Crop & Pest Report


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Northwest ND (04/30/20)

Information from the Northwest region of North Dakota.

I think it is fair to say that 2020 has started off like nothing we’ve ever seen before. With COVID-19 causing disruptions to almost all aspects of daily life, it is reassuring to see spring arriving in Northwest ND. For those of us involved in agriculture, the warmer temperatures and planting season are a familiar comfort and allow us to get outside and start the work of the growing season.

Planting started in earnest last week in much of Northwest ND with just a few early birds able to start planting the previous week of April 13th. Many fields are still soft after the record-breaking September rains and a little more drying out is needed before everything is ready to plant. Interestingly, we’ve had very little new moisture in March and April. Most places received just a dusting of snow once or twice and a few trace amounts of rain in scattered showers last week. The top 2” of soil is drying out, but there is still a lot of subsoil moisture lower in the profile.

Soil tests taken down to 24” here at the Williston REC have been uniformly low in N showing that leaching happened last fall with all the rain. If you still need to apply fertilizer, I highly recommended testing your soil to see how much N is available and adjusting your application plans accordingly. If you are a long-term no-till practitioner, select a few fields to test the top 2” separately from the deeper cores you normally take to check pH at the soil surface. We’ve seen a decrease in pH (more acidic conditions) in some long-term no-till fields in southwestern ND and at the WREC and we want farmers to be on the lookout for low pH/ acidic soil conditions. 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 exhibiting aluminum toxicity and need remediation.

If you’re interested in a weekly update on ag markets from NDSU economists Frayne Olson, Tim Petry, and Bryon Parman, register for the Friday Ag Market Outlook webinars here:

These webinars will be every Friday in May at 12:30 pm Central Time.

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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