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.”

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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Co-op store vital to Regent

The Regent Co-Op Store’s facade has barely changed over the years. It opened in 1936 and continues to serve the small community today.

REGENT — Darrel Remington remembers when Regent supported three grocery stores.

“All were important, of course,” he said as he looked over a mostly quiet Main Street on the morning of Feb. 5. “Then it narrowed down to eventually the one.”

The one, thanks to sustained community efforts, has fought through the tough times and still provides an essential service to the small southwest North Dakota town of less than 200 people.

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Pheasant outlook optimistic: Hunters flock to Regent as season begins

Lee Donner, right, a Regent native who now lives near Waco, Texas, chats Friday with his friends Jim Stipcich, middle, of Helena, Mont., and John Gerbino, left, of Short Hills, N.J., at a campground off Main Street, Regent.

REGENT — This small southwest North Dakota town typically has two busy seasons: harvest and hunting.

The latter kicks off this morning with the opening of the state’s pheasant hunting season — and Regent is one of the places to be.

Like many rural North Dakota towns this weekend, Regent’s population of about 170 more than doubles, and bars and the little lodging it has fi ll up as hunters from around the state and nation flock to the outdoorsman’s paradise.

“It gets crazy,” said Karen Kouba, co-owner of the Cannonball Saloon and the city’s auditor. “It’s hard to find help just for this period of time. But I think we’re staffed OK this year.”

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Hettinger 4, Regent 2: Players, coaches and officials recall the infamous low-scoring basketball game

This image, taken from the Hettinger County Herald, shows the lack of action that was prevalent during the District 24 boys basketball tournament game that was played Feb. 27, 1992, at Bowman’s Solberg Gymnasium. Regent, a heavy underdog against Hettinger, chose to slow the pace of the game and take advantage of its four-corners offense. What ensued was a contest that likely will never be duplicated.

Curt Honeyman knew the idea was a little crazy.

Then again, it was also so simple he wondered if it also wasn’t the perfect plan.

In the days leading up the 1992 District 24 boys basketball tournament, Honeyman preached patience to his Regent Rangers team.

“Patience to the extreme,” said Scott Sheldon, the Rangers’ sophomore guard and leading scorer that season.

Honeyman’s theory was that if the Rangers could sit in their fourcorners offense long enough, they could force the taller, more talented Hettinger Black Devils into defensive errors, put points on the scoreboard and keep the game from spiraling out of their reach.

On the evening of Feb. 27, 1992, at Solberg Gymnasium in Bowman, Honeyman sent his team onto the court with simple goals: be deliberate and patient on offense and control the tempo.

He never expected, 20 years later, people would remember the game.

Then again, he also never expected the final buzzer to sound with this score: Hettinger 4, Regent 2.

“We knew we couldn’t play with them basket for basket,” Honeyman said. “We had to try and keep the score close and keep it low. But nobody in the gym, including myself, knew that it was going to turn out that way.”

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