Tour sees ‘extraordinary’ wheat crop in North Dakota

Bismarck, North Dakota/Reuters — Big spring wheat yields were projected in southern North Dakota as abundant soil moisture and cool weather helped foster crop development following an uneven planting season, scouts on an annual crop tour found on Tuesday.

“I think we have seen an extraordinary crop,” said Dan Wogsland, executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association and a scout on the tour. “For the overall crop, we are set. I think we are pretty well made (but) some late, late-planted stuff may run into problems.”

Yield potential across the southern areas of the state, the largest spring wheat producer, was calculated at an average of 48.3 bushels per acre, based on surveys of 156 fields. That compares with 43.3 bushels per acre in 2013 and the tour’s five-year average of 42.9 bushels per acre.

The Wheat Quality Council’s annual three-day tour of spring wheat in North Dakota kicked off on Tuesday, with scouts fanning out from Fargo, N.D., to sample fields across the southern portion of the state. Scouts also surveyed some fields in South Dakota and Minnesota.

Conditions were generally better for growth in central portions of the southern areas.

Expectations for the spring wheat crop are running high after near-ideal conditions allowed for excellent plant development following a wet and cool spring that caused some planting delays.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said the spring wheat crop was rated 70 per cent good to excellent as of Sunday, unchanged for the fourth week in a row. Crop conditions often deteriorate throughout July due to hot and dry weather.

In North Dakota, which accounts for 46 per cent of total U.S. spring wheat acreage this year, 82 per cent was rated good to excellent.

U.S. plantings of spring wheat other than durum were up 1.113 million acres at 12.709 million in 2014, a four-year high that included a 800,000-acre jump in North Dakota.

MGEX spring wheat futures for September delivery fell 4-1/2 cents to $6.18-3/4 a bushel on Tuesday. Spring wheat futures have shed about 11 per cent since the start of June as expectations for a bumper harvest have risen with each conditions report.

The USDA has projected 2014 spring wheat production in North Dakota at 266.8 million bushels, the most since 2010.

Although most of the crop was in good shape, the planting delays led to uneven development.

“You will find fields at are ripe on one end and green on the other,” said Tom Teigen, director of the North Dakota State University Agronomy Seed Farm. “It is a mixed bag.”

Scouts observed multiple fields in the Red River Valley that were unplanted, likely due to the wet conditions in the spring. Farmers in western areas also were unable to plant some fields.

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