| MAX, North Dakota, July 24
MAX, North Dakota, July 24 Spring wheat yield
prospects in northwestern North Dakota are lower than they were
a year ago but still better than average, scouts on an annual
crop tour of the top U.S. spring wheat state said on Wednesday.
Much of the crop in the area was seeded later than usual,
and because of its delayed development, the crop will need good
weather in the next few weeks to reach its full potential.
Scouts on one leg of the Wheat Quality Council's annual
spring wheat tour projected yields of 47.9 bushels per acre,
based on surveys of six fields in McLean and Ward counties.
In 2012, the average forecast on the same route was 51.0
bushels per acre. The tour's five-year average is 45.9 bushels
"It just needs time," said Ben Handcock, executive vice
president of the Wheat Quality Council and leader of the tour.
"A lot can happen during the three, four or five weeks until
Scouts did see some fields that farmers were unable to
plant, likely due to wet soils, but the empty acreage was less
than expected. Farmers planted in fits and starts during the
spring due to rainy weather that forced them to keep their
tractors parked in equipment sheds.
The uneven pace of planting led to a wide range of
development in the wheat surveyed by the scouts. In some fields,
the wheat was just flowering, while the crop was in the milk and
soft dough stages elsewhere.
Northern areas suffered from the cold and damp spring more
than other parts of the state. Some fields still had snow in
them at the beginning of May.
Scouts on another route farther east forecast yields of 45
bushels per acre, compared with 52.0 bushels per acre a year
earlier and the five-year average of 45.9 bushels per acre.
Yields on a third route, which ran farther west and included
Mountrail and Burke counties, were pegged at 55.3 bushels per
acre, above the tour's 2012 average for that route of 42.2
bushels per acre.
The U.S. Agriculture Department has forecast North Dakota's
spring wheat harvest at 229.6 million bushels this year, with an
average yield of 41 bushels an acre. Spring wheat makes up about
a quarter of the total U.S. wheat crop.
Scouts surveyed 195 fields in southern North Dakota on
Tuesday and projected an average yield of 43.3 bushels per acre,
up from 42.9 in 2012 and above the five-year average of 41.7.
Veteran scouts said they expected that routes in the southern
areas would be the best-yielding in the state.
The three-day spring wheat tour kicked off on Tuesday in
Fargo. A record 75 participants are scouting fields across North
Dakota as well as western Minnesota and northern South Dakota.
This year's participants include farmers, market analysts,
grain buyers, government statisticians and officials from food
companies such as Kraft Foods Group Inc and General
After surveying northern and northwest North Dakota on
Wednesday, scouts will head to the eastern portion of the state
on Thursday, taking samples from the fertile Red River Valley
before concluding the tour back in Fargo.
The Wheat Quality Council will give a final average yield
estimate for the region's hard red spring wheat and durum crops
on Thursday afternoon.
Hard red spring wheat is a high-protein crop used to make
flour for bread and pizza dough. Durum is a key ingredient in