North Dakota and Ward County continue to rank very high in the production of many of the crops grown in the state. North Dakota ranks first in the United States in 2008 in the production of spring wheat, durum, barley, canola, sunflowers, flax, pinto beans, navy beans, dry edible beans and lentils. The state ranks second in sugarbeets and all wheat. Ward County ranks second in the state in the production of spring wheat, fifth in durum and barley and third in canola production. Ward County is also typically the leading county in the state in the production of flax.
Corn, soybeans and wheat comprise a great majority of the crop acres in the United States and are the driving force behind the market trends for most crops. Corn is the leading feed grain produced in the United States and the world. Soybeans are the recognized leader in the oilseed complex. The hard red spring wheat market is influenced by the winter wheat crops, which are larger and harvested earlier.
Although North Dakota is not a leading area in the production of corn and soybeans, we do have the advantage of crop diversity. We are not just dependent on corn and soybeans like some Corn Belt states. This spring diversity could be an advantage. If our spring planting is late because of the cold and wet weather we have a better opportunity in switching to earlier maturing crops or crops that tolerate late planting. The same is true when we evaluate crop production budgets. With the 10 crops that are typically grown in the area our farmers have more options.
Our crop diversity is enhanced by our cool summers. Canola, flax, spring wheat, durum, barley and field peas are all cool-season crops that perform very well in our area, but may not necessarily do so well in areas of the United States that have warmer summers. The proven advantage of a good crop rotation has also enhanced our crop diversity.
Mike Rose is North Dakota State University Extension Service agent in Ward County.