By Katie Micik
DTN Markets Editor
BISMARCK, N.D. (DTN) -- Tour scouts saw a spring wheat crop with high yield potential and little disease pressure on their first day of scouting in southern North Dakota.
The Wheat Quality Council's Hard Red Spring Wheat tour's first day yield averaged 48.1 bushels per acre, higher than last year's 43.5 bpa. That estimate includes both spring and winter wheat varieties. The average for spring wheat yield from 156 fields was calculated at 48.3 bpa, compared to 43.3 bpa from last year. Scouts measured six winter wheat fields with an average yield of 42.9.
"This is the biggest day one average we've seen over the last five years," said Ben Handcock, executive director of the Wheat Quality Council, which hosts the tour.
Scouts reported spring wheat is about a month to six weeks away from harvest, with crops in the western parts of the state closer to maturity than wheat in the eastern part of the state. Yields also generally improved as scouts drove toward Bismarck, N.D. However, the two routes that scouted west of North Dakota's capitol reported lower average yields due to dry conditions and late planting.
Scouts reported some lodging and a little hail damage due to Mondays night's thunderstorms, but added that stems weren't broken, so those plants will likely rebound.
Handcock's route went through northern South Dakota, and his car average yield was the highest of the day at 65.5 bpa. His car scouted 12 fields with the highest yield estimate coming in at 92.8 bpa and the lowest at 40.8 bpa.
Reid Christopherson, executive director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission, said his state's wheat looks "excellent, very good, if we can get through the next few weeks and get it in the bin."
Winter wheat harvest started last week he said and should begin in the next week or two in the Pierre, S.D., area.
The winter wheat crops scouted in North Dakota appear to be one to three weeks from harvest.
The spring wheat in eastern North Dakota showed signs of being planted late and into wet fields. Scouts saw uneven stands, consistent green coloration and slightly delayed maturity. The car average yields on routes that traveled through central North Dakota were closer to previous years and averages than cars that traveled further south or west.
Steve Mercer, communications director for U.S. Wheat Associates, said his car seems to be one of the only ones to see wheat that wasn't great. His car scouted the area west of Bismarck.
"In Stark County, two fields were in the flag leaf stage and then the next field we saw was maturing spring wheat," he said, adding that variety and planting time probably played a big factor. "We saw a lot of prevented planting, but a lot of variablility." Most of the wheat on his route was still flowering.
His car's average yield was the lowest day one total at 34 bpa with a high of 50 bpa and a low of 16.5.
"With some of those flag leaf stage fields, who knows what'll happen."
Katie Micik can be reached at Katie.email@example.com
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