Spring wheat harvest passes halfway point

by Jay Sjerven
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Standing out among the spring wheat states was Minnesota, where wheat condition on Aug. 20 was rated 86% good to excellent.
 
 

KANSAS CITY — The 2017 spring wheat harvest was more than half completed by Aug. 20, and the corn and soybean harvests were under way in the South and Delta states.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated in its weekly Crop Progress report issued Aug. 21 that the spring wheat harvest in the six principal states was 58% completed by Aug. 20 compared with 40% a week earlier, 63% a year ago and 51% as the recent five-year average for the date. Combining was 52% completed in North Dakota (45% as the five-year average for the date), 88% in South Dakota (74%), 42% in Minnesota (62%), 66% in Montana (45%), 49% in Idaho (53%) and 62% in Washington (67%).

The U.S.D.A. provided what should be its final spring wheat crop condition rating of the season with 34% of the crop in the six states rated good to excellent, 24% fair and 42% poor to very poor, a sliver better than a week earlier, when the crop was rated 33% good to excellent. On Aug. 20, 2016, last year’s crop was rated 66% good to excellent.

Standing out among the spring wheat states was Minnesota, where wheat condition on Aug. 20 was rated 86% good to excellent. Unlike the rest of the northern Plains, Minnesota benefited from timely rain throughout the growing season. The Minnesota spring wheat yield was forecast at a record 61 bus per acre.

Spring wheat yields across the rest of the northern Plains were forecast to be below average. At 38.3 bus per acre, other-spring wheat yields were forecast to be 9 bus per acre below the 2016 average but narrowly above the most recent low of 37.7 bus per acre in 2011.

The U.S.D.A. on Aug. 10 forecast the other-spring wheat crop at 401,554,000 bus, down 25% from 534,027,000 bus in 2016. If the forecast is realized, the 2017 other-spring wheat crop would be the smallest since 389 million bus were harvested in 2002.

The North Dakota Wheat Commission in its Aug. 22 harvest report noted, “Much of North Dakota received precipitation over the last week ranging from a trace to nearly three inches. The heavier rain fell in the central and eastern portions of the state, delaying harvest progress and causing some concerns over color loss and adverse effects on test weight.”

The commission said yields have been variable with western producers reporting anywhere from less than 10 bus per acre to as high as 30 bus per acre on fields that weren’t abandoned. In the eastern portion of the spring wheat region, yields have been higher, ranging from 35 to 70 bus per acre.

The North Dakota State University spring wheat quality lab has begun analyzing the quality of the 2017 crop. With less than 20% of the samples collected and analyzed, the commission said, “The early quality data shows as expected with higher protein and vitreous kernel content, and slightly lower test weights, showing the effects of drought stress. Protein is currently averaging 15.4%, compared with 14.1% last year, and falling number is above 400 seconds. Vitreous kernel content is at 88%, and average test weight is lower than last year at 60.6 lbs per bu.”

The U.S.D.A. indicated the North Dakota durum harvest was 19% completed by Aug. 20. The drought-afflicted crop was rated 11% good, 45% fair and 44% poor to very poor. The Montana crop was 75% harvested by Aug. 20 compared with 50% a week earlier and 28% as the recent five-year average for the date.

The North Dakota Wheat Commission indicated North Dakota durum yields were low, as expected. The Montana harvest was “pushed along by hot, dry conditions, extremely low yields and no rain delays,” the commission added.

 U.S. Wheat Associates in its Aug. 18 harvest report indicated, based on 11 of 113 expected samples, durum test weight was averaging 59.5 lbs per bu (60.5 lbs as the 2016 crop average), protein was averaging 15.2% (13.7% in 2016) and thousand kernel weight was averaging 34.2 grams (39.8 grams in 2016).  Analysis of the samples’ other grade factors was not yet completed.

The U.S.D.A.’s forecast for the 2017 durum crop was 50,535,000 bus, down 51% from the 2016 outturn of 104,116,000 bus. If the forecast is realized, the 2017 durum crop would be the smallest since 47 million bus in 2011.

With the end of the spring wheat and durum harvests in sight, the fall crop harvest was under way in the South and Delta states, and planting of the 2018 winter wheat crop soon will begin.

The U.S.D.A. indicated the 2017 corn harvest was 58% completed in Louisiana by Aug. 20, 11% in Arkansas, 26% in Mississippi, 16% in Alabama, 54% in Georgia and 28% in South Carolina. The soybean harvest was 14% completed in Louisiana, 1% in Arkansas and 4% in Mississippi.

The U.S.D.A.’s Southern Plains Regional Field Office in Austin, Texas, indicated some farmers in the Texas Northern High Plains have begun seeding winter wheat. Growers in Colorado and Nebraska typically begin to seed winter wheat around the end of August. Kansas winter wheat planting typically begins around Sept. 10.
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