By Tanner Ehmke, AgWeb Editor
Fieldwork came to a halt across North Dakota in recent days as a barrage of ice and snow brought more complications to an already slow harvest pace, according to AgWeb Crop Comments.
North Dakota farmers reported more difficulties in the past week with getting into fields due to more untimely storms that layered fields with thick sheets of ice and snow – on top of already saturated fields too soggy to support heavy harvest machinery.
A hard freezing rain "covered everything under a layer of thick, crystal clear ice,” a farmer in Walsh County, N.D. reported on Nov.10. "Every branch, twig and blade of grass is about .75 inch thick.”
Stormy weather drifted out of the Rockies last week and intensified as it moved into the northern Plains last week, weather research firm Planaytics reported in their weekly newsletter FlashWeather. Blizzard conditions accompanied the snow with accumulations exceeding a foot in many areas, according to Planalytics. In the Black Hills, accumulations of more than three feet of snow were reported.
"Soybeans and edible beans are history now,” according to a Crop Comment from northeast North Dakota. "We will need to get some warmer temperatures to melt snow off.”
Last week, corn harvest in North Dakota was measured at 11% complete, compared to its 5-year average of 69%, while soybean harvest was 88% done, down from its average of 96%. Sunflower harvest was also behind schedule last week at 54% complete, down from the average of 69%. Sugar beat harvest was nearly complete at 94% finished. USDA will update their ratings today at 3 p.m. Central Standard Time.
In addition to a stretch of warmer weather to melt off the ice and snow, North Dakota farmers are also hoping for dry weather to allow crops to dry down and for freezing temperatures to follow in order to freeze the ground to support heavy machinery.
"The corn and sunflowers will need cold temperatures to freeze the ground so we can travel the fields for harvest," according to the report from northeast North Dakota. "Lots of field work left to be done."