Wallaces Farmer

Low prices add gloom to harvest.

Bob Burgdorfer 1, Senior Editor, Farm Futures

August 19, 2016

3 Min Read

Rain briefly interrupted the spring wheat harvest in North Dakota this week but combines still made progress cutting fields that frequently yielded 45 to 60 bushels per acre.

Two areas of concerns have been low proteins and low wheat prices. Proteins of 13% to 13.5% were common near Minot in north central North Dakota, versus the preferred 14%. Spot bids for spring wheat ranged from $4.38 near Minot to $4.52 a bushel near the Red River in the east, which some custom harvesters said were so low that farmers were discouraged from harvesting some fields.


“These farmers are bleeding cash,” said harvester Mike Strunk, who was operating near Minot. “They are not in a hurry to cut because it is not worth much.”

Strunk predicted North Dakota farmers next year will plant more corn and soybeans and less spring wheat.

There were instances of lower yields of about 20 bpa on fields that had sunflowers the previous year, which drained soil moisture, said harvester Myron Eberts. Wheat-on-wheat fields were better with 40 to 60 bushel yields. Rain has been scarce in northwest North Dakota, which had many fields relying on stored moisture.

“At Kenmare, they made this crop off of last year’s moisture,” said Eberts.

The custom harvesters said North Dakota’s spring wheat harvest should be completed in one to two weeks.

“Everything is running really good. We had a 1 inch rain the other night, which slowed us down a bit,” said harvester Chad Brink, who was cutting east of Minot. “The wheat is really good this year. There is a lot of 50 to 70 bushels (bpa). We will be here another week or so and then we move to Canada.”

North Dakota is the largest spring wheat producer. USDA currently expects that state’s harvest at 291.4 million bushels, down from last year’s 319.2 million, due to fewer acres of 6.2 million vs 2015’s 6.65 million. USDA put the state’s average yield at 47 bushels versus last year’s 48.

On Monday, USDA said 44% of North Dakota’s spring wheat was harvested compared with 37% a year ago and the 26% average. The total spring wheat harvest was at 48% versus 46% last year and the 30% average.

As of August 14, USDA rated North Dakota’s spring wheat 71% good to excellent, however, it lowered the overall spring wheat crop to 66% good to excellent from 68%, with declines in Idaho, Minnesota and Montana.

Aug. 12, 2016 - Wheat Harvest 2016 - Average spring wheat found in North Dakota

Aug. 5, 2016 - Wheat Harvest 2016 - Much of the crop not ready for harvest

July 22, 2016 - Wheat Harvest 2016 - Combines start spring wheat in South Dakota

July 18, 2016 - Wheat Harvest 2016 - Big yields in South Dakota

July 8, 2016 - Wheat Harvest 2016 - Yields remain high, test weights slip

July 1, 2016 - Wheat Harvest 2016 - Rain slows progress

June 24, 2016 - Wheat Harvest 2016 - Big, healthy crop in Kansas

June 17, 2016 - Wheat Harvest 2016 - Good yields, test weights, in Kansas, Oklahoma

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