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Photo by John Bartsch

A good week for planting - USDA report shows progress

A lot of work remains, but Upper Midwest farmers finally made a strong start to the 2018 planting season.

Wheat, oats, barley and sugar beets all enjoyed substantial gains in planted acreage in the week ending May 6, according to the weekly crop progress report released May 7 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

An unusually cool spring delayed planting in much of the area, stressing farmers who waited anxiously to get into their fields. But some of that concern is partially alleviated after brisk planting in the first week of May.

Wheat, normally the first of the region's three major crops (corn and soybeans are the other) predictably enjoyed most of the planting gains.

South Dakota, in particular, saw extensive gains in spring wheat acreage. Farmers in the state had 51 percent of their spring wheat planted as of May 6, up from 12 percent a week earlier. That means 39 percent of the state's wheat acres were planted in a single week. Minnesota farmers had 27 percent of spring wheat planted by May 6, up from 2 percent a week earlier.

Montana producers had 24 percent of their spring wheat in the ground by May 6, up from 6 percent a week earlier. North Dakota spring wheat producers had planted 20 percent of their crop by May 6, from 3 percent a week earlier.

Oats and barley saw gains in planted acres similar to those of spring wheat.

Sugar beet producers were especially active. In North Dakota, they had planted 66 percent of their crop by May 6, up from 10 percent a week earlier. Minnesota sugar beet producers had 50 percent of their crop in the ground by May 6, up from 10 percent a week earlier.

Corn and soybean planting began in earnest in the week ending May 6 in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Even so, the planting pace for both crops still trails the five-year averages in all three states. Keep in mind, however, that unusually early planting starts in several recent years skewed the five-year averages.

To read the full report: