Crop Progress, Changing Season Ignorance
According to NASS: Dry conditions and warm temperatures were observed across Montana during the past week, according to the Mountain Regional Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA. Reporters across the state continue to note that the grasshopper infestation is creating extensive damage to crops and pastures. Topsoil moisture conditions for the state were 31 percent adequate to surplus, compared to 32 percent in the previous week and 69 percent the previous year. Subsoil moisture conditions were rated 33 percent adequate to surplus compared to 65 percent the previous year. Barley harvest made good progress last week, with an estimated 69 percent of the crop harvested, ahead of the previous year at 63 percent, but behind the 5-year average of 80 percent. Corn for silage harvest is slightly ahead of schedule, with an estimated 10 percent of the crop harvested, ahead of both the previous year at 7 percent and the 5-year average of 8 percent. Dry edible bean harvest is slightly over halfway complete, with an estimated 54 percent of the crop harvested. Dry edible pea and lentil harvest is starting to wrap up, with an estimated 92 percent of the dry pea crop and 89 percent of the lentil crop harvested, compared to the previous week at 80 percent and 77 percent, respectively. Durum wheat harvest progresses ahead of the previous year, with an estimated 46 percent of the crop harvested, compared to 24 percent the previous year. Oilseed harvest continues to progress well, with an estimated 37 percent of flaxseed and 54 percent of the mustard seed crop harvested, both well ahead of the previous year. Safflower harvested is estimated at 20 percent complete, ahead of the previous year and 5-year average at 1 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Oat harvest made significant progress, with an estimated at 77 percent of the crop harvested, ahead of the previous year at 52 percent and the 5-year average of 72 percent. Spring wheat harvested is estimated at 74 percent complete, significantly ahead of the previous year at 43 percent, and slightly ahead of the 5-year average of 72 percent. Second cutting for alfalfa and other hay is progressing ahead of the previous year, with 74 percent of alfalfa and 62 percent of other hay harvested. Winter wheat harvest is coming to an end, with an estimated 93 percent of the crop harvested, ahead of the previous year at 83 percent, but behind the 5-year average of 94 percent. Due to dry conditions, cattle and sheep moved from pasture has started early, with an estimated 6 percent of both cattle and calves and sheep and lambs moved from pasture. Reporters are noting that grasshoppers, along with the dry conditions, are depleting pasture condition and stunting regrowth across the state.
Spring and winter wheat have now caught up to our 5-year average for harvest progress. Barley and durum are lagging the 5-year average but still ahead of last year. The durum conditions have digressed, possibly due to late planting and grasshopper infestation, 10% shifted from good to fair. Yet the durum cash prices have declined or remained to what many consider low. Durum being a flat priced commodity with smaller volumes traded, seems to have higher price volatility. Not only that, U.S durum stocks are much lower than average. Durum buyers must be confident they will be able secure their volumes for the year, either way please BUY durum!
Canadian winds brought much cooler temps the last week. The morning dew/moisture on the crops have delayed combining till afternoons into the night. It was 60 F/15 C degrees in my house this morning unlike the normal 85 F/29 C I have gotten used to. Changing of the seasons brings significant milestones I try to refrain well past the norm. Shutting the windows in your house, wearing a jacket, turning on the heat in house/car and craving hibernation foods (soup and scotch ale). If everyone could refrain from doing these things, we can pretend it is still summer.
Thankfully, it is looking like it will heat up again giving longer windows to harvest and then plant winter wheat. 1 year ago, there was snow in the forecast, I see nothing of that nature yet.
In last week’s MGGA crop condition survey I noticed something interesting.
Robert Bold of Fergus County – “After our rain shower last week, we have been noticing that 10 to 20% of our hoppers have Spinochorododes Tellinii. It is a parasitic nematomorph hair worm. The hair worm secretes a protein in the hopper's brain that make the hopper seek water. That give the hairworm the opportunity for reproduction. Should the host not find water, the hairworm grows to about 4 times the length of the hopper inside the hopper. Eventually the hopper explodes from the inside out. Mother Nature at work.”
According to MSU’s ag alert: “Hot dry spring seasons favor grasshopper survival while cool wet springs cause juvenile mortality. Large region-wide outbreaks typically last 2-4 years and collapse as natural diseases build up in the population. Mortality of overwintering eggs due to cold temperature is usually not significant.”
The last time we had a hot and dry spring was 2017. Which would put us in year 3 since a large outbreak. Is it possible that the Spinochorododes Tellinii which is a parasitic nematomorph, is this the disease outbreak that is spoken of? That could mean a brighter future in the years to come concerning grasshopper populations.
The photo credit goes to my amazing wife who took these as we drove by just a few min east of Great Falls. Montana should consider changing their nickname from “Big Sky” to “Big Blue Sky”, it has been this beautiful ALL summer.
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