VOLGA, S.D. — The kickoff of the 2020 Agweek Cereal Crop Tour was a tale of two wheat crops in South Dakota.

The winter wheat harvest is around a third completed in South Dakota, and so far, yield results have been well above last year and above average. Jack Ingemansen is superintendent of South Dakota State University’s Foundation Seed Stock and overseas seed plots around the state. He says harvest has picked up in the last two weeks from their network of seed growers.

South Dakota’s spring wheat may only be an average crop this year due to hot conditions. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
South Dakota’s spring wheat may only be an average crop this year due to hot conditions. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
“Anywhere from the mid-80s to up into 100 bushel per acre is what we’re expecting in some areas. We started harvesting this week here in the Brookings area and we were at mid-70s, which is actually pretty good for our crop as wet as we were and we got hot and dry, too,” he says.

Jack Ingemansen is superintendent of South Dakota State University’s Foundation Seed Stock and overseas seed plots around the state. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
Jack Ingemansen is superintendent of South Dakota State University’s Foundation Seed Stock and overseas seed plots around the state. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
That is 20 to 25 bushels per acre better than last year as the state’s crop was too wet early, which inhibited yield potential.

The quality of this year’s winter wheat crop in South Dakota is mixed, with favorable test weights on the early reports, but protein is another story.

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“Obviously the protein levels with the high yields are going to be down. We haven’t seen any data come in yet, though, as we’re just getting started with our test plots,” Ingemansen says.

While winter wheat yields in South Dakota in 2020 are above-average, yields for spring wheat in all but the north central part of the state are expected to be down. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
While winter wheat yields in South Dakota in 2020 are above-average, yields for spring wheat in all but the north central part of the state are expected to be down. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
Pest problems have been minimal in the crop, especially in the disease pressure.

“We got some heat, so we got rid of the stripe rust which is usually a problem with winter wheat,” he adds.

In contrast to the winter wheat, South Dakota’s spring wheat may only be an average crop this year with yields mostly 50 to 60 bushels per acre, according to Jon Kleinjan, SDSU Extension crop production associate.

Jon Kleinjan, SDSU Extension Crop Production Associate. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
Jon Kleinjan, SDSU Extension Crop Production Associate. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
“We just got too much heat. I wouldn’t say everywhere in the state maybe Highway 212 south. You know spring wheat really doesn’t like it if it gets above 75 degrees and we’ve had a pretty good run of 85 to 90-degree temperatures,” he says.

One exception is in the north-central part of the state, where Kleinjan says growers tell him they are going to have their best crop ever, but they didn’t get the heat early, and when they did, the reproductive stage was already complete.

Spring wheat harvest will start in the next week and Kleinjan says protein levels will likely be higher with the lower yields.

Though yield in spring wheat is expected to be down across most of South Dakota, protein is forecast to be high. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
Though yield in spring wheat is expected to be down across most of South Dakota, protein is forecast to be high. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
“I would say in the 14% to 15% level, maybe touching 16% on some of it,” he estimates. Pest problems have also been minimal with this crop, with just the northeast corner of the state seeing some fields with scab pressure.

Spring wheat acreage was up in South Dakota this spring after a record year for prevented planting acres in 2019.

“We did rebound some," Kleinjan says. "The report I saw we’re up to 850,000 acres of spring wheat which is 33% more than last year, but remember last year it was so wet we were at an all-time low.”