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Spring planting update

Ducks enjoy a swim in this temporary lake in a snowy farm field north of Minot this week.
After the unusually warm February most of the Upper Midwest experienced, the return of snowstorms and freezing temperatures in March was hard to face but fairly normal. Many growers in northern North Dakota, for example, are still looking at small snowbanks along fence lines and groves, and standing water in many fields, which is more common than not for this time of year. 

North Dakota
North Dakota’s significant reduction in wheat acres this year is causing cropping shifts – to more soybean and canola acres, and possibility more sunflower acres, as well. Fertilizer buying patterns so far this year support those trends, with fairly aggressive fill buying of phosphates, potash and ammonium sulfate, but a little more hesitancy when it comes to nitrogen and choosing between ammonia and urea, says Jon Berglund, western North Dakota account and premium product manager. “The sizeable increase in ammonium sulfate this spring gives credence to the trend toward more canola acres.”

He says little field activity is expected in the state anytime soon, with the exception of the southwestern part of the state, where some growers were reportedly starting on some ammonia application this week. 

Southern and Eastern Texas
In southern and eastern Texas, the bulk of planting was being wrapped up earlier this week, before rain moved through. The general grower mood is more optimistic than it’s been in several years, says Wesley Kirkham, account manager for south and east Texas. “We’ve seen good movement of urea in the past three months, along with better-than-normal application of DAP and potash. Even the liquid business looks good this spring in this half of the state.”

Adequate moisture levels are a major reason for improved crop outlooks. Subsoil moisture levels in the eastern half of the state range from 62 to 82 percent adequate, with a few areas having surplus moisture. “Good levels of fertilizer are moving out for application on hay crops now, across the state,” adds Kirkham.

Southcentral Montana and Northern Wyoming
Field conditions in southcentral Montana and northern Wyoming have dried enough in some areas to allow for application of dry fertilizers this past week. “In western Montana normal levels of fertilizer spreading are taking place and growers are burning stubble to get fields prepped for seeding,” says Joe Reynen, account manager for Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. “Within two weeks we should see drills in the fields in many parts of the state.

“The good amount of moisture that fell across most of the state last fall and winter should encourage most growers here to seed all their acres this spring,” he says. 
The state’s growers are expected to plant more pulse crops again this year, but fewer acres of malt barley and possibly fewer sugar beet acres.