(Fargo, N.D.) – The Wheat Quality Council's Hard Spring Wheat and Durum Tour
estimates North Dakota's 2008 all-wheat yield at 36.0 bushels/acre
, down from last year's tour estimate of 36.6 bushels per acre but an increase from last year's official yield of 35.7 bushels/acre.
The spring wheat yield was figured at 37.7 bushels/acre based on a survey of 346 fields, and the durum yield was pegged at 23.7 bushels/acre on 58 inspected fields. Eighteen winter wheat fields were also surveyed over the 3-day tour with yield forecast at 43.0 bushels/acre.
The crop tour's estimate was announced Thursday afternoon at the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo following three days of more than 50 tour participants surveying 422 fields across North Dakota and the edges of neighboring Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota.
Carrol Duerr, tour participant and manager of the Colfax Farmers Elevator in Colfax, N.D., said he was impressed with the numbers that the tour came out with.
"I think they're really positive for the inventory that will be available for the market," Duerr said, adding that with the forecast on yield holding nearly steady with last year, production would be up due to the increase in acres planted to wheat and durum. National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates 8.595 million acres in North Dakota were planted to wheat and durum this year, up from 8.405 million last year.
Although the durum crop will be an issue this year because of the drought in the western regions of North Dakota, Duerr added, the healthy prospects of the eastern regions will hopefully make up for any shortfall in the west.
Crop conditions as reported NASS's Crop Progress report earlier this week showed the North Dakota spring crop in overall worse shape than last year with 54 percent of the spring crop rated good-to-excellent, compared to 82 percent good-to-excellent for the corresponding week last year. More than half of the topsoil moisture in the the state is rated short-to-very short, according to the latest North Dakota Crop, Livestock & Weather Report.
Tour participants also said quality could be an issue due to the expected small harvests in the west. Due to the ongoing dryness and the lack of subsoil moisture, wheat plants will produce smaller kernels that will ultimately have low test weights and will be undesirable for flour millers.
"If the flour extraction is too low, some wheat will certainly get used for livestock feed," Duerr said.
North Dakota is the largest producer of both hard spring and durum wheat in the U.S., and last year produced a total of 300.1 million bushels, surpassing Kansas as the largest all-wheat producer in the U.S.
Read more on AgWeb's coverage of this week's crop tour: