For 2 days earlier this week, I attended meetings with farmers in northern North Dakota who are interested in growing corn.

The message from Nick Jensen, chief marketing officer for Thurston Mfg., and from agronomists from Monsanto, is that strip-tilling in cold climates will help the soil warm up faster, get corn out of the ground quicker and improve yields.

I like the idea of warming up, especially when the wind came up on Wednesday afternoon while we watched a Blu-Jet strip-till rig made by Jensen’s company run through fields just south of the Minot Air Force Base. Then again, I haven’t forgotten the 9 inches of wet snow that fell in mid-September back in 1984, when I worked on a friend’s farm in North Dakota.

Back then, corn was a relatively rare sight in state that is more known for wheat. But today, technological advances in equipment and seed — including hybrids with maturities as short as 74 days — makes corn growing not only possible, but also profitable.

If you’re strip-tilling corn in the northern U.S., Canada or other places where spring comes late and the snow flies early, let me know. We’ll share your insight with strip-tillers in future issues of Strip-Till Strategies. Email me at or call me at 503-507-4423.