Harvest struggles continue for North Dakota producers

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WARD COUNTY, N.D. - Weather is causing unprecedented delays for North Dakota producers trying to bring in the 2019 crop.

Only one third of North Dakota's corn has been harvested. On average, 95 percent of the crop would already be in the bin.

Ronald Behm has been farming for 55 years. This year's wheat crop marks a first for him as a producer.

“I've never left a crop in the field” Behm said.

Behm was forced to abandon 1,000 acres of his wheat. He only had six days of decent weather to combine before moisture reduced the quality of the crop and it lost half its value.

“We had a crop and we lost it. We didn't get it in the bin and we didn't get it in the bank.” Behm said.

Behm said he will try to salvage his uncut wheat for feed and if he can't do that, he will burn these acres next spring. Behm's sunflower and corn crops are also still standing.

This corn would normally would have been harvested by Dec. 1. It could still be standing by next spring if it isn't hit with significant amounts of snow and wind.

"There hasn't been a year where I've had to harvest corn or sunflowers in the spring but, this might be the year, in all my years of farming I've never had to do it." he said.

Any corn that has been harvested is being dried down at elevators.

Kayla Burkhart the general manager of Dakota Midland Grain says only 300,000 bushels of corn have been brought to her elevator and fans are running round the clock to dry it down.

"Pretty much everything that's coming in is being dried twice. If we can keep it staffed we'll run it 24/7. Most f the time we'll shut it off for a few hours at night and start it up again in the morning." Burkhart said.

Despite all of the challenges the 2019 crop has presented to producers, Behm said he remains optimistic.

"You just do the best you can with what you've got and next year's another year. You've got to be optimistic that you know, things will get better," he said.

Behm said he hasn't harvested a single acre of his sunflower crop. He's already filed for crop insurance and if necessary also will try to harvest his flowers in the spring.

According to USDA, only 51 percent of the states sunflowers have been harvested.

Normally, 95 percent of the crop would have been cut by now.