little rain and snow (only 0.15” rain and 2” of snow to the Williston area, but places north and east received more with about 0.25” rain and 6-8” snow). We were hoping for more rain this past weekend but totals were only 0.05-0.15” in most places. Now with warmer temperatures this week with highs in the 60’s and 70’s and possibly 80 this Friday, planting is starting in earnest. Some farmers are nervous about planting canola and soybean due to the drought and may wait until moisture is in the forecast to seed, but likely those who have purchased seed will choose to plant it.

Here at the Williston Research Extension Center, the winter wheat trials have been abandoned due to lack of germination. It has been too dry since planting to get it out of the ground. Hopefully the bit of moisture we’ve received this month will be enough to allow spring crops to germinate and we’ll get some timely rains in the coming weeks. The dry conditions have also inhibited weed germination, but PRE herbicides are still a good idea as many will stick around until there is moisture to activate them.

A reminder to anyone who does no-till and is soil sampling to select some fields to sample the top 2” separately from your normal sampling depth (usually 6” or 12”) to check for low pH at the surface. We are continuing to find fields with low enough surface pH to negatively impact crop growth. Prioritize checking fields with lighter soils or where you have seen areas of reduced growth the past few years. If you have fields with pH < 6.0, it is time to start thinking about how to maintain or increase pH and consider avoiding rotations heavy in crops with high N needs. Fields with pH < 5.0 are at risk for aluminum toxicity and need remediation.

Best wishes to everyone for a safe and healthy planting season!


Clair Keene

Extension Cropping Systems Specialist

NDSU Williston Research Extension Center

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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