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Barley near Mooreton, N.D., could use a drink

Two-row barley could use some rain but has a good start toward a strong crop at J&K Farms, as the Mooreton, N.D., skyline the background. The two-row barley is more highly sought in a trend toward micro-brewery beer consumers. Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service1 / 3
Jeff Skovholt and his brother, Korey Skovholt, operate J&K Farms at Mooreton, N.D. Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service2 / 3
J&K Grain Farms of Mooreton, N.D., raises corn, soybeans and sugarbeets, which Jeff and Korey Skovholt rotate with two-row barley. The crop could about an inch of rain a week when it gets warm. Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service3 / 3

MOORETON, N.D. — Jeff Skovholt's barley could use a good drink.

"Our rain has been minimal, so we could use a good 1- to 2-inch soak," says Skovolt, who farms with brother, Korey, near Mooreton. When it gets warm, the farm could use a good inch each week.

The bustling headquarters of J&K Grain Farms stands to the west of Interstate 29 at the Wahpeton/Mooreton exit — perhaps one of the most visible farms in the state. The Skovholts and their crew raise barley, mostly for a rotation crop for sugar beets, and have set themselves up for handling corn and soybeans.

Sugar beet acres are down a bit, but everything else is on the same rotation basis.

"The barley looks pretty good," Jeff says, sparing a moment for an interview during a busy spraying season. "We got it in a hair late, but it went in good."

They got into barley a few years back in contracts with Busch Agricultural Resources in West Fargo. This year they're trying the two-row barleys that are popular with an expanding microbrew industry but also serve as a good rotation crop for the beets.

"This is the first year for the two-row. We've (historically) done the traditional six-row, but the demand for the two-row has gotten greater," Jeff said. "We swapped over to that and the contracts are better."

In the past three years the Skovholts have had good barley crops, with 90-plus bushels per acre and good quality.

"It's all made malting," he said. "We're hoping the same for this style barley. They have their weed and fungicide program in place to help make the grade.

"We do all of the little things to make sure it stays of the quality of the malting," Jeff said.

The family raised some wheat last year, because they couldn't get the full barley contract to cover their acres.

"We rotated a little wheat in, but the barley seems like it is a more profitable crop."