Good crops especially welcome this year as region grapples with tough conditions
Harvest progress is slow in some parts of the region, but agriculturalists are making good progress in many areas.
Ryan McCormick always appreciates good crops. But the strong harvest he enjoyed this fall is particularly welcome because he knows many other farmers in the region weren't as fortunate.
"We feel blessed with the crops we had," said the Kremlin, Mont., farmer who wrapped up harvest in early September.
Many farmers elsewhere, especially in Iowa and parts of North Dakota and South Dakota, aren't doing as well, according to the weekly crop progress report released Sept. 8 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report reflected conditions on Sept. 6.
Drought and the aftermath of destructive high winds in mid-August continue to ravage crops in much of Iowa. More than half of both corn and soybeans were rated fair, poor or very poor on Sept. 6; a month ago, crop conditions were much better.
Drought has begun doing serious damage to some corn and soybeans in South Dakota, too.
North Dakota remains a trouble spot, with much of the state still suffering from the consequences of uncooperative weather last fall and this spring. And the state's wheat harvest remains behind schedule, though not as much as it had been.
Combining of spring wheat is slightly ahead of the five-year average in Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana.
McCormick, who this year raised spring wheat, winter wheat, durum and yellow mustard in north-central Montana, is well aware that many of his fellow farmers to the east have had production problems.
In contrast, yields in his area generally were good. Plentiful subsoil moisture going into the growing season helped, as did favorable late-summer weather.
"We had good crops. We know a lot of people didn't. So we're fortunate," he said.
Here's a look at spring wheat, corn and soybeans, the region's three major crops, as well as barley. Remember, statewide averages can mask big variations within a state. All figures are for Sept. 6.
Montana — 84% of the crop was harvested, compared with the five-year average of 83%.
Minnesota — 94% was combined, compared with the five-year average of 92%.
North Dakota — 76% was harvested, down from the five-year average of 86%. Note that the five-year average was brought down by an exceptionally slow harvest pace in 2019; just 63% of spring wheat was harvested at the same time a year earlier.
South Dakota — 97% was combined, up from the five-year average of 95%.
Iowa — Just 43% was rated good or excellent, with 31% fair and 26% poor or very poor.
Minnesota — 78% was in good or excellent condition, with 16% fair and 6% poor or very poor.
North Dakota — 63% was in good or excellent shape, with 25% fair and 12% poor or very poor.
South Dakota — 68% was rated good or excellent, 22% fair and 10% poor or very poor.
Minnesota — 79% was in good or excellent condition, with 16% fair and 5% poor or very poor.
North Dakota — 64% was rated good or excellent, with 24% fair and 12% poor or very poor.
South Dakota — 66% was in good or excellent condition, with 22% fair and 12% poor or very poor.
Iowa — Just 47% was in good or excellent shape, with 33% fair and 20% poor or very poor.
North Dakota — 87% was harvested, compared with the five-year average of 91%.
Minnesota — 96% was combined, compared with the five-year average of 98%.
Montana — 86% was harvested, compared with the five-year average of 87%.