April 23, 2019

Current spring wheat planting northern Plains and Pacific Northwest status:


Flooded Field in Wilkin County, Minnesota April 18, 2019 Photo by: Grant Mehring

Spring weather is finally showing up, but with it comes its unpredictable weather. We caught up with Grant Mehring, WestBred wheat technical product manager for the northern Plains, and Kaitlin Calvert, Idaho agronomist, to discuss the current status of spring wheat planting in their regions.

Northern Plains

“As of April 10th, there has been zero spring wheat planted in the northern Plains,” Grant said. “But we’re not really late. The only reason we’re trending toward late is because we would ideally like to get planting spring wheat in South Dakota and southern Minnesota around April 1st or even the last couple days of March. So by that definition, we are later than we’d like to start.”

Across the country, growers are feeling the pain of planting dates being pushed back due to recent flooding and blizzards.

“Know full well that we’re in a pretty dynamic weather situation right now; it could go really fast if we get warm and windy weather, but we still have a lot of water to move. Right now, they are looking at 10-15 inches of snow across a wide area of South Dakota and the southern half of Minnesota,” Grant said.


Flooded Field in Wilkin County, Minnesota April 18, 2019 Photo by: Grant Mehring

“However, last year we had this exact same situation that only really hit South Dakota and northern Nebraska with 9-18 inches of snow,” he explained. “So two years in a row, we are getting a huge drop of snow very late here.”

The recent snowfall will likely have an effect on planting. “It carries a lot of moisture and even though it’s getting warmer, that snow could delay planting for two to three weeks,” said Grant. “That would then put us into May, and growers in South Dakota and southern Minnesota will plant spring wheat in early May. In that case, we know that our yields will be limited and overall acres will be constricted just a little bit.”

Grant said looking toward northwest North Dakota and southwest North Dakota, they might be planting the last week of April. The larger region — eastern North Dakota, northwest Minnesota and most of South Dakota — probably isn’t going to get started until around May 5th.

“One unique thing is even if we plant late we still are in a northern climate. Even if we’re planting in May and it’s slightly later than normal, we stay pretty cool and what that cool weather can do is fantastic.” said Grant. “We can get a 110-bushel yield even when we plant in May, around May 15th-20th. We showed that last year.”

“It’s important that we still treat and manage the crop the right way and put the inputs on it, especially with the WestBred® spring wheat varieties WB9479, WB9590 and WB9719. They’re a little earlier maturity and a little shorter on plant height, yet they still have really high yield potential and protein. We can plant them a little bit later and still finish with a really nice crop in the North. “

Pacific Northwest

Idaho agronomist Kaitlin Calvert represents the Pacific Northwest and is seeing similar weather conditions in her region.

“After our snow melted in March, it’s been raining ever since. My guess is that we will be able to start planting by the end of next week ( April 21),” said Kaitlin. “We are looking at average precipitation for the month of May with more above-average rainfall in the northern part of Idaho. Transitioning over to June, we will see above-average precipitation in our region which will help with us being in El Nino throughout the summer.”

“Overall, with harvest we should be OK on the timing. What will really affect harvest will be our June, July and August weather. If we get our spring wheat in late and it gets really hot in June, our yields will definitely show it. But we have record acres of soft white spring wheat going out this spring for the PNW as a whole.”

It seems that both regions are prepared to plant late, but it wouldn’t be the first time for either of them and they are still expecting great yields come harvest.

What is the current status of spring wheat planting in your region? Let us know on WestBred® wheat’s Facebook or Twitter, or by emailing the.tiller@westbred.com.