Spring wheat yields were projected to decline this year in the southern half of North Dakota as a late start to the planting season and excessive moisture stressed the crop, allowing diseases to thrive, crop scouts on an annual tour found.
Huge pools of standing water covered large swaths of farmland across the state, submerging fields of corn, hay and hard red spring wheat.
Crop scouts observed 154 fields of spring wheat July 26, the first day of the annual tour run by the Wheat Quality Council, and diseases such as scab were observed in many of the fields, likely taking the edge off the top of what already is forecast to be the smallest spring wheat crop in five years.
Yields were projected at 39.5 bushels per acre for the southern half of the state, down sharply from the average of 43.1 bpa on the first day of last year’s tour.
However, yields were up modestly from the tour’s five-year average of about 38.7 bpa.
USDA recently also increased so-called good-to-excellent ratings by three percentage points and some scouts pointed to that as a sign of optimism even as flood waters remained in many farm fields.
“We knew we had a good crop based on condition ratings but it definitely was not as good as other years,” said Jim Peterson, marketing director at the North Dakota Wheat Commission.