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Planting remains at a standstill in Upper Midwest

Planting remained nearly at a standstill across the region last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly Crop Progress report. While off the pace of the five-year average, progress is similar to last year's slow start. The r...

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Planting remained at a standstill in most of the Upper Midwest in the week ending April 21, 2019. (Erin Brown/Grand Vale Creative)
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Planting remained nearly at a standstill across the region last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly Crop Progress report.

While off the pace of the five-year average, progress is similar to last year's slow start.

The report, released Tuesday, April 23, reflects conditions from April 15-21.

For the week ending April 21, North Dakota had only 1.6 days that were suitable for fieldwork, coming after the week prior where only 0.7 days were suitable for fieldwork. South Dakota and Minnesota were worse off, with only 0.8 and 0.5 days, respectively, last week and .1 day for both states the week prior. Montana's weather was slightly more suitable, with 4.8 days last week and 3.6 days the week before.

In North Dakota, producers had made no progress on any of the crops listed on the report: spring wheat, sugar beets, corn, oats and barley. On the five-year average, North Dakota farmers have planted 24% of their spring wheat, 25% of their sugar beets, 1% of corn, 10% of oats and 8% of barley by the third week in April.

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Minnesota farmers had a slightly better showing last week than their neighbors to the west. While they hadn't planted any corn, sugar beets or barley, they had planted 4% of their oats. Usually, Minnesota farmers have planted 11% of their corn, 33% of their sugar beets, 29% of their oats and 16% of their barley by the third week of April.

South Dakota farmers had planted 3% of their oats and 2% of their spring wheat but hadn't started yet on corn. On average, South Dakota has 48% of oats, 47% of spring wheat and 3% of corn planted by the same point.

Soybean planting typically does not start yet in the region, making the lack of progress on that crop normal in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Montana farmers took advantage of their better conditions, going from 1% of spring wheat planted on April 14 to 10% on April 21 and from 2% of barley planted on April 14 to 11% by April 21. That's still off the average pace of 20% for spring wheat and 27% for barley.

Last year, very little planting had occurred across the four states by April 21. It took until May until conditions turned around and farmers were able to catch up.

On the positive side, winter wheat conditions as of April 21 were generally good in Montana and South Dakota. In Montana, winter wheat is 1% poor, 11% fair, 57% good and 31% excellent. In South Dakota, winter wheat is 2% poor, 45% fair, 51% good and 2% excellent. Plus, moisture conditions are at least adequate in the majority of the region.

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