Montana is a big state. But Bing Von Bergen, a veteran Moccasin, Mont., farmer, has connections across it, and he offers this big-picture assessment of Montana's 2020 crops.
"It's looking to be an average crop," he said.
The Upper Midwest is an even bigger place and generalizing about crop conditions in it can be difficult. But the new weekly crop progress report, released June 15 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shows positive conditions overall.
The fledgling crop is most promising in Minnesota and Iowa, where wonderful planting conditions boosted corn and soybeans.. Crop conditions are mixed in South Dakota and Montana, with the outlook in North Dakota less encouraging.
A few examples:
- 85% of Minnesota soybeans is rated good or excellent.
- 83% of Iowa corn is in good or excellent shape.
- 77% of South Dakota corn rates good or excellent.
- 72% of North Dakota corn is rated good or excellent.
The new NASS report, which reflects conditions as of June 14, doesn't include planted acreage for spring wheat. The previous report, issued June 8 and reflecting conditions June 7, estimated that only 85% of North Dakota's spring wheat was in the ground now. It's unclear how many, if any, additional spring wheat acres were planted after June 7 in North Dakota, where cool weather and soggy fields kept some farmers from planting the crop.
Von Bergen, a former president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, farms in the central part of Montana.
He said Montana farmers planted more spring wheat this usual, less winter wheat and pulses. That reflects wet conditions last fall, which hampered winter wheat planting, and exceptionally poor pulse crop prices.
"Crop prices in general are a concern," as are the prices that livestock producers are receiving, he said.
The heavy rains that some areas in Montana received last fall have helped with subsoil moisture this crop season. Even so, much of the state would benefit from moisture sooner than later, he said.
"We're not going to get a great crop this year, but we can get an average one. And we'll take what we can get," he said.
Here's a closer look at crop conditions for spring wheat, corn and soybeans, the region's three major crops, on May 14/
Montana: 84% of the crop was rated good on excellent, with 15% fair and 1% poor.
Minnesota: 88% of spring wheat was in good or excellent shape, with 10 % fair, 1% poor and 1% very poor.
North Dakota: 78% was rated good or excellent, with 19% fair and 3% poor.
South Dakota: 72% was in good or excellent condition, with 27% fair and 1% fair.
Iowa: 83% was in good or excellent shape, with 15% fair and 2% poor.
Minnesota: 84% was rated good or excellent, with 13% fair, 2% fair and 1% poor.
North Dakota: 77% was in good or excellent condition, with 21% fair, 1% poor and 1% very poor.
South Dakota: 72% was rated good or excellent, 27% fair and 1% poor.
Iowa: 82% was rated good or excellent, 17% fair and 1 1% poor.
Minnesota: 84% was in good or excellent condition, with 13% fair, 2% poor and 1% very poor.
North Dakota:- Seventy-four % was in good or excellent shape, with 25 % fair and 1 % very poor.
South Dakota: Seventy-eight % was rated good or excellent, with 20 % fair, 1 % poor and 1 % very poor.