The North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) and the North Dakota Grain Growers Association (NDGGA) brought the 2020 U.S. hard red spring (HRS/DNS) wheat crop to domestic and international stakeholders on July 28 via a “Virtual Hard Red Spring Wheat Pre-Harvest Update” on the Zoom platform.

Presentations from NDWC, farmers and university experts painted a picture of a variable crop across Montana, North and South Dakota and Minnesota that is about three weeks away from the height of harvest. Crop conditions run the gamut from excellent yield and quality potential to thin drought and heat stressed pockets and even water-logged fields in eastern production areas. The experts who reported on the crop generally agree that USDA’s current HRS yield forecast of 46.6 bushels per acre (bu/a) is “optimistic,” but should end up close to the long-term average yield of 45 bu/a.

Dr. Joel Ransom, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension Agronomist, told an estimated 211 participants on the virtual update that  farmers will see many good fields this year, but few will have “their best crop ever.” NDSU’s spring wheat breeder Dr. Andrew Green explained that farmers in the state are paying close attention to end-use qualities as well as yield potential when selecting varieties – and in their management.

“Functional quality and yields in North Dakota’s spring wheat production have both increased overall the past several years,” Dr. Green said. “We are seeing that higher yields and better quality are not mutually exclusive.”

In the Virtual HRS Pre-Harvest Update, Dr. Andrew Friskop, Extension Plant Pathologist, NDSU, described symptoms of a wheat disease called bacterial leaf streak to help farmer participants identify the disease. NDWC Market Development and Research Manager Erica Olson did a great job managing the challenges inherent in today’s virtual meetings.

Dennis Haugen farms in east central North Dakota and showed the participants a field with an estimated yield potential of around 75 bu/a.

“The problem in this area is that it has been so wet since last year, many fields were never planted,” he said, describing conditions that also prevail along the Red River in North Dakota and across the river into Minnesota.

“Northwest Minnesota has received up to three times our normal annual rainfall since 2019, so it was very challenging to get spring wheat seeded,” said Dr. Jochum Wiersma, Extension Small Grains Specialist at the University of Minnesota’s Crookston station. “In the fields that were planted, we are going to see yield loss and lower protein levels – if they can be harvested. We are asking for dry weather until November in our area.”

Planting conditions were better in South Dakota and farmers were able to seed 815,000 acres of spring wheat, which is 35 percent more than in 2019, said Reid Christopherson, Executive Director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission. The HRS harvest there is already about 10 percent complete.

Relatively cool conditions with good moisture has the Montana HRS crop in very good shape overall with the potential for high yields and good quality protein. Sam Anderson, Industry Analyst & Outreach Coordinator for the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, reported that among spring wheat states, Montana has the highest rated crop conditions at 80 percent good to excellent.

NDWC Administrator Neal Fisher, NDGGA Executive Director Dan Wogsland and Wheat Quality Council Executive Vice President Dave Green each expressed thanks to all the participants and the folks who planned and managed the virtual pre-harvest update, and offered sincere hope that participants in the 2021 Wheat Quality Council’s spring wheat tour will be back in their vehicles checking fields along the traditional routes.



As harvest time approaches for the 2020 U.S. hard red spring (HRS/DNS) wheat crop, domestic and international customers are anxious to get the latest crop information.  With many in-person meetings and events put on hold this year, including the Wheat Quality Council’s Annual Spring Wheat Tour, many of our friends and customers will miss the opportunity to see the crop’s potential first-hand.

But as everyone has done in this new COVID-19 world, the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) and the North Dakota Grain Growers Association (NDGGA) are bringing the crop to stakeholders by hosting a virtual HRS/DNS update on Tuesday, July 28, at 9:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time. The meeting will be hosted on the Zoom application. To register, visit

With Wheat Quality Council Tours like this one from North Dakota in 2016 cancelled, North Dakota wheat grower groups are hosting a virtual HRS/DNS pre-harvest update July 28.

Representatives from NDWC, NDGGA, farmers and wheat commissioners from Minnesota, Montana and and South Dakota will report on crop conditions, production and quality potential and other important issues that have affected this HRS/DNS crop. Extension experts will provide agronomic and disease updates, and producers will provide video and personal observations of crop conditions and maturity levels throughout the spring wheat region.

Here is the updated agenda:


  • NDWC and NDGGA

Wheat Quality Council Update

  • Dave Green, Wheat Quality Council

Spring Wheat Overview

  • NDWC

North Dakota Update

  • Joel Ransom, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension
  • Andrew Green, NDSU Spring Wheat Breeder
  • Field Reports from ND Producers

Montana Update

  • Cassidy Marn, Montana Wheat & Barley Committee
  • Field Reports from Montana producers

South Dakota Update

  • Reid Christopherson, South Dakota Wheat Commission
  • Field Reports from South Dakota producers

Minnesota Update

  • Charlie Vogel, Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council
  • Jim Anderson, University of Minnesota
  • Jochum Wiersma, University of Minnesota
  • Field Reports from Minnesota producers

2020 Disease Outlook

  • Andrew Friskop, NDSU Extension

Wrap up and Questions


U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.

Goyings FarmsThe Goyings family has been “working hard and going strong” on their wheat farm in northwestern Ohio since 1884. Today, Doug Goyings, his wife Diane and their son Jeremy strive to be leaders in innovative farming practices that incorporate precision and conservation. They were one of the first farms in the area to successfully implement no-till practices and GPS-based systems that protect their soil, reduce fuel use and increase crop production efficiency.

With remarkable self-sufficiently, Doug and Jeremy designed and built their high-volume grain storage system (only to re-build it after it was severely damaged by a tornado) and built their own equipment to offer custom field drainage services to other farmers. They know that such challenging work and long days are made slightly easier when it is work that you love, surrounded by the people that you love, including the next generation on Goyings Farms – the twin boys Axel and Garrett of Jeremy and his wife Jessica.

Location: Paulding, Ohio
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Soft Red Winter (SRW)
Leadership: Doug Goyings: 2019/20 Chairman, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW); USW Director, representing Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program (OSGMP), since 2009; Past-Chairman, USW Long-Range Planning Committee; Past Director, OSGMP; Member and Past-President, Paulding County, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Director, Ohio Veal Growers Inc.; Director, Creston Veal, Inc.; Director, Paulding Landmark, Inc.

View other videos and stories in this “Stories from the Wheat Farm” series:

The Next Generation in Kansas
Committed to Stewardship in Washington
Living with Purpose in North Dakota
A Passion for the Land in Oklahoma
Committed to Wheat Quality in Oregon
Embracing the Agricultural Lifestyle in Montana


U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.

The Kleeman/Millershaski Family: Gary Millershaski started farming with his father-in-law Earl Kleeman in 1992 and his sons Jeremy and Kyler joined the operation four years ago. Sadly, Earl passed away in 2019, but not before he proudly helped harvest what was one of the family’s best wheat crops in years. Kyler Millershaski is excited to build on his family’s legacy as the next generation on the farm.

Location: Lakin, Kansas
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Hard Red Winter (HRW) and Hard White (HW)
Gary Millershaski: Past President, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers; Kansas Wheat Commissioner; USW Director
Kyler Millershaski: Vice President, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers 


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

Each year in May, the Wheat Quality Council (WQC) hosts a three-day winter wheat tour across Kansas and parts of surrounding states to assess hard red winter (HRW) wheat conditions and yield potential. For the past 50 years, caravans of industry stakeholders including farmers, journalists, economists, millers, traders and agronomists have joined together to report on the crop.

This year, with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, WQC could not conduct the traditional tour. Instead, Kansas Wheat and K-State Research and Extension (KSRE), in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and other industry partners held a virtual wheat tour.

Instead of the traditional process, a small group of crop scouts surveyed hundreds of fields in Kansas between May 18 and May 21, and estimated environmental, disease and pest pressures and yield potential by region and for the whole state. These estimates represent a snapshot in time and are subject to change with environmental developments.

Stakeholders followed the tour closely through social media (#wheattour20) and in summaries conducted on the Zoom conference service at the end of each day. The event started with some trepidation as drought in the western third of the state, dryness in the state’s central corridor and broad freeze damage in April had raised concerns about what scouts would find.

“Overall, the crop was in better condition than I personally was expecting,” said Justin Gilpin, CEO, Kansas Wheat. “The last two weeks of moisture have really aided secondary tillers emerging in the central corridor and heads are filling with the added moisture.”

After three days of sampling, the state’s 2020/21 wheat crop potential (planted 2019) was estimated at 7.73 million metric tons (MMT), 7 percent below USDA’s May 12 estimate of 8.33 MMT and 16 percent below last year’s output of 9.20 MMT. The state’s average estimated wheat yield came in at 44.5 bu/acre (2.99 MT/ha), 14 percent below last year’s realized yield average of 52.0 bu/ acre (3.50 MT/ha).

According to Kansas Wheat, the state’s north-central district has been plagued by spring drought, and stripe rust and barley yellow dwarf are starting to emerge. The spring freeze also had a significant effect on the crop in that area. The tour estimated the average yield potential for north central Kansas at 41.1 bu/acre (2.76 MT/ha).

“Quality-wise, good rains will help with yield and test weights in the central corridor,” said Gilpin.

Image courtesy of KSU Wheat and Forage Extension Pathology.  

The crop looked better in northwest Kansas but was still variable. Jeanne Falk Jones, Multi-County Extension Agronomist, KSRE said, “April took a toll on the wheat crop this year with all the cold temperatures.”

She reported cosmetic leaf burn from cold temperatures on April 2 and 3, and again April 12 to 15. The area has suffered from drought stress, weed pressure due to thin stands, low pressure wheat streak mosaic virus, tan spot and stripe rust. The average yield potential was 51.7 bushels per acre (3.48 MT/ha).

In west-central and southwest Kansas, the driest parts of the state, the wheat is thin and short. Gary Millershaski, Kansas Wheat Commissioner from Lakin, Kan., reported that many acres of wheat had been abandoned due to extreme drought conditions in the spring and fall. In addition, planted acres were already down significantly in the area. He said only 30 percent to 40 percent of wheat in the area emerged before winter, which had a negative effect on yield potential.

Severe drought stress in the eastern part of Seward County, Kan. Photo courtesy of Romulo Lollato.

Buyers should keep in mind that crop yield and grain protein content are generally inversely related. Fields that were fertilized for 50.0 bu/acre (3.36 MT/ha) that end up with lower yields should produce a crop with higher protein levels.

Millershaski said, “I believe our quantity is going to be down a little bit, but I feel like our quality is going to be unbelievable.”

Calculated yield potential for west-central Kansas was 42.5 bu/acre (2.86 MT/ha), and the southwest Kansas estimate came in at 32.4 bushels per acre (2.18 MT/ha).

“It is amazing how the crop was still holding on, holding out hope for just one shot of rain. Cool night temperatures have helped the wheat from burning up. In those areas of 20 to 25-bushel wheat, if it catches a rain, it may run up to 35 bushel wheat, which is an amazing testament to the wheat varieties,” said Gilpin.

To see more information about the 2020 virtual wheat tour, click here.

Header Photo: Evidence of freeze damage in central Kansas. Photo courtesy of KSU Wheat and Forage Specialist, Romulo Lollato.


The new crop U.S. wheat harvest is underway in south Texas and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will publish its first “Harvest Report” for marketing year 2020/21 on Friday, May 29.

USW Harvest Reports are published every Friday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time, throughout the season with updates and comments on harvest progress, crop conditions and current crop quality for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat.

Anyone may subscribe to an email version of the “Harvest Report” at this link. USW includes links in the email to additional wheat condition and grading information, including the U.S. Drought Monitor, USDA/NASS Crop Progress and National Wheat Statistics, the official FGIS wheat grade standards and USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. Harvest Reports are also posted online on the USW website here.

The weekly Harvest Report is a key component of USW’s international technical and marketing programs. It is a resource that helps customers understand how the crop situation may affect basis values and export prices.

USW’s overseas offices share the report with their market contacts and use it as a key resource for answering inquiries and meeting with customers. USW/Mexico City also publishes the report in Spanish.

USW wants to thank and acknowledge the organizations that make “Harvest Reports” possible, including:

  • California Wheat Commission Laboratory;
  • Durum Wheat Quality and Pasta Processing Laboratory, North Dakota State University (NDSU)
  • Great Plains Analytical Laboratory;
  • Plains Grains, Inc.;
  • State Wheat Commissions;
  • USDA/Federal Grain Inspection Service;
  • USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service;
  • USDA/Agricultural Research Service Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory;
  • USDA/National Agricultural Statistics Service;
  • Wheat Marketing Center;
  • Wheat Quality & Carbohydrate Research, Department of Plant Sciences, NDSU;
  • Wheat Quality Council.



By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

U.S. wheat farmers across the Northern Plains are hard at work trying to plant spring wheat for the 2020 harvest. Their efforts depend on widely varying regional conditions so many producers are behind schedule while some have pulled ahead.

USDA’s most recent crop progress report shows total U.S. spring wheat planting at 42 percent complete, slightly ahead of last year but well behind the 5-year average of 63 percent. Cool temperatures, overly wet field conditions and delayed field work from the 2019 harvest are slowing farmers down in northwestern Minnesota, eastern North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota. More favorable conditions are helping farmers progress across other parts of the Northern Plains.

According to USDA, only 40 percent of Minnesota spring wheat is planted, compared to the 5-year average of 67 percent. Most delays are in the northwestern part of the state.

“We’re only 15 to 20 percent planted in northwestern Minnesota where wetter conditions are slowing field work,” said Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council.

Conditions are similar in eastern North Dakota.

According to Dr. Frayne Olson, Crop Economist and Marketing Specialist at North Dakota State University, eastern North Dakota had a very wet fall and not all of the region’s wheat, canola, corn and soybeans were harvested on time which pushed fall field work into spring 2020.

“Spring weather has remained cool and wet with very few days suitable for field work,” he said.

As of May 10, North Dakota spring wheat is only 27 planted compared to the 5-year average of 63 percent. Overly wet field conditions could drive farmers to opt for “Prevent Plant,” or fallow out, spring wheat acres. Farmers are eligible for crop insurance payments on fields when extreme conditions prevent them from planting the crop by a final, prescribed planting date.

“Even if some fields will be planted past the optimum seeding dates, there is still good yield potential,” Dr. Olson said. “Weather during the growing season will have a major impact on final yields and quality.”

In northeastern South Dakota, wet weather and colder soil temperatures are also delaying farmers’ ability to do spring field work. In this part of the state, farmers are also likely to Prevent Plant a portion of spring wheat acres. USDA estimates South Dakota producers will plant 850,000 acres (about 344,000 hectares) of spring wheat this year.

“At the beginning of the season, I thought we would come in a lot lower than USDA’s number due to overly wet field conditions, but recently, in the central part of the state, dealers sold of out spring wheat seed,” said Reid Christopherson, Executive Director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission. “Overall, we could end up close to USDA’s numbers.”

According to Christopherson, farmers are closely watching the decline in corn and ethanol demand and its impact on corn prices compared to spring wheat.

“Early in the planting window, producers may choose spring wheat over corn. Late in the planting window, they may choose soybeans,” said Christopherson.

Despite challenges in the eastern Northern Plains, spring wheat producers further west and south are making strong progress in the 2020 planting season.

“Warmer, drier weather, better harvest progress in fall 2019 and an earlier start are giving farmers a boost in central-western and southwestern Minnesota,” said Vogel.

About 85 percent of intended spring wheat acres are planted in that part of the state. Vogel estimates Minnesota’s southwestern region could add 50,000 “new” spring wheat acres this year (acres that would traditionally would have gone to either corn or soybeans) as producers explore spring wheat and cover cropping rotational opportunities that could add value to overall farm profitability.

“In the north, we saw record seed corn sales in January, but we have recently seen record seed corn returns so some of those acres will go to spring wheat,” said Vogel.

In late March, USDA estimated Minnesota producers would plant 1.35 million acres (about 546,000 hectares) of spring wheat, down 7 percent year-over-year, if realized. Given recent marketing and price challenges with corn and the interest in new crop rotation systems, Vogel estimates Minnesota producers could actually plant up to 1.44 million acres (about 583,000 hectares) of spring wheat this year, in line with 2019.

In western North Dakota, “Producers are seeing better progress due to warmer, drier conditions,” said Erica Olson, the North Dakota Wheat Commission’s Market Development and Research Manager. Despite the possibility for more Prevent Plant acres in the eastern part of the state, she believes North Dakota spring wheat acres could still reach USDA’s estimate of 6.10 million acres (about 2.5 million hectares) in 2020.

Favorable planting weather in central South Dakota is helping farmers get into the fields and plant more quickly than their peers in the northeastern part of the state. According to USDA, 75 percent of the state’s spring wheat is planted compared to 38 percent last year and the 5-year average of 78 percent.

Dry weather is helping Montana producers work through their spring wheat planting efforts. Though only 50 percent of the state’s spring wheat is in the ground compared to the 5-year average of 62 percent, progress is right in line with last year. Additionally, according to Cassidy Marn, Executive Vice President of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Montana could see more spring wheat planted area than USDA’s initial estimate of 3.30 million acres (about 1.34 million hectares) due to potentially less acres planted to barley in 2020.

“We could easily reach 3.30 million acres this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we reached 3.40 to 3.50 million acres,” said Marn, which would be up to 1.42 million hectares.


For the first time in its 50-year history, the Wheat Quality Council (WQC) Hard Winter Wheat Tour has been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) knows that its customers around the world look forward to the snapshot of new hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop yield potential the tour provides.

We want our customers to know that plans are being made to conduct a limited, virtual tour of the Kansas wheat crop during the week of May 18. Organizers are working with certified crop advisors, Extension agents, elevators, farmers and others in the field to make yield and quality observations of the crop and share information during the tour.

The organizers and USW will provide more information about the planned virtual hard winter wheat tour as soon as it is available. Stay tuned to #wheattour20 for future updates.

This week in Wheat Letter, USW Market Analyst Claire Hutchins shared information about challenges from freeze damage and increasingly dry conditions to the crop in the Central and Southern Plains. In addition, several state organizations report on new crop progress at the following links:

Colorado –

Kansas –

Idaho –

Montana –

Nebraska –

North Dakota –

Oklahoma –

South Dakota –

Texas –


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

The condition of the U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat crop is not improving. Farmers – and the markets – are concerned about the threats to yield potential from wide-spread April freezes and increasing dryness across a significant portion of the Central and Southern Great Plains.

USDA’s most recent crop condition ratings reflect the weather effects on the 2020-21 winter wheat crop, reducing the total crop rated good to excellent from 62 percent to 57 percent. According to Romulo Lollato, Kansas State University Wheat and Forages Specialist, drought weakens winter wheat’s ability to recover from freeze damage and both conditions challenge winter wheat yield potential. So the change in ratings is focused on the HRW crop, based on the worsening dryness in north central and southwestern Kansas, eastern Colorado and south central Nebraska. And this week, the extent of freeze damage is being monitored carefully in the following states.

Kansas.  Between April 20 and April 27, USDA reduced its Kansas winter wheat rating from 46 good to excellent to 40 percent as localized freezes and expanding dryness threaten crop progress.

“About 50 to 60 percent of the state’s wheat was impacted to varying degrees by freeze damage,” said Lollato. In north-central Kansas, several counties showed varying but considerable freeze damage. According to researchers at Kansas State University, the crop in that region needs moisture soon to help with freeze damage recovery. In parts of central Kansas, late-sown fields, following a soybean crop, showed severe leaf and tiller damage from recent freeze events. In parts of northwestern Kansas, dry soil conditions predisposed plants to freeze damage and in some cases severely damaged fields turned yellow and brown as plant tissue deteriorated. Southwest Kansas is still extremely dry and could impact the crop’s ability to recover from freeze damage. Looking ahead, hot, dry temperatures across the state could further challenge the crop’s ability to recover from freeze damage.

Late-sown fields in north central Kansas showed severe leaf and tiller damage from recent freeze events. Photos courtesy of Romulo Lollato.

Colorado. “Our story is dryness – we need rain,” said Brad Erker, Executive Director of the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee.

Several weeks ago, USDA rated 54 percent of Colorado’s winter wheat in good to excellent condition. As of April 27, only 37 percent of the state’s crop is in top condition. Moderate to severe drought plagues the eastern third of the state, where the winter wheat is grown. There is little evidence yet that freeze damage has impacted the crop, but reports are still developing. Looking ahead, high temperatures and no moisture in eastern Colorado could continue to pressure the state’s yield potential.

The April 23 UNL Drought Monitor showed a significant expansion of abnormal dryness and severe drought across the Central and Southern Plains, with dry conditions expanding in North Dakota and the Pacific Northwest.

Nebraska. HRW conditions in Nebraska are better than in Kansas and Colorado, with 69 percent of the crop rated good to excellent. However, freezing temperatures impacted wheat across the state. According to Sarah Morton, Agriculture Promotion Coordinator for the Nebraska Wheat Board, temperatures close to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) in Nebraska’s southern Panhandle “knocked the wheat back and turned it brown,” slowing growth. Freezing temperatures in southwest Nebraska also burned back the wheat. Adequate soil moisture levels and warmer temperatures in the western part of the state are expected to help the crop recover from recent freezes. On April 23, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Drought Monitor introduced abnormal dryness into the south-central portion of the state.

Oklahoma. Reports from Oklahoma show significant freeze damage in some of the state’s southwest and south-central counties. Some counties in southwestern Oklahoma reported freeze damage across 40 to 70 percent of the crop. In several extreme cases, some areas in south-central Oklahoma showed freeze damage in virtually every field. The April 23 Drought Monitor expanded areas under abnormal dryness and severe drought in the Oklahoma Panhandle. As of April 27, 62 percent of the state’s HRW is in good to excellent condition, down from 65 percent the week before, with expectations that the condition will continue to deteriorate.

“It’s an extremely challenging time for southwestern Oklahoma producers,” said Mike Schulte, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

Header photo courtesy of Romulo Lollato.


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

According to the March 31 USDA Prospective Plantings report, U.S. total spring-planted wheat area is expected to fall to 12.6 million acres (5.1 million hectares), down 1 percent from 2019/20, if realized. This estimate includes 11.9 million acres (4.82 million hectares) of hard red spring (HRS), down slightly from last year. USDA expects U.S. durum planted area to total 1.29 million acres (522,000 hectares), down 4 percent from 2019/20. For all U.S. wheat, USDA now expects all wheat planted area for harvest in 2020 to total 44.7 million acres (18.1 million hectares), down 1 percent from 2019 and the lowest all wheat planted area since records began in 1919.

North Dakota farmers are expected to plant 6.10 million acres (2.47 million hectares) of HRS, 9% below last year. Last year’s overly wet field conditions affected HRS quality and led to significant cash price discounts at country elevators. According to Dr. Frayne Olson, Crop Economist and Marketing Specialist at North Dakota State University, farmers are “getting very frustrated with HRS quality discounts and the net price they receive at the elevator,” which he says is a disincentive for farmers to plant more HRS.

“I think the North Dakota HRS acreage number is a little low, but it may also reflect USDA concerns about Prevented Planting this spring,” said Dr. Olson. Farmers are eligible for crop insurance payments on fields when extreme conditions prevent them from planting a crop by a final, prescribed planting date, “There are areas in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota that are going to have potential problems with Prevented Planting. However, that should not be an issue from central North Dakota to eastern Montana.”

The risk of quality challenges with HRS and more favorable marketing opportunities for soybeans compared to HRS also adds pressure to North Dakota HRS planted area. North Dakota producers are expected to plant 6.60 million acres (2.67 million hectares) of soybeans for harvest in 2020, up 18 percent from last year.

Of USDA’s prediction of reduced durum planted area, North Dakota Wheat Commission’s Market Development and Research Manager Erica Olson said, “North Dakota’s durum numbers surprised us a little bit, they were very low last year and we expected to see an increase this year.” USDA expects durum planted area in North Dakota to fall 11 percent on the year to 674,000 acres (273,000 hectares) as producers recoil from last year’s difficult, delayed harvest and cash price quality discounting.

Similar to the situation with HRS, North Dakota farmers are getting “very frustrated with durum quality cash price discounts” at North Dakota elevators, Dr. Olson said, “Farmers look at net income versus risk for growing each crop when deciding what to plant. If a farmer can raise Choice durum, net income is good. However, if you raise Ordinary durum, the math does not work. The risk to reward tradeoff has not been good the past several years.” Stable to slightly higher durum planted area in Canada adds pressure to U.S. durum prices which also discourages U.S. durum planted area.

In Minnesota, USDA predicts HRS planted area will fall 7 percent to 1.35 million acres (550,000 hectares), while soybean planted area will increase 8 percent to 7.40 million acres (3.0 million hectares) and corn planted area will increase 8 percent to 8.40 million acres (3.40 million hectares).

Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council, has a slightly different opinion about the outlook for HRS.

“We expected HRS planted area to go down in Minnesota—two weeks ago, but it’s a different world now,” he said, citing the recent strong HRS futures rally attributed mainly to increased nearby domestic demand for bulk products.

“Given the futures rally, I now expect Minnesota HRS planted area could be in line with or slightly above last year’s acreage, if we get warm, dry planting conditions through spring,” said Vogel. However, if western Minnesota receives too much precipitation in the coming weeks, he does think farmers in certain areas may also be expected to make Prevented Planting claims for HRS.

Montana producers are expected to plant 3.30 million acres (1.34 million hectares) of HRS this spring, up 14% from last year and the highest since 2002.

According to Sam Anderson, Industry Analyst and Outreach Coordinator at the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, “It is important to think about harvest and planting conditions last autumn: with lots of moisture, it was hard to get in the field and snow came very early. Those conditions explain most of the changes in this year’s prospective plantings estimate. Farmers were not able to get all their winter wheat in the ground last fall, resulting in the 400,000-acre (162,000-hectare) shift from winter wheat to spring wheat.”

Montana winter wheat planted area is down 20 percent on the year to 1.60 million acres (648,000 hectares).

Updated Winter Wheat Estimates

On March 31, USDA also made minor revisions to the country’s winter wheat planted area from its January forecast, which still hovers around 30.8 million acres (12.5 million hectares), down 1 percent from last year. The hard red winter (HRW) wheat planted area forecast fell slightly from January’s estimate to 21.7 million acres (8.79 million hectares). The soft red winter wheat planted area estimate increased slightly from January to 5.69 million acres (2.30 million hectares), up 9 percent from last year. The white winter wheat planted area forecast increased slightly from January to 3.42 million acres (1.38 million hectares). USDA expects total white wheat acres, planted in both winter and spring, to total 4.10 million acres (1.66 million hectares), in line with last year.