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Row crops are thirsty, but conditions are good overall

Crop conditions continue to look good in the region, as spring wheat harvest nears the finish line in Minnesota and South Dakota and hits full stride in North Dakota and Montana.

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Crop conditions continue to look good in the region, as spring wheat harvest nears the finish line in Minnesota and South Dakota and hits full stride in North Dakota and Montana.

Generally, crops are ahead of schedule and many farmers are happier than they expected with the yields, with lackluster crop prices on their minds. Most farmers in the region are looking for rain to finish the soybean crop, as well as evaluating weed and insect control strategies, according to National Agricultural Statistics reports and Agweek visits to the fields.

Best wheat yet
ASHBY, Minn. - Steven Alvstad says this year’s strong wheat harvest is partly a result of an early start to planting.
“Really dry planting conditions, but we got rain in early May to get the crops up and going,” he says. “We had a cool May, cool June, so the crops progressed pretty slowly, and two big hail events in July.”
Some of the corn in the region was torn up by the hail, and Alvstad has an 80-acre corn field about 4 miles away that got 100 percent hailed out on June 30 and July 12.
“It’s still going to make a crop, but how much, I don’t know,” he says.
This year’s wheat crop was a bumper effort - 70 to 80 bushels per acre.
“Biggest wheat crop I ever had,” Alvstad says.
It was fun to see the yield monitor pop up to 90 bushels an acre on some spots in the field, although Alvstad acknowledges he takes those numbers with “a little grain of salt” because the averages will be lower.
Despite the high yields, quality was excellent - 13 to 13.8 percent protein and 60 pounds per bushel test weight, Alvstad says. Some of the crop was “lodged flat, laying flat on the ground,” he says, so combining was slow-going.
Prices are low, but he is optimistic about making some money, even with reduced commodity prices.

“Gee, if I could get 75-bushel wheat, if we get any kind of fall (price) rally, well maybe I’ll get in on that if I’m lucky.”
His wheat is going into a bin until October, when he’ll remove it to store corn.
The home farm was hit with some a little hail, but another wheat field about 2 miles to the south was 75 percent hailed out.
Soybeans and corn are getting dry on sandier soil. Alvstad says it’s odd to think about the contrast between 2012 and 2013 and $7 per bushel corn, compared with the price today, at $3.20.
“Expenses are still high,” he says.
Aug. 17 state reports from the National Agricultural Statistics Service are as follows.

Minnesota
Minnesota topsoil moisture is rated 83 percent adequate to surplus; subsoil moisture is 86 percent adequate to surplus. Wheat harvest had hit the 78 percent completed mark, far more quickly than the 46 percent average for the date.
Corn is 71 percent in the dough stage, compared with the 52 percent average. Soybeans are 94 percent setting pods, still ahead of the 83 percent average for the state.
Other crop progress reports, compared with five-year averages are barley, 86 percent harvested, 51 percent average; dry beans, 98 percent setting pods, 86 percent average; alfalfa third cutting, 52 percent, no average available; potatoes, 15 percent harvested, 10 percent average.
Crops ratings in the good to excellent categories: corn, 88 percent; soybeans, 80 percent; spring wheat, 80 percent; sugar beets, 85 percent; sunflowers, 64 percent; dry edible beans, 75 percent.

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North Dakota
Hot, dry, windy conditions across much of the state pushed the harvest ahead, but stressed some later-season row crops. Topsoil moisture is rated 59 percent adequate to surplus and subsoil moisture is 69 percent adequate to surplus.
Spring wheat harvest is 45 percent complete, ahead of the 28 percent average. Canola is 19 percent harvested, compared to the 9 percent average.
Corn is 57 percent in the dough stage, compared with 44 percent average. Soybeans are 94 percent setting pods, compared with the 89 percent average.
Other crop progress compared to five-year averages: durum wheat, 13 percent harvested, 12 percent average; barley, 72 percent harvested, 35 percent average; sunflowers, 94 percent blooming, 78 percent average; dry edible beans, 27 percent dropping leaves, 5 percent average; alfalfa, 85 percent second cutting complete, 70 percent average. Stock water supplies are 86 percent adequate to surplus.
Crop conditions in good to excellent categories: spring wheat, 82 percent; corn, 76 percent; soybeans, 74 percent; dry edible beans, 66 percent; sugar beets, 82 percent. Pasture and range conditions are 60 percent good to excellent.

South Dakota
Rain came in the northwest, north- central and eastern portion of the state while the southwest was dry. Topsoil moisture is now rated 65 percent adequate to surplus, while subsoil is 67 percent adequate to surplus.
Spring wheat harvest is 71 percent complete, ahead of the 66 percent average.
Corn is 61 percent in the dough stage, compared with 57 percent average. Soybeans are 80 percent setting pods, just ahead of the 79 percent average.
Other crop progress, compared with average: oats, 88 percent harvested, 84 percent average; barley, 64 percent harvested, 56 percent average; sunflowers, 76 percent blooming, 73 percent average; alfalfa, 21 percent third cutting complete, 32 percent average; sorghum, 89 percent headed, 88 percent average
Crop condition ratings in the good to excellent categories: spring wheat, 63 percent; corn, 76 percent; soybeans, 75 percent average; sunflowers, 70 percent; pasture and range conditions, 59 percent.

Montana
The state had widely variable precipitation the week ending Aug. 15, but topsoil declined only slightly to 48 percent adequate to surplus.
Crop progress compared with a five-year average include: spring wheat, 43 percent harvested, 19 percent average; barley, 62 percent harvested, 30 percent average; canola, 46 percent harvested, 14 percent average; flaxseed, 40 percent harvested, 4 percent average. Cattle and calves and sheep and lambs are 10 percent moved from summer pasture, compared with a 3 percent average for this date.
Crop condition percentages rated in the good to excellent categories: spring wheat, 55 percent; barley, 52 percent; durum wheat, 33 percent; pasture and range, 24 percent.

Related Topics: CROPS
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