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Erin Ehnle Brown/Grand Vale Creative LLC

Crop season lags in early September

Warm temperatures and the absence of early frost are always important to Upper Midwest agricultural producers in September. But cooperative weather is critical this crop season, with the wheat harvest and corn and soybean development still far behind normal.

The weekly crop progress report, based on conditions Sept. 2 and released Sept. 3 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, confirms that both the wheat harvest and overall crop maturity lag their normal rates. That reflects the late spring, which delayed and hampered planting.

For example, 85% of South Dakota corn reached the dough stage by Sept. 2. The five-year average for that date was 97%.

Widespread rains in late August were a mixed blessing. They helped late-planted, still-developing corn and soybeans, which will benefit even more if September weather cooperates and allows the corn and beans to continue to mature normally.

Another positive, at least in some areas: the rains helped to recharge subsoil moisture, bolstering the outlook for 2020 crops.

But the late-August rains further slowed wheat harvest, which already lagged its normal pace. Unharvested wheat, especially when wet, can lose quality, leading to discounts, or price reductions.

Here's a closer look at wheat, corn and soybeans, the region's three major crops:

Spring wheat

Montana: 46% of the crop was harvested by Sept. 2, down the five-year average of 76%.

Minnesota: 65% of wheat was harvested by Sept. 2, compared with the five-year average of 81%.

North Dakota: 52% of the crop was harvested by Sept. 2, compared with the five-year average of 73%.

South Dakota: 79% of wheat was harvested by Sept. 2, compared with the five-year average of 91%.

Corn

Minnesota: 84% had reached dough stage by Sept. 2, compared with the five-year average of 94%; 55% of the crop was rated good or excellent, the rest fair to very poor.

North Dakota: 72% had reached dough stage by Sept. 2, compared with the five-year average of 87%; 74% was in good or excellent shape, the rest fair to very poor.

South Dakota: 76% had reached doughstage by Sept. 2, down from the five-year average of 92%; 65% was rated good or excellent, the rest fair to very poor.

Soybeans

North Dakota: 97% had set pods by Sept. 2, compared with the five-year average of 98%; 64% was in good or excellent condition, the rest fair to very poor.

South Dakota: 85% had set pods by Sept. 2, compared with the five-year average of 97%; 59% was rated good or excellent, the rest fair to very poor.

Minnesota: 97% had set pods by Sept. 2, compared with the five-year average of 98%; 58% was in good or excellent shape, the rest fair to very poor.