Harvests good, but don't hold your breath
North Dakota State Roundup
Published January 1, 2010 | January 2010 issue
Things came up mostly green for North Dakota’s farmers this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state’s soybean crop will be up 10 percent from a year ago, thanks to higher yields and an increase in harvested acres. The state is also a leader in pulse crops (grain legumes), which had banner years. The state’s dry pea crop rose 46 percent, and the lentil harvest is expected to be more than triple the size of last year’s crop because of significantly more harvested acres, which itself was driven by prices that are double those in 2006. The state’s average sunflower yield is expected to approach its 2005 record.
Not everyone is having a spectacular year, however. Potato growers are facing blight for the first time in years and expect production to drop by 17 percent. The corn crop is down by one quarter, though mostly due to much lower harvested acres. The wheat harvest is only expected to match its five-year average.
State farmers also have been pioneers in getting paid for their carbon-capturing ability, but prices for so-called carbon offsets have crashed. In May 2008, carbon contracts were trading over $7 per metric ton on the Chicago Climate Exchange. Prices dropped to about 60 cents by summer and to 15 cents in early December.