Canada Markets

North Dakota Faces a Late Start

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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This chart shows the pace of spring wheat planting for North Dakota spring wheat over the past five years (2013-2017). Unfavorable weather is pointing to a delayed start for 2018. (DTN graphic by Cliff Jamieson)

Tuesday's DTN Ag Weather Forum by Mike Palmerino focuses on the lingering pattern of cold weather that has led to fieldwork delays in the U.S. Northern Plains. DTN's Five-Day Highs Compared to Normal shows temperatures in North and South Dakota to dip more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit below normal -- and forecast models suggesting as much as 30 to 35 degrees F below normal through Sunday of this week. This is the coldest of any area of the northern U.S. or Prairies relative to historic norms. As well, DTN forecasts a storm system to bring rain/snow for this region late in the week.

Needless to say, spring planting remains delayed for this region, with Palmerino indicating a May 3 target to begin fieldwork that could prove optimistic. The attached chart shows the planting pace for spring wheat in North Dakota over the past five years. The earliest report of spring seeding noted was, as of April 3 in the USDA's Crop Progress report in 2016 -- at that point, 1% of the crop was already seeded. The latest recorded start over this five-year period was in 2013, when 2% of the state's crop was reported planted as of April 28.

While the ability to get on the land may alter decisions made over the mix of crops seeded and lead to implications for quality in fall, a look solely at spring wheat yield over this five-year period would suggest that planting dates had little effect. Over the five years in question, North Dakota spring wheat yield ranged from 41 to 48 bpa. While spring seeding in 2013 was the most delayed, extending well into June, average yield was 46.5 bpa, near the top of the range.

Looking over a 25-year period (1993-through-2017), five years stand out where average spring wheat yields in North Dakota were well-below the trend for this period. This was seen in 1997 (minus 19.1%), 2002 (minus 19.2%), 2006 (minus 17.7%), 2011 (minus 26.4%) and 2017 (minus 10.8%), with the percent deviation from trend in brackets. Of these five years, spring planting was reported as being near complete in late May/early June in four of the years, while at a pace that was ahead of the respective previous five-year average. Only in 2011 did spring planting drag on well into June at a pace well-behind the previous five-year average.

While there are a number of factors that determine crop yield from year-to-year, this data would suggest that planting dates are not necessarily a factor in spring wheat yield determination.


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4/12/2018 | 10:28 AM CDT
The other thing to look at would be the amount of prevent plant acres in those years. 2013 saw huge PP acres in ND. Need to look at total production and not just yield. One of the complicating factors for this year will be that the soil is relatively dry in much of ND. Spring rains should be readily absorbed into the soil allowing planting to start soon after, even if it is a bit cooler. Paul