Spring wheat planting off to a slow start

BakingBusiness.com, April 19, 2011
by Jay Sjerven

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Spring wheat planting was under way in South Dakota, Montana and across the Pacific Northwest, but progress lagged the average pace for the date in each state, according to state Crop Progress and Condition reports issued April 11. At the same time, farmers in North Dakota and Minnesota waited for floodwaters to subside and soggy soil to dry out with spring planting in those states expected to begin later than normal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s North Dakota field office on April 10 indicated the average starting date for fieldwork in the state this year was expected to be April 29. This date was 11 days later than last year and eight days behind the recent five-year average starting date. The U.S.D.A. office said the expected starting dates across the state ranged from April 25 in the south central district to May 6 in the northeast district.

The latest average statewide starting date for fieldwork in North Dakota in the last 10 years was May 2 in 2009. The earliest average statewide starting date was April 14 in both 2003 and 2004.

No Minnesota spring wheat was planted by April 10. On the same date last year 9% was planted, and the recent five-year average planting progress for the date was 2%.

“A second round of flooding was under way in Minnesota rivers and tributaries,” the U.S.D.A. said. “This spring’s flood threat was magnified by high moisture in the soil after back-to-back wet years and near record winter snowfall...A few reporters noted that soil is still too wet for fieldwork, and more warm, dry weather is needed to melt remaining frost, raise soil temperatures and dry out soils before fieldwork can begin.”

The U.S.D.A. said Minnesota producers expected full-scale fieldwork to begin on April 25, four days behind the five-year average.

South Dakota spring wheat was 3% planted on April 10 compared with 5% on the same date last year and 4% as the recent five-year average for the date. The U.S.D.A.’s South Dakota field office said, “Spring is slowly creeping in with warmer temperatures melting most of the remaining snow. Small grain planting is beginning, but some producers are still having trouble with flooding resulting in road closures and roads that are too soft for heavy equipment.”

Montana spring wheat was 1% planted on April 10 compared with 6% a year earlier and 5% as the five-year average, and Colorado spring wheat was 15% planted compared with 12% a week earlier, 13% a year earlier and 18% as the average.

The Idaho spring wheat crop was 18% planted compared with 18% a year earlier and 23% as the average for the date. The Washington crop was 30% planted compared with 16% a week earlier, 62% around the same date last year and 42% as the average. The Oregon crop was 41% planted compared with 25% a week earlier, 85% a year ago and 67% as the average.

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