Combines are out in southwestern North Dakota finishing up spring wheat. Harvest is behind in the state compared to the average for this time of year, according to the NASS.

Harvest is ramping up across the state, with spring wheat, durum, barley and some canola being cut throughout the hot days of August with temperatures in the high 80s-90s across the state.

“The crops are moving along quite fast in this area,” said Rick Schmidt, NDSU Extension agent in Oliver County. “The spring wheat harvest is nearing completion, and I am estimating that over 90 percent has been combined. It was an interesting year for wheat; some producers did well with slightly above average yields, while others struggled as a result of the drought conditions.”

While spring wheat harvest is nearly finished across the state, some producers had higher than average yields, while others reported lower yields from heat stress during heading.

“Wheat harvest is almost over. Some barley and rye ran well and had average-to-good yields, but spring wheat was disappointing with very low yields in the area. Test weight and protein seemed to be good and I have not heard of any major quality issues,” said Penny Nester, NDSU Extension agent in Kidder County.

Schmidt also commented that the wheat quality and test weights were “good considering the extremely dry summer.” 

Rainstorms have come through in several areas of the state, stopping harvest for a couple of days. In addition, the state noted cooler temperatures for the last week of August, first week in September. In fact, in western ND, temperatures for the lows are forecasted to be in the 30s for Sept. 8-9, and highs will be in the 50s-60s with rain.

“Harvest has begun in full earnest in most all of the region, and some areas are struggling with much higher levels of soil moisture. Rains were more common in the east, but not in the west,” said Bill Hodous, NDSU Extension agent in Ramsey County.

While areas in the west were drier than areas in the east, especially the northeast, rain showers have helped fall crops recover from average to being rated very good across the state.

“Things are looking up after last week when we had a few shots of rain. We are still dry, but our late-season crops look much better than they have been,” Nester said.

Corn across the state is ranging in the milk to dent stages.

“Corn is looking good. One timely week of rain the end of June and early July changed the corn crop dramatically. The crop is denting in most fields and should reach maturity before any real cold weather sets in. It still needs rain or the test weight will suffer, but the potential for a decent crop is there,” Schmidt said.

Soybeans are recovering in spite of the lack of rain early on and some beans are beginning to turn color.

“Soybeans look pretty good. We didn’t receive near enough rain in July and August for there to be any bin buster yields, but the plants have remained healthy and vegetative throughout the drought, so I am anticipating an average or slightly below average yield,” he said.

In Kidder County, corn is looking nice, and there are some excellent fields of soybeans.

“Corn in our county looks good and we are expecting an average crop in most areas. Some dry spots will probably be chopped for silage over the next few weeks,” Nester said. “Soybeans are varied, with some fields looking excellent in parts of the county and some late-planted beans looking tough. It will be a varied harvest. The drier beans in the north end of the county will probably be ready for harvest in the next 2-3 weeks.”

Sunflowers are looking good in many fields throughout the state, with integrated pest management specialists reporting and scouting for red sunflower seed weevil.

Potato rows have closed and some vines are drying, and pre-piles of sugarbeets have started in the Red River Valley.

For insects, Janet Knodel, NDSU Extension entomologist, said grasshopper populations are high across the state. Adult canola flea beetles have been reported in the north central region.

Blackbirds are being reported in flowers.

“Sunflowers look very good right now. Our major challenge in yield loss is typically blackbird damage, so hopefully drier conditions will help prevent water sources for the birds next to fields,” Nester said.

According to the North Dakota National Ag Statistics Service, harvest is well behind the average in all crops.

While the U.S. Drought Monitor reported North Dakota was back to normal moisture a few weeks ago, it is now reporting (Aug. 27) abnormally dry conditions beginning to form throughout the west and central regions of the state, with a small area in the northwest corner and a small area in the south central region in moderately dry conditions.