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Experts: So far, so good for canola, durum harvest

Although southwest North Dakota's grain harvest is behind where it was in 2012, experts are calling this year's crop a success to date.

"What we're seeing is a lot of crop that's ready right now," said Scranton Equity Grain Division Manager Mike Wedwick. "With a better, warmer, dryer forecast of late, I think that's making people a little less edgy. We've been combining spring wheat for about a week and yields have all been good -- we're averaging 40 to 60 bushel wheat."

Shannon Dennis, who farms south of Dickinson, was out harvesting durum Thursday afternoon and said he hasn't encountered any problems.

"I started on Monday," Dennis said. "It's been going well so far. I don't have anything to complain about."

With crops south of Interstate 94 generally ahead of those north of Dickinson and in the Richardton/Taylor area (partially because of that area receiving more moisture this spring), Wedwick said this year's crop looks to be one of the better yields of the past few years.

"The durum that we've seen so far has been excellent quality," Wedwick said. "Canola yields, if it didn't receive any hail damage or anything like that, have been good. We've seen 2,500 pound per acre canola on the high side and, overall, this is an excellent crop at a ton an acre-plus."

In early August, Wedwick (among others) expressed concern about potentially cool weather patterns that were forecast into September, but he said those forecasts have improved.

"The forecasts for September have probably increased by 10 degrees over what was being forecast the first 10 days of August," Wedwick said. "That's helping people be a little more at ease. It appears that we're going to get some good weather to get this crop off. As prices go, the prices that we have for the yields we have are very profitable. A lot of guys are trying to adjust to dollars per acre versus price per bushel."

Southwest Grain agronomist Chris Binstock said he's seen a lot of harvest activity in the Mott/New England area lately.

"They're rolling pretty good in the areas that I've seen south of Dickinson," Binstock said. "When you go north into the Dickinson area, it's just getting started. I would say by this weekend or a little later, it'll be in full swing in those areas, too. Typically, those areas south of Dickinson are usually a week or two ahead of up by Dickinson. Plus, when you look at an area like Taylor, they had a lot of moisture earlier this year and guys just couldn't get in the field."

Binstock said the overall consensus is that spring wheat yields have been "very good," though protein numbers will be behind what they were in 2012 across the board.

"So far, I'm really pleased with how everything is coming off," Binstock said. "I would imagine the growers and farmers out there feel the same way."

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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