Wheat planting delay in North Dakota nears record

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A wet spring has delayed many farmers from planting corn, soybeans and wheat, but in North Dakota, wheat planting has been delayed the longest in 32 years.

North Dakota is the second largest wheat producing state in the United States, behind Kansas. Farmers are saying the delay in planting this year is the latest since at least 1981 since the fields are so muddy from such a wet spring.

U.S. Department of Agriculture data show the slowest planting pace in 32 years, when records first started being kept. USDA says as of June 2, farmers had planted 62 percent of the spring wheat crop. The delay may limit planting to 4.7 million acres, which is the fewest since 1969 and 24 percent less than the 6.2 million forecast by the USDA, Mike Krueger, president of Money Farm, a grain market adviser told Businessweek.com.

North Dakota can’t seem to catch a break. Winter wheat being harvested this month was dented by the one of the worst droughts this country has seen since the 1930s. A wet spring is delaying spring wheat planting, which will reduce this crop’s yields. State data shows that rain in Fargo, N.D., was the wettest on record since 1881.

The state climatologist told Businessweek.com that it has been a particularly wet spring for the region.

“This is an unusually wet event,” Adnan Akyuz, state climatologist, said in an interview with Businessweek.com. “Corn and wheat are supposed to be emerging from the ground and getting to a stage where they can draw moisture from the soil, and it’s not doing that. It’s muddy and wet compared to if we had vegetation in the soil. This wet and cool weather is ruling farmers’ lives.”

Krueger said the planting delays may force many farmers to switch to soybeans or sunflowers or leave fields fallow as 2.23 million acres remain unplanted and more rain is expected.

USDA forecasted on March 28 that North Dakota would plant 7.65 million acres of wheat this year with 81 percent being spring wheat.

Worldwide, wheat output is expected to surge this year after many wheat growing areas around the globe suffered reduced yields at the hands of drought. Wheat farmers around the world have planted more wheat to make up for the lost revenues, which is now expected to lead to a record output of wheat this year. Global inventories are projected to increase 3.4 percent to 186.4 million tons, according to the USDA.

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