One to remember and one to forget
The 2019 cereals harvest is fast deserving of this headline.
When wheat and barley harvest started in early August, reports were coming in quite favorable. Good yield and quality. Barley acres were some of the first to come off and this years' crop was primarily two-row barley.
Two-row barley isn't new to our region, however, the volume of acres certainly were increased this past winter and spring when decisions were being made and malt contracts looked favorable. Two-row barley carries more risk than traditional six-row such as standability and sprout risk being main factors.
Yields are good with the barley this year but quality has become concerning. Many of the two-row acres had harvesting issues with green straw and the barley became quite lodged after too much wind and rain, therefore, the combines were basically crawling through the fields. Some samples are testing positive for sprout damage and while not at high levels, we are hopeful the end product will still make grade.
Wheat had many positive reports as harvest began in the second week of August. We were seeing very good yields, strong test weight and protein levels. Some farms will achieve record yields in hard red spring wheat in our area of northeast North Dakota. Many things contribute to that: Planting date, variety, rainfall, fertility and disease management are all key in high yielding wheat.
Farmers that tried to push fertility with feeding the crop with additional nitrogen during the three to five leaf stage are being rewarded. It is difficult to utilize this practice with many crops being raised in our area and spraying often is the main chore during this window. A few farmers were able to utilize timing the nitrogen application in front of decent rainfall and they are seeing more bushels and protein than our standard management practice.
Now wet weather has greatly slowed wheat harvest. Quality and harvest efficiency have become a serious negative issue. Farmers are receiving quality discounts on an already unfavorable market price for wheat and there are still many acres yet to harvest. Because of the market price, farmers are storing the crop in efforts the discounts and lower prices will change. Thus, "the one to forget."
While filling up gas a couple days ago, a farmer came up to me and those were his words, "I can't wait to forget about this wheat harvest." Protein has been overall quite good so I'm hoping farmers will see some protein premiums in the months ahead.
When will it freeze?
The next issue facing many of the farmers in the Upper Midwest is frost date. For a strong majority, our corn is much behind the historical average, and even some of the soybean acres in our area are behind in maturity and certainly are exposed to maturity risk if we see a frost in the next two weeks.
The long range forecast is looking promising. The row crops in my area appear good.
Edible beans should make maturity with no issues and some of these fields will begin harvesting around the Fordville and Park River, N.D., area. Soybeans are turning mature around Lakota, N.D., as fields begin to change to yellow and tan. But other areas have very green healthy soybeans with pods still developing.
Plant date and lack of heat units are the reason these beans could be at risk with an untimely frost. Corn needs time. I don't watch one field where I'm confident it will make full maturity. Many fields won't be able to handle a killing frost until sometime in October. That's an unlikely favor, but nonetheless it's the favor we are asking for at this time.