WISHEK, N.D. – By the first week of September, the Bettenhausens we’re about halfway through wheat harvest, and the crop was looking like one of their best ever, at least in terms of yield.
“All the wheat we’ve done so far has been really, really good,” said Adam Bettenhausen on Labor Day, Sept. 2. “It’s looking like one of our best years ever as far as yield.”
The protein on the wheat has been a little lower than they’d like, and their test weights have hovered around 60 pounds per bushel, though Adam expected more.
“I expected better than that with the great growing conditions we’ve had,” he said. “We had intermittent rain – it’s actually been one of the wetter years we’ve had. It’s been great for the wheat and canola, but not so much for the soybeans and corn. We’ve gotten into the 80s, but not much warmer than that. We’ve also managed to dodge any major wind or hail events, at least so far.”
The Bettenhausens pressed pause on wheat harvest to pull of their canola, which they finished on Friday, Aug. 30. With half their wheat done, they switched over to canola to get that wrapped up before some weather moved into the area.
“The canola ended up decent, not as good as last year, but it’s still one of our better canola crops we’ve ever taken off,” he said. “It was just a lot more variable that I thought. We had some stuff that was really good, but then we had some spots that were way poorer than I had expected to see at all. It all evened out, but I was surprised by the variability of it.”
Some of their underwhelming spots in the canola fields had been in alfalfa production for at least the past 10 years. While the ground is of the poorer variety to begin with, the lackluster results with the canola in that area is leading Adam to do some investigating on the cause of the problem.
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“I’m going to pull some soil samples from some spots and try and figure out if there’s something specific we can fix to get those spots a little closer to a normal production level,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re low on phosphorous or what the deal is, but for all the moisture and rain we’ve had this year, sandy ground shouldn’t have much of a problem and this spot in particular did.”
As of Labor Day, Adam estimated it would take them about 5-7 days to finish up the other half of their wheat acres, depending on weather and equipment breakdowns.
“We have a lot going on right now with trying to get combines ready to go,” he said. “We actually just bought a machine at an auction a couple weeks ago that we’ve been working on to get ready. We’ll probably run three machines to get done since we’re getting late here. It’s slow sledding now, but as long as everything holds together and stays standing, it’s not too big of a deal.”
As for the late season crops, they really just need some heat moving forward.
“The corn is at the dough stage, not dented yet,” Adam said. “We need about 30-40 days of good growing weather to finish that corn, which is tough with how cool this weather has been. We’re going to be harvesting wet corn, I’d almost guarantee it at this point. It’ll be interesting to see how close we get to finished before we get a killing frost.
“The soybeans are still filling pods, so some heat there would be great for yield. The sunflowers don’t need heat as much, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt them either to get them putting on test weight and yield,” Adam concluded.