Frost Affects Spring Planting - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Frost Affects Spring Planting

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Watching the winter months crawl by can be a daunting task for North Dakota Farmers, but their work never stops. Spring is hopefully just a few months away, but before farmers hit their fields and start to plant, there is one factor that could force them to change their plans.

"As the calendar progresses, and we're getting closer to Spring, it's going to be a concern. How soon will the ground temps warm up? Of course we need 40 plus for canola, 55 degrees for soybeans and corn and wheat as well," says Dakota Agronomy Partners manager Jeff Heil.

This year's frost levels in North Dakota have been rumored as reaching six to nine feet below ground level. And levels like that are uncommon for this time of year. A big reason for this is a lack of snow cover. And it's effecting winter crops.

"With a lot of winter wheat that got planted last fall, that is going to be a concern.  We did need some snow cover, we did get some snow cover early, but it disappeared over the winter. Again, that's where the cold temperatures come into play and the frost levels got so deep," says Heil.

But before farmers can get out and harvest green fields, they'll have to take time to consider if a prolonged spring thaw will force them to change their crop rotation.

"Naturally patients is what they're going to have to think about. We get into May, the ground temperatures should naturally warm up. If they don't producers will look at other commodities," says Heil. "Later commodities as the season progresses there's always soybeans that you can plant into June and sunflowers."

When farmers deal with an unpredictable force like mother nature, one of the most important things they can do is be prepared for any situation thrown their way.

"Farmers do put together a tentative plan," says Heil. "There's always plan A and plan B, and there is a backup source if they can't plant early crops like canola and so forth. They will have to look at other commodities."

Resources are available for farmers at the North Central Research Extension Center just south of Minot. 

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