More Spring Wheat in North Dakota


by Pam Smith, DTN Crops Technology Editor


FARGO, N.D. (DTN) — Scouts on the Wheat Quality Council spring and durum wheat tour estimate North Dakota’s spring wheat crop will yield 44.9 bushels per acres, up from last year 41.5 bpa.

Durum yields were estimated at 42.4 bpa, also exceeding last year’s estimate of 31.8 bpa. Hard red winter wheat was estimated at 45.8 bpa, down slightly from the 47.0 bpa estimate last year.

“We found some good wheat,” tour organizer Ben Handcock said. “I see nothing to be concerned about. There may be a few fields with light test weight, but that’s about it. I’d like to own most of those fields.”

Handcock added that unlike previous years, the crop is far enough along that hail might be the only bad thing that could possibly happen to it. Overall, the yield potential of the 2012 crop was estimated at 44.8 bpa for all three classes. The group scouted 421 fields in total — 377 hard red spring wheat, 26 durum and 18 hard red winter wheat.

The wheat tour’s estimate has traditionally come within 2 bushels of NASS’s final spring wheat yield average. Last year, however, deviated from that trend with an estimate of 41.5 bpa compared to USDA’s final figure of 30.5 bpa. Last year’s tour found wheat that still had a way to go before maturity. The estimate this year is expected to be closer to actual yield since much of the winter wheat is harvested and much of the state’s spring wheat crop is almost ready to combine.

On the third day of the tour, Thursday, scouts measured 73 fields and estimated the wheat from Devils Lake to Fargo will yield 48.4 bpa.

More than 70 millers, bakers, grain traders, farmers and media started measuring fields on Tuesday between Fargo and Mandan, N.D., with some routes swinging into Minnesota and South Dakota. On the second day, some routes measured wheat within a few miles of Canada before turning east to Devils Lake. On the third day, more than half of the scouts toured the North Dakota Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks, N.D. one of the nation’s largest flour mills and the only state-owned mill in the country.

Overall the tour found some exceptionally good wheat with little disease pressure. “It’s great to see such a healthy crop,” Handcock said.


DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (DTN)–Scouts on the second day of the Wheat Quality Council’s spring and durum wheat tour, found plenty of wheat to measure. The second-day average estimated spring wheat yield was 45.5 bushels per acre, compared to 41.3 bpa last year.

Sixteen cars filled with scouts fanned out across central and northwestern North Dakota — reaching fields as far north as the Canadian border. A total of 172 fields were sampled.

Much of the winter wheat was already in the bin, although a few combines were running north of Bismarck. Nine hard red winter fields were sampled and yields were gauged at 52.8 bpa.

Hard red spring wheat made up the majority of the fields sampled during the second day with a weighted average estimate of 45.5 bpa, compared to 42.1 bpa in 2011. A total of 23 durum fields were scouted with yields calculated at 42.6 bpa, a substantial increase from the 31.8 bpa estimated last year.

On the first day of the 2012 crop tour, scouts estimated spring wheat yields at 42.9 bpa and durum yields at 28.6 bpa.

In the field, tour organizer Ben Handcock worried that the estimates coming from the scouts in his car might be slightly high. However, wheat growers attending the nightly reveal of results found them spot on. “The entire state of North Dakota is going to have a good crop,” said Bill Ongstad, a grower from Harvey, who also participated in the second day of the tour.

“We’ve had some decent rains. We got a good start, had good subsoil moisture and early seeding — that makes such a difference,” Ongstad said. “Now we just need to find more uses for wheat.”

Ongstand, who is also a seed dealer for AgriPro (Syngenta) told DTN in an interview that one of his customers who farms near Bowdon had harvested 92 bpa HRW with a test weight of 62 pounds.

“We’re just don’t see a bad field,” he added. “Weed control is good and disease pressure light.” Some of the spring wheat is still four weeks away from harvest. If temperatures stay 90 degrees or above, it’s going to suffer.”

John Weinand, who farms near Hazen (about 75 miles north of Bismark), said he started cutting winter wheat on July 9 — at least two weeks earlier than normal. “Our yields have been running between 60 bpa and 90 bpa,” says Weinand during a DTN interview. “I fertilize for 75 bpa, so I’m feeling good about this crop.” Weinand said test weights have been averaging between 60pounds and 64 pounds.

“We’re struggling to get the protein we want,” he added. “We’ve had some as high as 15, but I’d say it’s averaging 11.”

Weinand has already sown cover crops into harvested HRW fields. He used a mix of millet, purple top turnips, black sunflower, barley and tillage radish. The cover crop is already growing well and if the seeding gets enough growth, he will cut some of it in September to extend forage supplies.

It was clear that wheat is competing with many other crops for acreage in North Dakota. Corn, soybeans, alfalfa, sunflowers, flax, canola, peas, pinto beans and barley were all found peppering these regions. It was reported that for the first time in the history of Wells County, it is soybeans, not wheat, that is the top crop.

Scouts mostly found fields that were free of disease. However, Handcock could only shake his head when Ergot was found in a field near the Garrison Dam. “I’m seeing more of this disease all the time and I don’t like it,” he said. Lodging was an issue in some fields, but the fields were remarkably weed and pest free.

On Thursday, scouts will drive east and south to Fargo. Tour-wide yield and production estimates will be released Thursday afternoon along with the day three estimates.


MANDAN, N.D. (DTN) — One four letter word kept cropping up during the first day of the Wheat Quality Council’s spring and durum wheat tour across North Dakota: Corn. Scouts driving the southern and west central route of the annual tour encountered more corn than they could remember in prior years.

This is, after all, supposed to be wheat country, but even that was a bit of challenge. What scouts found was an extraordinary number of stubble fields where harvest was already complete. Harvest is running two to three weeks ahead of schedule, and Monday’s crop progress report indicated that 9{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} percent of North Dakota’s spring wheat has been harvested already.

Combines were rolling all along the day one route that covered the southern part of North Dakota and dipped into western Minnesota and northern South Dakota. Almost all of the wheat remaining in the field was deemed to be ripe to soft dough stage.

Although heat and dry conditions have begun to creep into the state, scouts found the light rain showers and mid-80’s temperatures a welcome respite from weather across most of the rest of the country. A few fields were thought to have suffered some heat stress, but most of the wheat sampled was deemed in good condition. There was little evidence of disease. Grasshoppers were the only insect pest of mention and while plentiful, were below a threatening threshold.

The tour calculated the overall yield from the first day at 42.6 bushel per acre based on 176 field stops. The majority of the wheat found was hard red spring wheat (HRS) — which was gauged at 42.9 bushel per acre. On the first day of the tour last year, scouts estimated the spring wheat crop would yield 39.5 bushel per acre.

Dave Katzke, Senior Technology Manager at General Mills and a 20-year veteran of the tour, said he thought overall the crop looked better than he expected. For the week of July 23, 2012, the USDA, NASS North Dakota Field Office rated topsoil moisture at 20{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} very short, 53{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} short, 26{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} adequate and 1{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 13{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} very short, 44{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} short, 41{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} adequate and 2{6b02cb02835b82b7f756ddf6717aaab7139b350de274ea97f5b53eb230607107} surplus.

“In my opinion, what we saw today was a typical wheat crop,” said Katzke. “Overall, fields were pretty clean and few of disease and weeds.”

He noted that last year the wet conditions pushed the crop much later into the season, making estimates more difficult. “The closer the wheat is to harvest, the closer the formula is,” he added. Scouts estimate yield by counting the number of heads in three feet of a row, the number of spikelets per head and the average number of kernels per spikelet. Drill row width also factors into the formula.

Only two durum fields were measured during this first day, and yield was calculated at 28.6 bushel per acre. Three hard red winter fields were sampled, and yield was estimated at 30.3 bushel per acre.

As scouts move through the state’s north and western growing regions on Wednesday, they should find more durum areas.

You can follow DTN’s progress tomorrow on Twitter at @PamSmithDTN.

© Copyright 2012 DTN/The Progressive Farmer, A Telvent Brand. All rights reserved.

Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp


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