Planting season well underway, though farmers hope precipitation is in future

MOTT — After 23 years of farming, Mark Anderson is happy to stick to his “game plan.”

The Regent-area farmer said neither below-average precipitation nor low commodity prices have shaken him much this year. He’s still seeding the crops he’d planned for and said Monday that he’s more than halfway finished.

Though with much of western North Dakota in a moderately dry drought, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s drought monitor, Anderson and others say they can’t help but hope for a little rain soon.

“It’d be nice to get a good rain to settle the dust,” he said. “I think everybody would have kind of a weight lifted off their shoulders if they’d get an inch of rain.”

Most southwest North Dakota farmers are in the same boat as Anderson — about half done with their spring planting while hoping for some moisture to give those seeded crops an early boost.

Garret Swindler, who farms east of Anderson in the Mott area, said the only benefit to the dry year so far is farmers were fighting wet and muddy fields just to get their crops seeded last spring.

He said the moisture left in the topsoil after winter is fine for seeding, but it’ll only be good if planting season if followed by some rain.

“There’s enough moisture there to get the crops started,” he said. “We’re definitely planting deep. … We just have to make sure that seed has enough moisture to germinate and get out of the ground. But you can’t really wait on rain either.”

Duaine Marxen, the Hettinger County Extension agent in Mott, said most farmers he works and speaks with on a regular basis have been in the field for the past couple of weeks, and like Anderson and Swindler, most are well on their way to wrapping up planting efforts. Contending with dry conditions and high winds, however, have made for some challenging days, he said.

“No one here will complain if it starts raining,” Marxen said with a laugh.

Farmers might get their wish this weekend.

The National Weather Service is forecasting some showers for southwest North Dakota this week, with chances increasing toward the weekend and into next week.

That could be a welcome relief, as Todd Hamilton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, said the Dickinson area is already 1 inch below average rainfall for the year.

“We haven’t really had any real significant precipitation in quite some time,” Hamilton said, adding it has been about six months since southwest North Dakota experienced a large precipitation event.

He said conditions are “abnormally dry” throughout the western and central parts of the state.

“We are still early in the growing season now, so there’s certainly potential for us to move out of this,” he said.

Anderson said he has wrapped up seeding his spring wheat and Swindler planned to be finished with it by today. After that, both said they’d move on to other crops such as flax, canola and corn.

Anderson said while some farmers might be trying to “outguess” the weather or the future of commodity prices in deciding what or where they plant certain crops, he’s happy to stay the course and stick to what has worked for more than two decades.

“What looks poor now may be your best moneymaker in the end,” he said. “… I’ve been through these times before. You just seed the crop and cross your fingers.”

Former legislator James Kerzman of Mott dies in farm accident

Jim Kerzman, a former state legislator from Mott, holds a lamb on his farm in this undated photo. The state representative of 20 years who also farmed near Mott for a half-century died Saturday in a tractor accident on his farm. (Submitted Photo)
Jim Kerzman, a former state legislator from Mott, holds a lamb on his farm in this undated photo. The state representative of 20 years who also farmed near Mott for a half-century died Saturday in a tractor accident on his farm. (Submitted Photo)

MOTT — Jill Kerzman said her husband wasn’t perfect — but he was close.

Now, as she prepares to say goodbye, she said she’ll forever remember how he tried to treat others with care and help those who were less fortunate.

James Kerzman, a state legislator of two decades who farmed near Mott for a half-century while raising 10 children, died Saturday in a farm accident involving one of his tractors. Details of the accident have not been released by the Hettinger County Sheriff’s Department.

“He was one of the kindest men I will ever know in my life,” Jill Kerzman said in a phone interview. “He was a humble, hard-working man who really got into his life and got dirty.”

Kerzman, 68, was a Democrat who represented District 31 from 1990 to 2010. After his political career ended, he stayed busy as a member of the Slope Elective Cooperative and the North Dakota Farmers Union boards, and was an active member of St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in Mott while also being heavily involved in the Knights of Columbus.

“His heart was as big as the prairies of North Dakota, but it was also as gentle as the little lambs he raised on his farm,” said Aaron Krauter, a former Democrat state senator from Regent.

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Southwest ND farmers slowly start spring planting

The spring planting season has begun in southwest North Dakota.

County extension agents and farmers south of Dickinson said fertilizing and seeding of fields is slowly starting throughout the area thanks to a mix of warm temperatures, dry conditions and general anxiousness.

“Right now, everybody is tickled,” said Duaine Marxen, Hettinger County’s extension agent.

But it isn’t full-speed-ahead quite yet, farmers said.

“We’re kind of piddling along here,” said Terry Kirschemann, who farms near Regent. “We need another week of temperatures before we can get into the heavier stuff.”

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Men of steel: Mott’s Roadmaster makes impact for energy, ag industries by fabrication

Roadmaster manager Corey Johnson stands in the shop the company moved into last December.

MOTT — Mott sits on the outer edge of western North Dakota’s Oil Patch. Still, the small town of about 800 people has found ways to contribute to the bustling energy industry.

The company making perhaps the biggest impact is Roadmaster, a subsidiary of K&K Construction in West Fargo.

Though its name can be deceiving — a remnant of about a decade ago when its primary task was fabricating and welding metals for asphalt paving equipment — Roadmaster is contracted to fabricate and weld structural steel used on electrical substations that end up being used on oil rigs and at major substations throughout the country. Along with that, the shop also makes cattle creep feeders.

“A lot of this goes nationwide,” manager Corey Johnson said. “It’s a big process.”

Video: Jim Ferderer explains what Roadmaster does.

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Farm accident claims the life of 19-year-old Mott man

A 19-year-old Mott man beloved by the community he grew up in died Monday while doing what he loved, family and friends said.

Mike Wehri was attempting to spray a field for an area farmer he worked for when the machine he was driving “hit something electrical,” Hettinger County Sheriff Sarah Warner said.

Wehri was a 2012 Mott-Regent High School graduate and recently completed his freshman year at North Dakota State University, where he was majoring in agronomy.
“All he wanted to do all his life was be a farmer,” said Judy Martin, Wehri’s grandmother who lives in Dickinson.

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