The second day of the tour saw a total of 191 fields examined by more than 50 crop scouts fanning out north and westward from Mandan, N.D. and into Montana with 134 spring wheat fields tested.
Tour participants noted that the drought stress in western North Dakota and northeastern Montana has had a noticeable effect on yield potential while conditions farther east in the central areas of North Dakota have faired far better.
"It's not a block buster crop, but it's not a disaster either,” one crop scout said of the spring wheat crop in north-central North Dakota. "I think there's enough good wheat there to balance the drought in the west.”
The durum yield estimate came in at 23.3 bushels/acre, which is below last year's tour average of 28.8 bushels/acre. This year's tour, though, also included inspections of the northeastern Montana durum crop where drought stress has been particularly bad. A total of 54 durum fields were inspected on the second day of the tour.
While insect and disease pressure was mostly regarded as minimal, the effects of drought stress will have a noticeable effect on yield, tour participants said.
"The durum crop wasn't what I expected,” said one field surveyor. "I heard it was bad, but it's worse than what we predicted.”
A number of fields have a high likelihood of being abandoned with producers expected to collect insurance money instead of harvesting the crop, scouts said. Virtually all of western North Dakota's soil moisture is currently rated short to very short by USDA.
Local producers also said date of planting had a huge effect on yield potential in the dry western regions, according to scouts on the tour.
"The guys who did early seeding when it was dry are, on average, doing better than the guys who planted late,” one tour participant said.
Thursday, the tour will finish out its field surveys of the northeastern section of North Dakota and the western edge of Minnesota before convening in Fargo, N.D., in the afternoon where a final North Dakota crop estimate will be reported.