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Forum Editorial Board, Published October 15 2012

Editorial: Harvest won’t be a disaster

Despite the regional drought, harvest 2012 is looking better than anticipated just a few weeks ago. The early wheat harvest was exceptionally surprising with hard red spring wheat and durum exceeding 2011 bushels-per-acre yields in many places. For the most part, wheat weathered the dry conditions quite well and harvest conditions were near perfect in most areas. Ag experts attribute wheat’s success to sufficient stores of sub-surface moisture, which carried the crop to maturity even as the rains quit. And the crop’s quality was high.

Corn and soybean success was more variable, dependent not only on rains and soil moisture but also on the ability of specific varieties to handle exceptionally dry weather. Yields are not setting records for highs, but neither will record-low yields be the rule.

Sugar beets seemed to have fared the best in the drought. Both yields and sugar content are very good, according to officials in the Red River Valley beet industry. Harvest is well under way somewhat ahead of schedule, and as long as cool weather dominates the region, the lifters and trucks will be moving.

Of course, the variability of conditions during a drought year translates into variability of crop success. One producer might have a better-than-expected corn crop while a farmer a mile away might not. But, an overall assessment of valley crop production on both sides of the Red River suggests the disaster that seemed to be on the horizon a couple of months ago will not be realized.

That’s good news for producers, processors and for the entire economy of the region, where farming and agribusiness remain major components of the economy.

Now all the region needs is a couple of weeks of soaking fall rains. The soil profile is very dry, and without replenishing rains and/or wet snow before the ground freezes, next spring could be a tough one for farmers.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.