OMAHA (DTN) -- The second day of sampling on the 2016 Hard Spring Wheat and Durum Tour generated a 46.5 bushels per acre average yield estimate. The two-day average is 44.8 bpa, compared to 48.8 in 2015.
Scouts fanned out into the wheat fields of northwestern and central North Dakota. Some cars nearly reached the Canadian border before dropping back down toward Devil's Lake, where the tour ended for the day. Samples were taken in 197 fields Wednesday.
Tour organizer and Wheat Quality Council President Ben Handcock led his car up through the central part of the state to Minot, North Dakota, before heading east to Devil's Lake.
His route's spring wheat yields averaged 53 bpa by midday, with the lowest field coming in at 41 bpa and the highest at 65 bpa. Two morning stops at durum fields yielded an average of 35 bpa. The tour's two-day durum average is 45.4 bpa, compared to 39.5 in 2015.
Handcock's car didn't come across any combined fields Wednesday and he estimated that most of the wheat fields were three to four weeks from harvest. Insects and disease were scarce, although scouts occasionally saw small amounts of scab.
Wheat is most susceptible to head scab at the flowering/heading stage of development, which is the final stage before the crop starts to ripen. Head scab thrives with frequent rains, cloudy days, and high humidity. Many areas of North Dakota have been hammered by rain the past few weeks. As of Sunday July 24, North Dakota spring wheat was 98% headed and durum was 92% headed, according to USDA.
In their Crop Progress Report on July 26, the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) reported, "While overall crop conditions have been favorable with promising yield potential, adverse weather has affected areas of the production region. Some areas of the region received storm damage over the last week, including hail damage."
Dan Wogsland, executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association said his route left Bismarck Wednesday morning and headed on highway 23 to the northwest portion of the state. "We made 16 stops and scouted four durum fields which averaged 52 bpa and the spring averaged 52 bpa as well," he said. "We did see one field of durum that had scab, but overall quality for our route wasn't too bad."
Wogsland added, "We didn't see any hail damage, but some of the fields were late and just flowering. But, you could see the tracks where the farmer has been applying fungicide to limit disease."
NDWC noted that producers in some areas of North Dakota and South Dakota that were extremely dry during the growing season have chosen not to harvest extremely low yielding fields and will instead use for grazing or hay.
Scouts likely saw the best wheat of the tour on Wednesday, Handcock said. On Thursday, the cars will drive through the northeastern corner of North Dakota and the westernmost counties of Minnesota, which received much more rainfall than the rest of the Northern Plains.
"We're going to run into surplus moisture tomorrow for sure in places in the northeast," Handcock told DTN. "I think we'll find more scab tomorrow than today."
The 2016 Wheat Quality Council wheat tour will finish scouting fields Thursday morning and will report a final average on Thursday afternoon.
Mary Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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