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So far, so good, for northwest Minnesota spring wheat crop

“There’s a lot of good looking wheat this year,” said Noel Anderson, sales agronomist for Agri-Max in Fisher, Minnesota, said on the Agweek Cereals Crop Tour.

A man with blue jeans and a red polo shirt stands in a green wheat field.
AgriMAX sales agronomist Noel Anderson estimates spring wheat yields in northwest Minnesota will be average to slightly above average, overall, with some fields producing record yields. This photo was taken in a field northeast of Crookston, Minnesota, on July 18, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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CROOKSTON, Minn. — The northwest Minnesota spring wheat crop in late July looked like it would produce at least average yields, and some fields could even be bin busters, said a crops watcher based in Fisher, Minnesota.

“There’s a lot of good looking wheat this year,” said Noel Anderson, sales agronomist for AgriMAX in Fisher.

Anderson covers an area that extends east to Fosston, Minnesota, north to Warren, Minnesota, and west to just over the North Dakota border.

A green wheat field.
This wheat field northeast of Crookston, Minnesota, was planted May 25, 2022. The photo was taken July 18, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Statewide in Minnesota, spring wheat was 97 percent jointing, 71 percent headed, and 11 percent coloring, as of the week ending July 17, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. The crop was rated 29% fair, 65% good, and 6% excellent, the agency said.

The yield potential of the northwest Minnesota spring wheat crop was a pleasant surprise to Anderson because the cold, wet spring of 2022 had delayed planting by a few weeks

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The field northeast of Crookston in which Anderson was standing on July 18, 2022, for example, was planted on May 25, 2022.

Though planted three weeks later than normal and still grass green, the field in late July was headed out and had a heavy stand.

A hand holds a green wheat head.
AgriMAX sales agronomist Noel Anderson estimated a spring wheat field northeast of Crookston, Minnesota, will yield from 75 to 80 bushels per acre, judging by the number of spikelets on this head of wheat.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

“I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect with the late planting conditions,” Anderson said. It appeared by late July that, based on rough estimates, fields would yield 60- to 80-bushel per acre, he said. Anderson based the estimate by multiplying the number of spikelets on the head by five.

A wheat stalk Anderson pulled near the headland had a head with 16 spikelets, which meant that it had potential for 75- to 80-bushels per acre, Anderson estimated.

Last year, the drought reduced northwest Minnesota spring wheat yields to an average of 30 to 50 bushels per acre, and there also were challenges in 2020, so this year’s crop likely will have the best yield of the past three years.

That, of course, is barring adverse conditions between now and harvest. Harvest of the wheat field northeast of Crookston likely will be during the last week in August, Anderson estimated.

The field of wheat was healthy on July 17 and had not yet been damaged by the hot temperatures of the previous few days. Nighttime temperatures were falling to the low to mid-60s, which allowed the crop to cool off, so Anderson was not concerned about heat stress pushing the wheat to maturity.

A man dressed in a red polo shirt and blue jeans looks at a wheat field.
Noel Anderson, AgriMAX sales agronomist, examines a wheat field northeast of Crookston, Minnesota, on July 18, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

The hot daytime temperatures and high humidity, however, were conducive to development of fusarium head blight, so Anderson had sprayed fungicide on that field and others he is responsible for and was monitoring them.

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“We’re hoping to mitigate that as much as we can,” he said.

Besides fusarium head blight, grasshoppers, which had been seen in ditches and on field headlands, were a concern in some fields.

“Not a catastrophic level in every field, but where they are, they can create an issue,” Anderson said. In 2021, for example, grasshoppers clipped off wheat heads, reducing yields.

The fungicide that was used to spray the wheat fields also contained an insecticide, which should suppress the grasshoppers, he said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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