Jenny Schlecht / Forum News Service
SPIRITWOOD, N.D. — The roads leading to the Dakota Spirit Ag Energy ethanol plant are lined with uncombined corn. In some places, stalks are in standing water about knee-high. David Freeman, merchandiser at Dakota Spirit Ag Energy, owned by Midwest Ag Energy, says conditions in the 30-40 mile radius from which the plant typically buys corn have been as wet as anyone has seen in at least a decade. Stutsman County, where the plant is located, in October declared an emergency because of flooding. High water is common throughout the region.
FARGO — A while back, I wrote a column that looked back on an item from a North Dakota newspaper in 1925 that had the optimistic belief that tractors and washing machines would “keep children on the farm.” Since we now know that those items did little to stem the exodus away from farms, I asked readers what they thought might keep people on the farm. I had a lot of calls and emails, and I read plenty of thoughts online. Most of the thoughts seemed to go into three categories: 1. Change farm policies. 2. Sell to end consumers.
You’re supposed to “make hay while the sun shines.” But what happens when it doesn’t shine? For Justin Weatherford, of Florence, S.D., the wet summer and early fall meant putting up about two-thirds of the amount of hay he needs for his approximately 150 ewes and 1,200 feeder lambs. It also means, thanks to runoff filling low spots, that he’s only going to be able to move about a third of his hay home until a hard freeze firms up the ground. “Things just won’t dry out,” he said. He plans to graze longer, if the weather allows, to stretch his hay supplies.
CARRINGTON, N.D. — Through the morning of Oct. 3, Erickson Implement in Carrington had sold nine sets of after-market tracks for combines. By that afternoon, they’d sold another two sets. “We’re selling whatever kind of track attachments we can get,” said service manager David Nelson. “Some of the places are running short on them already. I don’t know that the rest of the world was ready for this.” In a normal year, the dealership would sell no after-market tracks, though they might sell them factory-installed on one in 10 combines, Nelson said.
MINOT, N.D. — If something can go wrong in the cattle business, Todd Wilkinson has seen it. Wilkinson, of De Smet, S.D., partners in a feedyard with his brothers and a cow-calf operation with his son, but his day job as a lawyer specializing in agriculture means he gets caught up in some ugly cases. Wilkinson told some of his horror stories during Cattlemen’s Education series presentations on “Protecting Your Investment” Sept. 19 at the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association convention in Minot.
FARGO — From 2008 to 2015, opioid prescriptions increased 59.7% in North Dakota, and enough opioids were prescribed in South Dakota in 2017 to medicate every adult in the state for 15 days, according to Strengthening the Heartland, a joint project on opioid addiction from South Dakota State University Extension and North Dakota State University Extension. Against that backdrop, Strengthening the Heartland is trying to build awareness of opioid misuse in rural communities with training programs for adults and teens, print and online resources, webinars and more.
BISMARCK — Bee boxes sit to the west of Clark Coleman’s sunflower field north of Bismarck. Honeybees play a vital role in pollinating sunflowers, helping increase yield and quality. But up until now, the bees have been placed nearby and farmers hope for the best. “Bees pollinate, but they don’t know where,” explains Kate Lyall, who owns and operates Australian agriculture technology company Bee Innovative with her husband, David.
KENMARE, N.D. — It was June 6, 2017, and planting was behind.
BISMARCK — Sometime around 2014, John and Donovan Stober were sitting at the table, discussing ways to add value to their crops. The Stobers have farmed near Goodrich in central North Dakota since the land was homesteaded in the early 1900s. John is the fourth generation on the place, and Donovan, his son, is the fifth. The family had a previous value-added venture, Flax USA, and they felt the best way to keep their farm alive to a sixth generation was to find another idea.
TOWNER, N.D. — While much of the Midwest struggles with flooding and soggy conditions, farmers and ranchers in northern North Dakota and southern Canada are dealing with their third consecutive year of drought conditions. “Everyone I’ve talked to around this area has said the same things: The grass in the pastures is not there; the hay meadows are not there; the water holes are low. What are we going to do?” said rancher Robert Green.