October 3, 2008


Wheat production on a boom in the Dakotas

Farmers in the Dakotas (North, South Dakota) are wrapping up one of the best spring and winter wheat harvests in more than a decade with yields that delighted many.


North Dakota's spring wheat production is expected to increase 5 percent from last year to 246 million bushels, the second highest since 1996. North Dakota's all-wheat output figure of 311 million bushels was up 4 percent on-year. Production of winter wheat, the state's minor crop, is projected at a record of 22.6 million bushels, a slight increase from last year's 22.3 million bushels.


South Dakota's spring wheat output surged 31 percent to 68.4 million bushels, also the second highest since 1996, while the state's winter wheat crop registered 104 million bushels with an average yield of 55 bushels per acre. This led to a South Dakota record for production of all wheat, at 172.4 million bushels, up 17 percent from last year.


Durum wheat production in North Dakota is forecast to fall 4 percent to 42.3 million bushels, while South Dakota is expected to produce 190,000 bushels of the crop, an on-year decline of 12 percent.


Increased yields played a huge role in the production of both wheat types, said Randy Englund, executive director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission. Neal Fisher, administrator of the North Dakota Wheat Commission, said the high yields in eastern North Dakota was due to good growing conditions, lack of disease, better plant varieties and management techniques.


"In the central corridor, where the majority of the wheat is produced, we had very good timing of rains. With winter wheat, we also had August rains during planting season the previous fall. We had some tremendous yields," said Englund.


South Dakota's average spring wheat yield increased 6 bushels from last year to 45 bushels per acre. North Dakota's average spring wheat yield grew 2.5 bushels to 38.5 bushels per acre, though some yields in the east were double than that or more.


However, not all farmers in the Dakotas are happy. Farmers in western North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota have had to struggle against dry conditions.


Fisher said verified yield reports in North Dakota ranged from the single digits in the western part of the state to as much as 90 bushels per acre in the east. The high yield in the east has offset the loss incurred by the western part of the state, Fisher said.

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