OMAHA (DTN) — The Wheat Quality Council’s Hard Spring Wheat and Durum Tour kicked off Tuesday with scouts fanning out across the southern half of North Dakota, southwestern Minnesota and northeast and north-central South Dakota. The annual tour gives the industry a first “hands-on” look at the 2018 spring wheat and durum crop.
Overall, crop scouts visited 138 fields and calculated an average yield of 38.8 bushels per acre (bpa), compared to 207 fields averaging 38.8 bpa last year. Of the fields sampled Tuesday, 135 were spring wheat and 3 were durum. The spring wheat fields alone averaged 38.9 bpa, up from the spring wheat day-one estimate of 37.9 bpa last year.
Dave Green, executive vice president of the Wheat Quality Council, told DTN that his route took him from Fargo into northern South Dakota. He said scouts on his route saw variable wheat conditions and estimated the yield on his car’s 10 stops ranged anywhere from 24 to 48 bushels per acre.
“From the crop ratings we have seen, I would have thought maybe we would have seen slightly better wheat today, but then again we are just one car; maybe others saw better wheat than we did,” Green said.
The wheat is ripening quickly, Green said. Some of the wheat is a week or two from harvest, and some wheat fields were already being harvested, he said. With the wheat already changing colors, he said it is difficult to assess if there were any insect or disease concerns.
“Compared to last year, the wheat in general looks considerably better, as a severe drought affected growth last year,” said Green.
Terry Selleck from Bay State Milling in Winona, Minnesota, told DTN that his route took him south out of Fargo this morning to the Wahpeton area in southeastern North Dakota and then across southern North Dakota. He said he has driven this same route for the last 12 years on the tour.
Selleck said his car average was 36 bushels per acre (bpa), which was 4 bpa less than last year’s car average on day one. The highest yield on his route Tuesday was a field with 50 bpa, while the lowest yield they saw was 25 bpa.
“One thing I did notice today was there were a lot more sunflower fields planted along this route than in past years of going on this route,” Selleck said.
He reported there were very few instances of insects or disease issues. He expected to see some fusarium head blight along the route, but he saw very few signs of the disease, he said.
Selleck said the crop is progressing well in southern North Dakota with most fields in the hard dough stage. He estimated the crop is probably about three weeks from being harvested in mid-August.
On Wednesday, Selleck said, his route will take him north out of Bismarck as all the routes work their way north and east toward Devil’s Lake, the site of Wednesday evening’s meeting.
The tour continues Wednesday with routes covering northwest and north-central North Dakota.