ND farmers catch harvesting break

Published: Feb. 17, 2020 at 9:36 PM CST
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It may be late in the season, nearly new season, but finally some good news for farmers.

An October blizzard shut down much of the state, and even more bad luck for producers followed.

Over the past seven days, farmers caught a break.

A warm spell last week opened up a window of opportunity for North Dakota farmers to finally get out and harvest their crops. Farmers are saying it's better late than never.

This time of year Dean Goetz expects to be plowing his drive way. But just one week ago, he found himself plowing his fields, too.

"Just one of those deals. We have harvested late; probably not this late before, but occasionally it does happen where you get an early snow and things hold you up. But I know some people who have been harvesting nine months or more which gets to be a strung out harvest season,” Goetz said.

Continuous cold and lingering moisture kept Goetz from harvesting. Last week, his farm in Baldwin caught a break. Snow began to melt, and access to his sunflower crops opened. But the outlook is still far from perfect.

The saturation problem in the soil in continuing into the winter. Underneath this layer of snow is solid ice.

Just getting the crops out hasn't been the only issue. Some crops, like corn, need to be dried at the farmers' expense. This season saw demand for dryers skyrocket; leading to a region-wide shortage of propane.

"Everybody was going at the exact same time, and they were using three to four times their normal amount. That's the key: three to four times WHAT they normally would. Well there's not infrastructure in place to handle three to four times the normal amount,” said Jon Proesch of Farmers Union Oil Company.

With the lag in harvesting the past few weeks, the supply of propane has been replenished. And Proesch said they have too much propane now.

Snowfall over the weekend closed that window of opportunity for farmers leaving a lot of crops still un harvested across the state. Now many farmers are moving past last year's crop to prepare for this one.

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