Weather can be a big problem for North Dakota farmers.
There can be drought.
There can be heavy thunderstorms, or blizzards in late spring
By Brad Mosher
But that didn’t stop New England farmer Jon Wert from winning a national award recently for wheat yield.
One of his fields north of New England has averaged more than 100 bushels per acre in three of the last nine years, according to Wert.
It has paid off for the farmer who won the 2018 National Wheat Yield trophy for the Spring Wheat Dryland competition.
The competition was held by the National Wheat Foundation, as a way to improve the wheat industry through competitions, research, outreach and education. After accepting the award, Wert added that he felt the winning yield was a number he could improve on.
He also said that it was a combination of good weather, some luck and some good decisions
Wert had entered the contest in 2016.
According to the Hettinger County NDSU Extension agent, Duaine Marxen, Wert’s victory was well-deserved.
“I thought that was awesome. I mean 103 bushels per acre is pretty doggone impressive,” Marxen said. “The wheat yield was great, but his really big thing is the clubroot and canola. He wants to make sure we do not get it here.”
Clubroot is a major disease threat for canola producers in North America. When it comes to canola crops, it causes swelling on the roots, causing the plants to die. Currently, there is not really a cure for a field once it has become infected, but there are measures that can cut down its spread, including crop rotation, soil amendments and cropping certain resistant varieties.
Clubroot spores can survive in soil for up to 20 years, but also have been known to become non-viable after a two-year break from a hosting crop, such as canola, according to information from the Canola Council.
It is so important to Wert, the farmer was one of the speakers at the recent Hettinger County Crop and Livestock annual meeting in New England.
“Clubroot is a terrible disease. It is not bacterial and it is not a fungus, so there is no chemical control. It was discovered in Alberta Canada in 2003 after it had come over from Europe. In less than 10 years, it spread across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and in 2013, it was discovered in Cavalier County,” he told the people attending the annual meeting in February.
Wert said that it had spread into North Dakota and become a major problem for canola producers in the state.
“It is mainly spread by soil. What they are finding, is it can be spread by applicators, spreader trucks… it is spreading from field to field.
“When it was first discovered in Canada, they found it could completely wipe out a field. That is how serious it is,” he said.
It also had an impact for other farmers, who didn’t want to rent fields and have the disease spread to other field, he explained.
“They tried to control it, but it spread,” he said.
Wert also asked people to be extremely careful. “If you know of people going into Canada…make sure they wash the soil off.”
He added that the resistant varieties of crops can help, but with a problem. “They have discovered in Alberta now that it (clubroot) has developed a resistance to the resistant varieties.”
A soil pH factor can have an impact on how clubroot can spread or take hold, Wert added. “A pH of 7.0 or higher seems to be fine. The counties that have low pH, that is where they are finding it (clubroot).
“It hasn’t shown itself in the west yet because the pH is higher,” he added.
Having a variety of crops and rotating the crops are just a few ways to avoid giving clubroot a foothold in the region, he said. A minimum of a four-year rotation is recommended. “The more years out you are (the better). If you can do a four-year rotation and a resistant species, you are going to drastically reduce your spore count.”
He concluded his presentation by asking farmers to be sure they washed any equipment that went into Canada before returning to the United States and North Dakota.