Preparing for 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. - The USDA says at the end of January, only half of North Dakota's corn has been harvested.

With many around the state still trying to collect last year's crop, extension agents say they have to start preparing for next year.

Producers described 2019 as "a year to forget even if you got your crop off." Despite record high yields, farmers are preparing for planting season, even with crops still standing.

A lot goes into deciding what crops to plant.

Producers met at Farm Credit Services in Mandan to set a game plan for the next growing season.

“Part of it comes down to what crops are going to be suited for early season. And if we're not able to get the crops in the ground, I'm gonna say through mid-May, then are we gonna be having to switch to other crops as well.,” NDSU Extension Agent Rick Schmidt said.

Typically, the earlier a farmer can plant, the better. But if 2020 is anything like 2019, a lengthy winter could bring delays; on top of expected flooding come spring time. And the fields may not be Spring-ready when that time comes.

"There's a lot of dynamics that are uncertain yet at this point, but obviously the lack of getting the crops off the ground just kind of magnifies some of the issues that farmers are dealing with at this point,” Schmidt said.

And many around the state are trying to be optimistic for a better year. Some may be reliant on it more than others. When a farmer buys seed, they lose opportunities to rely on crop insurance.

"We know that people are struggling financially, and they're gonna need a good year to balance the bank ledgers and keep their operating loans,” Schmidt said.

Extension Agents are suggesting farmers start buying fertilizer as well, as international markets become more competitive.

The NDSU Extension Service unveiled a crop calculator, which allows producers to compare the costs and profits for different foods. They believe this will help growers find the best options for 2020. It can be found at www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension.