North Dakota spring planting delayed by blizzard

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FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Last week’s spring blizzard that dumped up to 20 inches of snow in parts of North Dakota will delay spring planting.

Farmers on average now intend to start fieldwork by April 26, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. That’s later than the typical mid-April start, though earlier than last year’s average start in early May due to a mid-April blizzard.

Hensler farmer Clark Price told The Bismarck Tribune after last week’s storm that it will delay him another two weeks.

“It was looking nice and early, but now who knows,” he said.

The precipitation is welcome, however. Both topsoil and subsoil moisture in the state is rated 97 percent adequate to surplus - up slightly from last week, according to the statistics service. Stockwater supplies in the state are rated 99 percent adequate or surplus. The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows only the far northeastern corner of the state as being dry.

When North Dakota farmers do get in the field, they are expected to plant 16 percent more of the state’s staple spring wheat crop than last year, according to the federal Agriculture Department’s March 31 prospective plantings report.

Corn plantings in North Dakota are expected to be down 23 percent from last year’s record and soybean plantings up 22 percent from 2013. That mirrors the national trend, with more farmers turning to soybeans because of a higher demand for the crop.

Other North Dakota crops that will likely see an increase in acres are canola, sunflowers, dry beans and flaxseed.

Crops with expected acreage drops are hay, barley, oats and sugar beets.

Some farmers aren’t too far removed from finishing up last year’s harvest, due to an early October blizzard that forced some producers to leave crops in the field over the winter. Mandan farmer Dennis Renner told the Tribune that he harvested sunflowers in January and the last of his corn in February.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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