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Jenny Schlecht/Agweek

Crops continue to look good overall

Generalizing about Upper Midwest crops is always risky. The region is so big and conditions vary so much — south to north and east to west — that what's true in some places is never true in all.

But a new government report reinforces what Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota agriculturalists already know: Crops in the region are doing well overall, despite heavy rains in many areas.

Not only are crops generally in good condition, their development — slowed initially by a late planting start — has caught and even exceeded their respective five-year averages, according to the weekly crop progress report released July 23 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report reflects conditions on July 22.

Heavy rains — increasingly referred to as extreme rainfall events — have plagued big chunks of the region, especially southern Minnesota and southeast South Dakota. As a result, crops in those states aren't doing as well as those in North Dakota.

For instance, 71 percent of corn in South Dakota was rated good or excellent, 23 percent fair and 6 percent poor or very poor.

In Minnesota, 78 percent of corn was in good or excellent condition, 16 percent fair and 6 percent poor or very poor.

In North Dakota, 91 percent of corn was rated good or excellent, 8 percent fair 1 percent poor.

But current South Dakota corn conditions are much better than they were a year ago when drought was hammering corn in much of the region. Last year at this time, 28 percent of South Dakota corn was grated good or excellent, 35 percent fair and 37 percent poor or very poor.

Crops also have benefitted from warm weather, which has pushed — or accelerated — their development. A slow start to planting this spring raised concerns, but those concerns have diminished steadily

In Minnesota, for instance, 77 percent of corn is silking, compared with the five-year average of 50 percent. North Dakota and South Dakota also are well above their respective five-year averages for con silking.

Here's a look at spring wheat and soybeans, which, along with corn, comprise the region's three major crops:

Spring wheat

Montana — Sixty-five percent was rated good or excellent, 25 percent fair and 10 percent poor or very poor.

North Dakota — Eighty-eight percent was in good or excellent condition, 11 percent fair and 1 percent poor.

Minnesota — Eighty-five percent was in good or excellent shape, 14 percent fair and 1 percent poor.

South Dakota — Forty-nine percent was rated good or excellent, 37 percent fair and 14 percent poor or very poor.

Soybeans

North Dakota — Eighty-four percent was in good or excellent shape, 14 percent fair and two percent poor.

Minnesota — Seventy-six percent was rated good or excellent, 19 percent fair and 5 percent poor or very poor.

South Dakota — Sixty-five percent was in good or excellent condition, 27 percent fair and 8 percent poor or very poor.

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