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Too Early to Assess Wheat Quality with Slow Harvest
USAgNet - 08/14/2019

The U.S. hard red spring wheat harvest progress remains sluggish, due to slow crop ripening and unfavorable harvest weather. As of Sunday, just 8 percent was harvested, up from 2 percent the previous week, but well behind the 2018 and 5-year average pace of nearly one-third complete. Harvest progress is most advanced in South Dakota with 16 percent completed, followed by Montana at 10 percent, Minnesota at 8 percent and North Dakota at 5 percent. Heavy rains in some parts of the region in recent days, and forecasts for isolated thunderstorms with cooler than normal temperatures through the early part of this week will likely keep progress at a slow pace in the short term.

Crop condition ratings slipped slightly with 69 percent rated good to excellent compared to 73 percent the previous week, and 75 percent a year ago. All states with the exception of Minnesota showed marginal declines in crop ratings during the past week, but yield prospects remain strong in much of the region. USDA's August production forecast estimated yields to be equal to or higher than 2018 yields in all states, and the national yield up 2 percent from last year. Producers in parts of the region impacted by recent heavy rains and hail are expressing concerns about potential yield losses. A return to drier conditions with more typical August temperatures would certainly be welcomed to advance harvest. It is too early to get a good assessment of harvest quality due to the limited harvest in most areas. While producers are concerned about the impact of recent rains on crop quality, the delayed crop maturity and slow ripening pace is a positive in minimizing impacts.

Harvest of the U.S. northern durum crop has begun, with 1 percent harvested in North Dakota and 3 percent in Montana. This remains well behind the typical pace for this date of roughly 15 percent. In North Dakota, nearly 90 percent of the crop has started to turn color and nearly 80 percent in Montana is turning color. The bulk of harvest is not expected until late August into early September, and that will be dependent on warmer temperatures and drier conditions.

Crop ratings for North Dakota's durum crop improved slightly this past week, pegged at 75 percent good to excellent and only 3 percent poor to very poor, compared to 69 percent good to excellent and 7 percent poor to very poor. In Montana, crop conditions declined slightly to 71 percent good to excellent, down from 77 percent the previous week. Crop yield prospects are above average in both states with USDA's August report indicating 5 to 10 percent higher yields than a year ago. USDA is estimating North Dakota's durum yield at a record high of 42 bushels per acre, with Montana at 33.

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