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Drought Pushing Durum Development Ahead of Normal
North Dakota Ag Connection - 08/09/2017

Harvest of the 2017 U.S. hard red spring wheat crop reached 24 percent complete as of Sunday, slightly ahead of the 5-year average but behind the 2016 pace of 27 percent. Progress is most advanced across southern and western parts of the region, due to maturity, and also driven by greater than normal abandonment (acres not harvested for grain) levels in drought stricken areas. South Dakota harvest progress advanced to 65 percent complete, up nearly 20 percentage points for the week, and well ahead of the 5-year average of 45 percent. Progress was the greatest across Montana, moving from 5 percent harvested the last week of July to more than one-third complete on Sunday. This is well ahead of the typical pace for this date. In North Dakota, harvest is pegged at 16 percent complete, in line with the 5 year average and 2016 pace. Minnesota's spring wheat harvest is at 9 percent complete, well behind the 2016 pace of 38 percent and the 5 year average of 29 percent. Rain showers and below average temperatures, along with less drought impact on the crop is slowing harvest progress across eastern parts of the region.

Early harvest reports show below to much below average yields across western areas, but high protein levels. In eastern areas, yields are average to above average, although below the exceptional yields attained the last couple of years. Protein levels in those areas are average to slightly above average with very good test weights and kernel color.

The overall condition rating of the U.S. crop is essentially unchanged from the last week in July with roughly one-third rated good to excellent, 43 percent poor to very poor and one-fourth in fair condition. Recent rains and cooler temperatures led to a slight bump up in the condition rating for the North Dakota crop, offsetting slight declines across Minnesota and Montana. Considering the advanced crop stage in most of the region, actual harvest reports now bear more importance than weekly crop condition ratings.

The durum crop in Montana and North Dakota continues to be pushed ahead of normal in development due to drought impacts in nearly all the main producing areas. In North Dakota, 90 percent of the crop is turning color, well ahead of the 5-year average of 62 percent and the 2016 level of 69 percent. In Montana, 80 percent of the crop has turned color, also well ahead of the 5-year average of 61 percent. Harvest has begun in both states. No official progress levels are available for North Dakota, but more than one-third of the crop is rated as mature and ready for harvest. Harvest accelerated rapidly in Montana last week, jumping to 20 percent complete, up from just 3 percent the last week in July due to a contrast in weather patterns, with hot, dry and windy conditions in Montana, and cooler temperatures and rain in North Dakota. These conditions led to lower crop ratings in Montana, but a slight improvement in North Dakota. The Montana durum crop is pegged at 71 percent poor to very poor, and just 3 percent good. This compares to 55 percent poor to very poor, and 3 percent good to excellent the previous week. The North Dakota crop is rated 32 percent poor to very poor, and 17 percent good. This is well below the 2016 crop ratings, but up from 40 percent poor to very poor, and 14 percent good the last week in July.

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