South central North Dakota wheat yields seen above average

GLEN ULLIN, N.D., (Reuters) – Wheat yield potential in south central North Dakota is trending above average, with the crop benefiting from ideal weather following a wet spring that delayed planting, scouts on annual tour found on Tuesday.

“This is really good wheat for out here,” said Dave Green, executive vice president of the Wheat Quality Council, which runs the tour. “I think everything looks good for being so late.”

North Dakota is the biggest U.S. producer of spring wheat, which is used to make artisanal breads, pizza dough and bagels. Spring wheat can also be blended with lesser grades of wheat to improve flour quality.

Spring wheat makes up about a quarter of total U.S. wheat production.

Yields along one route of the Wheat Quality Council’s annual tour of the state were pegged at 38.6 bushels per acre (bpa), based on the average of six fields surveyed in Stutsman, Morton and Stark counties. A year ago, the tour projected yields on the same route at 34.7 bpa. The five-year average is 33.8 bpa.

On another route farther east that went through Cass and Barnes counties, scouts calculated yield prospects of 50.0 bpa, up from 40.3 bpa a year ago and the five-year average of 48.0 bpa.

Some evidence of scab was noted, likely due to the overly wet conditions much of the crop was seeded in.

A third route, which also pulled samples in Cass and Barnes counties, estimated the average yield from four fields at 71.0 bpa, well above the 30.6 bpa average for the route last year and the route’s average of 42.7 bpa.

MGEX spring wheat futures were up slightly at midday on Tuesday, supported by technical buying and improving demand from Asian flour millers but capped by good yield prospects for the U.S. spring crop.

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Monday afternoon said the North Dakota spring wheat crop was rated 76 percent good to excellent as of July 21, an above-average rating that was unchanged from a week earlier and in line with market expectations.

Sixty-two crop scouts are on the 2019 tour, which will release final yield forecasts on Thursday. The roster included representatives from the milling and baking industries, along with government and university experts.

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