Farmers and agribusinessmen are concerned with the late spring and delayed planting for this area. Typically spring field work starts the last part of April in the Ward county area and now it appears that the first week in May will be an optimistic starting date. The delayed start of field work compresses the planting season and means the crops are not planted at optimum plant time.
Most of the crops that are grown in north central North Dakota are cool season crops that respond to early planting. Field peas and canola are two crops that are usually planted first in the spring. Research has shown that when planting of these crops is delayed yields are reduced. Canola and field peas are sensitive to heat during flowering and seed set which usually results in lower yields. In addition many green pea varieties are susceptible to powdery mildew, which is more of an issue with late planting.
Flax is also a cool season crop that responds to early planting. Research at Minot demonstrated that yield losses are significant with delayed planting of flax. Even with these potential yield reductions flax is still commonly selected as a crop for late planting.
Sunflowers are a little more forgiving in their yield response to late planting compared to early season crops. It takes sunflower approximately 90-100 days to reach physiological maturity when planting an early maturing hybrid in June.
Small grains are also cool season crops that respond to early planting, although the planting window is generally considered longer than canola and field peas. Wheat yield reductions are considered to be 1.5 percent per day when planted after the optimum time frame which in this area is the first week in May.
The final planting dates for full crop insurance coverage and prevented planting provisions will play important roles this spring. With the high cost of production, the potential for reduced yields, and reduced crop insurance coverage after the final planting dates the prevented planting provision will probably be used more often this spring.
On a positive note, forage crops, pastures, and annual crops that are planted close to a timely basis will respond favorably to the abundant moisture in area soils.
Mike Rose is North Dakota State University Extension service agent for Ward County.