Wheat Tour: Durum Crops in North Dakota and Montana Continue to Struggle With Lack of Soil Moisture

July 29, 2008 07:00 PM
Tanner Ehmke, AgWeb
(Stanley, N.D.) - Durum yield potential in northeast Montana and far northwestern North Dakota is substantially lower than last year due to ongoing drought conditions, crop scouts on the Wheat Quality Council's Hard Spring Wheat and Durum Tour said.
Surveyors on the farthest western route of the tour estimated the durum crop in the examined area at 13.0 bushels per acre on a sampling of eight fields in four counties in North Dakota and Montana. Harvest for most durum fields was estimated to be within 1-2 weeks.
Last year the tour calculated the North Dakota durum yield at 28.8 bushels/acre, but this is the first year for tour surveyors to follow this route into Montana. No spring wheat or winter wheat fields were examined.
After coming off a dry winter with the dryness continuing into spring and summer, the lack of subsoil moisture has been the prevailing problem limiting crop potential in the area, tour participants said.
Louis Kuster, producer with the North Dakota Wheat Commission, said the maturity of North Dakota and Montana's durum crops was pushed due to the drought, which ultimately has compromised the crop's yield potential despite cooler growing conditions earlier in the season.
Outside of finding a few of instances of wheat stem maggot, smut, ergot and tan spot, Kuster said, little insect pressure was noted in both North Dakota and Montana.
Lynn Brodal, North Dakota producer with the U.S. Durum Growers Association, said yield on his farm in Burke County will also be below average due to the drought. Other problems, though, have been fairly limited.
"There's been no leaf disease because it's been so dry,” Brodal said.
The tour will convene this evening in Devils Lake, N.D. to report samples taken from the western and north-central regions of North Dakota. A yield estimate for the region will also be reported later this evening.
Thursday, the tour will span across the remaining central and eastern regions of North Dakota and the northwestern portion of Minnesota and will finish in Fargo, N.D. where the tour will report its final findings and a forecast for the North Dakota crop. 

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