Spring Wheat & Durum Tour Starts Tuesday!


By Katie Micik, DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) — Scouts on this year’s Hard Red Spring Wheat and Durum Tour will see a crop that’s a few weeks behind average in development but with overall good quality, the tour’s organizer said.

“I think we’re going to see some decent wheat,” said Ben Handcock, executive director of the Wheat Quality Council. An unusually rainy spring delayed planting in North Dakota and much of the crop will be two to three weeks behind normal. “But it’s got time. If the weather stays hot like it has been it will start catching up a little.”

Handcock expects scouts will see very little durum wheat and less spring wheat than usual but will see plenty of flooding.

“We’re going to go through Minot, and of course the road was even closed up there until just recently. I think there’s water over it in some places, so we’re going to have to slow down and drive through water but we’ll get around,” Handcock said. The Souris River near Minot broke a 130-year-old flood record earlier this year and flooded more than 10,000 homes. The Missouri River has also flooded parts of Bismarck, N.D.

The tour starts its scouting in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday morning with scouts fanning out into western Minnesota and northern South Dakota on their way to Mandan, N.D. The second day of scouting covers western and northwestern North Dakota, getting within a few miles of the Montana and Canadian borders before ending in Devils Lake, N.D. Scouts will cover the northeastern corner of the state on Thursday, ending in Fargo. The tour will release yield estimates Tuesday and Wednesday evening and will give an estimate of the average yield and size of North Dakota’s crop Thursday afternoon.

More than 70 scouts will stop in fields to take measurements, which they will plug into a formula used to estimate yield. Scouts will drive the same routes as years past, parking in field’s implement entrances or along shallow ditches before entering fields to count wheat heads or tillers in one foot of a row. “We just have to be careful where we park or we could be stuck somewhere,” Handcock said.

The wet spring delayed planting, but high wheat prices this spring meant farmers kept planting later than usual. In March, NASS estimated North Dakota farmers would sow 7.1 million acres of spring wheat. It revised that number down to 6.35 ma, but is resurveying farmers and that number may be high.

“It’s not like its (flooding) never happened before, but it’s maybe worse than it ever has been for planted acres,” Handcock said.

Handcock expects to see some young wheat, only 6 to 8 inches tall, in northern parts of the state and in the Canadian Prairies, which will face a freeze threat before it’s ready to harvest. He also expects to see some unplanted fields and fields where standing water killed 20{e7e4ba4d9a3c939171d79cae1e3a0df1d41e5a91c3c4158fbb92284b490bc9d3} of the wheat.

The saturation may have caused nitrogen leaching in some places, which raises questions about the protein level in this year’s crop. “But it depends on how much stress is on this crop as it heads and fills. Things could change,” he said. And fortunately for millers — one contingent of the crop tour’s attendance along with traders, bakers, farmers and media — decent protein levels in the hard red winter wheat crop takes some pressure off the spring wheat crop.

“The wheat may be pretty good, it’s just late,” he said. North Dakota’s crop progress report for July 18 rated the spring wheat crop as 1{e7e4ba4d9a3c939171d79cae1e3a0df1d41e5a91c3c4158fbb92284b490bc9d3} very poor, 3{e7e4ba4d9a3c939171d79cae1e3a0df1d41e5a91c3c4158fbb92284b490bc9d3} poor, 24{e7e4ba4d9a3c939171d79cae1e3a0df1d41e5a91c3c4158fbb92284b490bc9d3} fair, 60{e7e4ba4d9a3c939171d79cae1e3a0df1d41e5a91c3c4158fbb92284b490bc9d3} good and 13{e7e4ba4d9a3c939171d79cae1e3a0df1d41e5a91c3c4158fbb92284b490bc9d3} excellent. “Obviously they had plenty of moisture. What it needed was a little sunshine and it’s been getting that the last week or two.”

You can follow reporter Katie Micik on Twitter (@KatieMDTN) for field-by-field observations and estimates. Nightly updates can be found in DTN Ag News and in the Top Stories section.


© Copyright 2011 DTN/The Progressive Farmer, A Telvent Brand. All rights reserved.

Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp


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