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Wet Fields Worry U. S. Farmers

Persistently soggy wheat fields in the U. S. Northern Plains are keeping farmers waiting – and worrying – about when, or if, they would be able to start planting the 2009 Hard Red Spring wheat crop.

Historic flooding triggered by early-spring melting of snow and ice have literally swamped farmers throughout North Dakota, the chief U. S. producer of Hard Red Spring wheat, and in parts of neighbouring Minnesota, making it impossible for many farmers to start seasonal planting of the key milling crop.

“I have never seen so much water,” said David Clough, who grows wheat and soybeans outside Fessenden, North Dakota. “I’ve been farming for over 40 years and I’ve never seen it this wet.”

The Red River, which dissects North Dakota and Minnesota, rose to its highest level in 112 years in late March after accumulated snow and ice started to melt.

The U. S. Department of Agriculture reported April 13 that only two per cent of the new U. S. spring wheat crop had been planted as April 12 due to the wet conditions. That compares with eight per cent a year ago and a five-year average of 11 per cent.

North Dakota and Minnesota, typical l y top U. S. spring wheat-producing states, had no spring wheat yet planted at all, according to USDA. Washington, which led all states with 30 per cent planted, was still lagging last year’s pace of 44 per cent.

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