CropStop: Central North Dakota’s And The Too Wet/too Dry Year Turns Out Pretty Good Yields

Wheat yields were highly variable on the Todd and Mary Goven farm near Turtle Lake, N.D., this year. But the average was better than expected and quality was excellent.


Ben Goven, 12, concentrates with a piece of straw in his mouth as he runs a 1,100-bushel Avalanche grain cart on the farm at Turtle Lake, N.D., for the second year in a row.


Coming to the end of the too wet/too dry year


TURTLE LAKE, N.D. – Todd Goven of Turtle Lake, N.D., and his wife, Mary, farm with their sons, Donnie, 14, and Ben, 12. At harvest, Todd gets a week of help from his brother Greg, who lives in Minneapolis, too.

“Harvest is my favorite season,” Todd says. “We get the whole family out here; I like it.” This year’s wheat crop varied a lot, but was better than Goven anticipated. The harvest was complete about Sept. 13. A rented field the Goven family was cutting Aug. 21 had a wide mix of soils in a small area, so yields were varying considerably within it. Donnie’s yield monitor was ranging from 15 bushels an acre in the gravel spots to 85 to 90 bushels in the draws. Ben was chasing the combines with a 1,100 bushel grain cart.

“We have good head fill, and super-good test weight,” Todd said. “Our protein has been from 14.0 to low 16s on the high end. “The quality is great. That being said there are the lighter soils within the fields that seemed to take quite a hit, and I think we leached some nitrogen this spring. I think our rooting wasn’t normal because of it was saturated for so long, so when we did hit some 85-degree weather, during head fill, I think those areas got compromised. I think it was a combination of too wet in May and June and too hot and kind of hot and dry” later.

Goven says it’s surprising to see how much wheat can yield within a field, but this year’s variance is exceptional. “You take the average and it’s a much better crop than I thought was here,” Goven says.

Todd  is a private pilot and the family has a four-seat Cessna 172 Skyhawk, which – among other things – can be used for parts runs, when necessary, or to get to recent Big Iron trade show in West Fargo, N.D., on Sept. 10. Donnie says he wants to go to the University of North Dakota to become a pilot – perhaps become a certified flight instructor, even if he continues to work on the farm.

“It’s too fun not to fly,” he says.

The Govens stopped in at the Agweek booth at Big Iron XXXIII, but I missed them. They flew back to Turtle Lake on Tuesday evening. I hope to see many of you at Big Iron through the week. If you can’t find me, dial my cell number, listed in Agweek. For details about the Goven crop situation and other CropStops from western North Dakota, check out Agweek on Sept. 16.