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Planting was progressing quickly in the Great Bend, N.D., area on May 15, while farmers in some areas of the southern Red River Valley were looking for rains predicted on May 17 and 18. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

Planting: Catching up, finish line visible

Upper Midwest farmers overall still have a lot of planting ahead. But the finish line, though well in the distance, is finally visible.

Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota farmers generally made rapid planting progress in the week ending May 27, according to the weekly crop progress report released May 29 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report was released a day later than usual because of Memorial Day.

The week's strong planting pace, combined with extensive planting in the week ending May 20, has allowed 2018 planting — which got off to a slow start — to catch up, or nearly so, to the five-year average from 2013-2017.

Corn and soybeans made especially big planting gains in the week ending May 27. For instance, South Dakota farmers had 91 percent of their corn planted, up from 66 percent a week earlier and down only marginally from the May 27 five-year average of 92 percent.

But spring wheat, oats, barley and sunflowers also enjoyed substantial planting gains in the most recent week, according to NASS.

Many Upper Midwest farmers expect to wrap up, or virtually so, in the week ending June 3 if the weather cooperates, according to anecdotal reports.

Much of the upcoming planting will involve soybeans, typically the last of the region's three major crops (corn and wheat are the others), to go into the ground. Sunflowers, another crop that's normally planted relatively late, also are expected to see substantial planting if the weather allows.

Here's a state-by-state look at planting progress for spring wheat, corn, soybeans and sunflowers. Remember, the statewide totals can mask intra-state differences in planting progress; farmers in some parts of each state will have made more or less progress than the statewide total suggests.

Spring wheat

North Dakota — Ninety-one percent was planted on May 27, up from 78 percent a week earlier and up from the May 27 five-year average of 83 percent.

Minnesota — Ninety-three percent was planted on May 27, up from 85 percent a week earlier and up from the May 27 five-year average of 92 percent.

Montana — Eighty-seven percent was planted on May 27, up from 66 percent a week earlier but down from the May 27 five-year average of 94 percent.

South Dakota — Ninety-six percent was planted on May 27, up from 94 percent a week earlier but down from the May 27 five-year average of 98 percent.

Corn

Minnesota — Ninety-three percent was planted on May 27, up from 77 percent a week earlier and up from the May 27 five-year average of 92 percent.

North Dakota — Eighty-seven percent was planted on May 27, up from 62 percent a week earlier and up from the May 27 five-year average of 84 percent.

Soybeans

North Dakota — Seventy-two percent was planted on May 27, up from 33 percent a week earlier and up from the May 27 five-year average of 61 percent.

South Dakota — Sixty-one percent was planted on May 27, up from 24 percent a week earlier but down from the May 27 five-year average of 65 percent.

Minnesota — Eighty percent was planted on May 27, up from 48 percent a week earlier and up from the May 27 five-year average of 73 percent.

Sunflowers

South Dakota — Twenty-eight percent was planted on May 27, up from 13 percent a week earlier and up from the May 27 five-year average of 17 percent.

North Dakota — Thirty-six percent was planted on May 27, up from 12 percent a week earlier but down slightly from the May 27 five-year average of 37 percent.

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