Farmers will still be combining at ChristmasArea farmers will still be combining corn at Christmas. “It’s going to be another month or so until we’re done,” said Duane Dows, a Page, N.D., farmer. This is no ordinary year for Dows and other area producers, who normally wrap up their corn harvest in November.
By: By Jonathan Knutson, Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Area farmers will still be combining corn at Christmas.
“It’s going to be another month or so until we’re done,” said Duane Dows, a Page, N.D., farmer.
This is no ordinary year for Dows and other area producers, who normally wrap up their corn harvest in November.
Only 53 percent of North Dakota’s corn is harvested, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Minnesota has harvested 87 percent of its corn, although the rate is much lower in the west-central part of the state, where fields are wet.
Corn is one of the region’s most important crops. Minnesota ranked forth nationally in corn production last year. North Dakota was 12th.
The corn harvest has been hampered by wet fields, cold and high moisture content in the grain, which makes it expensive to dry and difficult to store.
Recent bitterly cold weather, which included subzero temperatures, has firmed up most of the fields.
But some farmers, including Dows, quit harvesting until temperatures rise.
“The equipment just doesn’t operate normally when it’s this cold,” he said.
For instance, belts on farm equipment are more prone to breaking in extreme cold.
Waiting a little longer to harvest also allows the cold to reduce the moisture content of corn that’s particularly wet, said Phillip Glogoza, a Minnesota Extension crops educator in Moorhead.
But waiting carries risk.
A heavy snow could make it difficult to get into fields.
And the stalks of some corn plants aren’t as strong as usual this year, which could cause the plants to break in bad weather, Glogoza said.
“They’re picking and pecking away, and that’s good, Glogoza said. “But I don’t think they’ll have it all by Christmas.”
Jonathan Knutson is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead,
which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.