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Montana Ag Network: Drought-stricken farmers in NE Montana remain optimistic

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It’s a busy time of the year for farmers as spring planting continues. In Montana, planting conditions vary across the region with some areas in better conditions than others.

This year one of the driest areas in America is Northeast Montana. Despite this, farmers are back in the field planting another high-quality crop of cereal grains, pulses, and oilseeds.

“Well, I still think there’s some opportunity out there for us to try to optimize,” said Adam Carney, who farms in the Peerless and Scobey areas. “We still have to go through the steps and put the seed in the ground. And as we’re standing here right now, this is probably the best seeding conditions I’ve had all year. Hopefully, they continue to get better. It takes rain to get more rain. So hopefully all the crop comes up in rows and has the opportunity to get the next shower.”

Northeast Montana is known for its Dark Northern Spring and Durum wheat. But pulse crops are also very important to farmers here and their cropping rotations.

“The pulse rotation is really enhanced the durum crop we’ve raised,” said Blake Rasmussen, who farms in the Outlook and Plentywood area. “We’ve raised some tremendous ones over the years and continue to hope to continue that. The pulse crops help break up some of the disease cycles and the durum crop helps break up the disease cycles in the pulses. The two complement each other very well. Then throw in oilseeds-whether it’s flax, mustard or canola-to help some of the weed challenges and disease cycles as well.”

Farmers here also take great pride in raising their crops. And that’s because they know consumers around the world will be consuming food products made from them.

“I think we do a good job of raising it, if not the best,” said Carney. “There’s no question about our quality. I think everyone here enjoys being in northeastern Montana producing a quality grain for the world to consume. They’re creating more people and there’s less acres becoming available. So we have to do a better job in order to create a quality product for these buyers.”

For farmers in rural areas like Montana’s Daniels and Sheridan counties, it’s more than just raising high-quality crops.

“Farming gives you that complete holistic experience,” said Rasmussen. “You get to have your kids around, your wife, and be home for lunch and have the kids on the tractor. And that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”

According to the latest USDA Crop Progress Report, most of Montana’s cereal grains are between 30 and 50% planted, pulses are over 40% planted and oilseeds are around 30% planted.

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