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SIDNEY, Mont. – Sugarbeets in their long rows at Fresh Hopped Farm have opened their leaves up to the sun to gather rays. There has been a week or two of sun-shiny, hot days in the 90s at the farm, with a couple of light rain showers in the mix.

Crops have really taken advantage of the heat.

“All the crops look really good. We had a stretch of hot, humid days – with one day a little drier – and the beets are really catching up now,” said Sarah Rachor, who farms with her dad, Mike Degn, at the farm near Sidney.

Most of the crops in the Yellowstone Valley were behind about two weeks due to a cool spring with wet fields.

Now, with the warm days and hot temps, crops are growing by leaps and bounds and are quickly catching up to where they were last year.

Sarah’s beets are growing tall and bushy and are definitely gaining tonnage.

“The beets are doing well. I haven’t seen any Cercospora in the beets and the 90 degree temps during the day with 60 degrees at night will usually keep it from starting in the crop as long as the humidity stays down,” Sarah said.

Sarah finished irrigating all the beets in the center pivot field twice, before it needed a part replaced. Since the part needed to be shipped in, she will wait until Monday to replace the part and run the irrigation back through.

Their soybeans “look good and are setting pods,” she said.

In fact, the beans near the center pivot have reached the nozzles in height, thanks to the sunny days and good irrigation.

Sarah’s hops are looking nice and growing well. They usually don’t start picking the hops until Labor Day, and they have to get them to the Butte Brewery within 24 hours in order to have fresh beer made.

“I usually go at 4 a.m. in the morning and drive while it is cool to get the hops there while they are still fresh,” she said.

Spring wheat on the farm is rapidly turning golden.

“Most of our wheat has turned color. There’s a few patches of green in some of the clay soils, but most of the wheat is on sandy soil and it is almost ready to go,” she said.

Sarah is prepared for the upcoming wheat harvest, which may happen by week’s end (around Aug. 10). 

She plans to be in the combine harvesting – switching off with her Dad - probably about two weeks to finish cutting all the crop.

“All the equipment has been maintained – the combine is greased, the trucks have been cleaned and oiled and everything is ready to go,” Sarah said. They have a semi and two other trucks so they have plenty of options for moving the grain from the combine to the bin.

“We usually store the wheat on the farm,” she added. The prices are down during harvest, anyway, and they were already low. In fact, the wheat price is the same right now as when Mike, her Dad, started farming in 1979.

“Unfortunately, the input costs aren’t the same as they were in ’79,” she said.

After combining the wheat, they plan to bale half the straw. Some folks in the area have been asking them for some straw for bedding for their cow/calf pairs this winter.

The timing with wheat harvest has been a little flexible this year because the crop is behind where it was at this time last year.

That has allowed Sarah to go to the Richland County Fair and relax a bit before harvest gets under way.

“My whole family got to spend a day at the fair, taking in 4-H exhibits, art and agriculture projects, the great pie at Pella Pantry, and of course a few rides,” Sarah said, with a smile.

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