Halfway through harvest in the Upper Midwest
Completing the small grains harvest is the halfway point in the region's long harvest season. Next up: later-maturing crops such as corn and soybeans
The annual Upper Midwest crop harvest begins as early as July and often ends in December or even later. Now, harvest has passed the halfway mark, with small grains harvest wrapping up in much of the region and harvest of corn and soybeans under way.
In South Dakota, where farmers have virtually finished with wheat, "They're going on corn and soybeans," said Reid Christopherson, executive director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission.
The weekly crop progress report, reflecting conditions Sept. 20 and released Sept. 21 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. found that the Upper Midwest harvest overall continues to make progress.
Favorable weather helped. During the week ending Sept. 20, both Minnesota and Iowa had 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork, Montana 7 days, North Dakota 6.8 days and South Dakota 6.7 days. The average in each state was up substantially from the week ending Sept. 13.
The spring wheat harvest isn't finished, especially not in North Dakota, where uncooperative weather delayed planting this spring. But farmers in the state made progress, with 95% of spring wheat combined on Sept. 20 up from 90% a week earlier. The 95% rate on Sept. 20 was the same as the five-year average, though the latter is skewed by an exceptionally late harvest in 2019.
Just 1% percent of spring wheat was still in fields in both Montana and South Dakota with 5% of Montana spring wheat still unharvested. The Montana figure is ahead of the five-year average of 93% for that date.
South Dakota spring wheat farmers got a relatively early start on harvest this year. Yields weren't great — some parts of the state were very dry at times — but good subsoil moisture helped the state to harvest an average of 45 bushels of spring wheat, about 2 bushels better than a year ago, Christopherson said.
South Dakota raises spring wheat and winter wheat in roughly equal measure. Wheat farmers in the state now are focusing on planting winter wheat: 36% of the state's crop was planted on Sept. 20, up slightly from the five-year average for that date.
"So we're making progress on the winter wheat," Christopherson said.
Most of the region's farmers are focused on harvest, however, and the just-beginning second half of the area's crop harvest is near or slightly ahead of its five-year average.
Here's a look at corn and soybeans, which along with spring wheat are the region's three major crops, as well as sugar beets and sorghum. All numbers are for Sept. 20.
Iowa — 4% of the state's crop was harvested, up from the five-year average of 2%.
Minnesota — 1% of the crop was combined, the same as the five-year average.
North Dakota — 3% was harvested, up from the five-year average of 1%.
South Dakota — 5% was harvested, up from the five-year average of 2%.
Minnesota — 7% of the crop was combined, the same as the five-year average.
North Dakota — 8% of the crop was harvested, up from the five-year average of 7%.
South Dakota — 5% of the crop was combined, up from the five-year average of 4%.
Iowa — 7% was harvested, up from the five-year average of 2%.
North Dakota — 12% was harvested, the same as the five-year average.
Minnesota — 14% was harvested, up from the five-year average of 11%.
South Dakota farmers had harvested 4%, up from the five-year average of 2%.