Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Kansas may lose top wheat producer title

Grain industry officials predict North Dakota farmers’ crops will yield 38 bushels per acre

August 4, 2004

Advertisement

— A group that organizes an annual tour of North Dakota wheat fields says this year's crop has so much promise that the state could surpass Kansas as the nation's top wheat producer.

"It's not likely, but possible," said Ben Handcock, executive vice president of the Pierre, S.D.-based Wheat Quality Council.

North Dakota and Kansas historically have competed for the unofficial title, which has no real significance outside of coffee shop bragging rights. Kansas, which grows winter wheat, has worn the crown the past seven years and easily fended off a challenge two years ago. North Dakota's primary crop is spring wheat.

"I hope (North Dakota farmers) do have a good crop," said Brett Myers, executive vice president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. "We don't wish bad luck on anybody."

Thirty-six grain industry officials who spent three days last week examining 332 fields across North Dakota and into South Dakota and Minnesota pegged the potential of this year's spring wheat crop at 38.8 bushels per acre. The durum wheat potential was estimated at 29.8 bushels.

The figures are a few bushels higher than U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates issued last month. Updated Agriculture Department projections are due Aug. 12.

Handcock cautioned the wheat tour numbers were estimates based only on three days of observations, but the tour numbers typically are close to how the crop actually turns out. Tour participants use a formula developed by North Dakota State University.

"What we saw was certainly a better-than-average crop," Handcock said. "The Kansas number keeps going down, and it's a possibility that North Dakota could be the No. 1 wheat state."

The Agriculture Department last month lowered the Kansas wheat crop estimate from 351 million bushels to 313 million, a drop of 12 percent. Handcock said he expected the August forecast to lower the production estimate to around 310 million bushels.

Amanda Kautz, left, a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Risk Management Agency, and Ken Ulbrich, of Bay State Milling,
evaluate spring wheat. They worked Thursday in a field near
Mekinock, N.D. Thirty-six "crop scouts" toured areas throughout
North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota to gage the potential
yield for the upcoming harvest. The group predicts a
better-than-average crop, which may boost North Dakota past Kansas
as the top wheat producing state.

Amanda Kautz, left, a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency, and Ken Ulbrich, of Bay State Milling, evaluate spring wheat. They worked Thursday in a field near Mekinock, N.D. Thirty-six "crop scouts" toured areas throughout North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota to gage the potential yield for the upcoming harvest. The group predicts a better-than-average crop, which may boost North Dakota past Kansas as the top wheat producing state.

"It's possible to get that amount in North Dakota," he said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.