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Hope for grain producers

Andy Sacks/gettyimages Wheat being harvested
DIFFICULT YEAR: Dan Wogsland of the North Dakota Grain Growers says there is still hope for a high-quality harvest.
Amid drought and poor conditions, wheat quality remains high.

Widespread drought across the Dakotas has created issues for many small-grain producers this growing season.

Dan Wogsland, executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, says harvest is ahead of schedule. “We’re ahead of the statewide average, and there are some very good fields out there,” he says. “You can see a really good field and a really bad field within the same mile.”

Wheat harvest was nearly 20% ahead of the state average. Wogsland says that one of the causes for this quality difference could be contributed to which field received timely rains earlier in the growing season. “What mattered was whether or not you were underneath the shower at the right time,” he says.

Yield expectations

Yields are also going to depend on growing factors across the state. Yields are currently expected to be a third of what was harvested in years past.

“We’re seeing just up and down yields, and you know you have to have a crop in order to make money,” Wogsland says. “I think the wheat harvest is going to be pretty consistent with the quality we’re used to seeing.”

While the dry, hot conditions might have some concerned about quality, Wogsland says it has been consistent this harvest. “One of the consistent things I’ve seen is that the wheat quality has been pretty darn good,” he says.

While crops did mature faster than usual due to the heat conditions, there were issues with emergence. “These guys had some early emergence in areas, and needed that shot of rain to get the rest of it to emerge. So we’ve got these uneven fields that are causing a challenge for these guys coming into harvest,” Wogsland explains.

Less grain in storage

With increased prices seen in the market, there might be less grain being held over. “You know there’s going to be some selling going on; some bins have been opened,” Wogsland says. “Some growers will say, ‘The price is good today, but we think it’s going higher,’ so we’re expecting to see some of that as well.”

Some of those grain bins being opened and stock being sold will lead to less grain in storage when compared to previous years.

More good news for grain growers is the addition of funding into government assistance programs.

“We’re really pleased that Sen. [John] Hoeven was able to put some money in to extend the WHIP program for ’20 and ’21. I think that’s going to be very critical for these folks — again as a stellar example of why we need crop insurance,” he says. “Our weather here is so uncertain. You know there’s the saying that ‘if you don’t like the weather here, just wait a minute,’ and we’ve seen that change time and time again.”

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