Spring wheat harvest in the northern Plains has been slow as many fields are just now becoming ripe and for other fields it may be late August before they are ready, custom harvesters said this week.
In western North Dakota, the fields that have been cut yielded 20 to 40 bushels per acre.
“We cut some 30 bushels (per acre) the other day, but I would say 20 to 25 would catch most of it,” said harvester Chad Brink. Brink was operating east of Minot, N.D.
The grain quality was good, with test weights of about 61 lbs and protein content of 14.5% to 15%. “That has been a pleasant surprise,” he said.
Near Wilton, just north of Bismarck, N.D., harvester Shorty Kulhanek said it will be a few days before much of the spring wheat is ready to cut. He relayed reports of early harvested fields yielding about 30 bpa.
“The proteins were good, some 15% to 17%, so that is the positive side of it,” he said.
Harvester Myron Eberts finished spring wheat harvesting near Dickinson in southwest North Dakota and will move to the northern end of the state by next week. Yields near Dickinson ranged from 10 to 25 bpa with proteins of 14% to 16%, he said.
West of Minot, harvester Mike Strunk reported pockets of spring wheat that yielded about 40 bpa, but otherwise yields were lower. Strunk also had a harvest crew in near Chester in north-central Montana, where the spring wheat was a few days away from being ready for harvest.
In eastern Montana, other harvesters have focused on durum until the spring wheat ripens. The durum produced 20 to 21 bushels per acre on fields that had 40 to 50 bpa in recent years.
Harvesters continue to report fewer fields to cut this year as farmers planted less wheat. Also the drought-reduced production has many farmers cutting much of their own wheat to cut costs.
“It is not a lot of fun being a custom harvester this year,” said Brink.
On Thursday, USDA estimated North Dakota’s spring wheat yield at 36 bushels per acre with production at 185.76 million bushels versus last year’s 46 bpa and 269.1 million. Montana’s spring wheat was forecast to yield 22 bpa and produce 46.6 million versus last year’s 36 bpa and nearly 76 million bushels.
As of August 6, USDA said 24% of the U.S. spring wheat was harvested. In North Dakota, 16% was cut versus the 17% five-year average and in Montana 33% was cut versus the 11% average. North Dakota’s crop was rated 33% good to excellent and Montana’s 9%, compared with 71% and 66%, respectively, a year ago.