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Combines out already

An earlier start to the growing season has some farmers already combining small grains.

Nate Tallackson said he started cutting a couple hundred acres of winter wheat northwest of Grafton, N.D., on Tuesday afternoon.

"This is the first time ever we planted winter wheat," Tallackson said. "Perfect year for it. Nice snow cover. I think we're running over 80 bushels, pretty good weight, protein's a little low."

Brad Brummond, North Dakota State University Extension crop specialist, said he considered the early start "an anomaly."

"Last year, some farmers didn't start until Labor Day," Brummond said. "We're at least three weeks ahead. Most of the small grain and winter wheat will start the end of next week. We've got some spring wheat that's a couple weeks away."

"Some barley went down Friday and I just saw a combine down here running by Mayville," said Ken Nichols, NDSU Extension agent. "We are early, two to three weeks earlier than normal."

Both Willie Huot, NDSU Extension agent, and Russ Severson, University of Minnesota Extension educator, said farmers are using pre-harvest herbicides to dry out the wheat and make it easier to combine. Severson said he's seen some winter wheat cut up by Warren, Minn., as well as some barley research plots.

"For the last several years, harvest has been more like mid-August," Severson said.

James R. Johnson is a reporter at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.