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Update on Winter Wheat Conditions

According to NASS: The month of February produced cooler winter conditions and fluctuating temperatures across the state of Montana, according to the Mountain Regional Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA. Reporters across the state noted they received a couple of decent storm events in February, which improved the snow cover and provided needed moisture. A cold snap pushed temperatures below historical averages, with temperatures dipping below zero into the third week of the month. Temperatures then began to slowly rise closer to the historical averages towards the end of the month. Low temperatures ranged from the low 40s to -20s. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, approximately 97 percent of Montana is abnormally dry or in a current state of drought, with about 8 percent of the state in severe or extreme drought. Topsoil moisture conditions were 47 percent adequate to surplus, up slightly from 43 percent in the previous report. Subsoil moisture conditions were 49 percent adequate to surplus, equal to the previous report. Snow coverage for the state has improved greatly this month, with 57 percent rated good to excellent, compared to no snow cover rated good to excellent in the previous report. Winter wheat condition is rated 69 percent good to excellent, up minimally from 68 percent in the previous report. Reporters in Judith Basin and Prairie counties stated the severe cold and wind chill may have affected the already stressed winter wheat crops. Pasture and range conditions declined slightly from the last report with 11 percent rated good to excellent. Livestock producers are providing supplemental feed at a normal rate, with 97 percent of both cattle and calves and sheep and lambs being fed. Overall, weather for calving and lambing has been excellent, and reporters only heard of minor losses during the sub-zero temperatures. An estimated 3 percent of calving and lambing has been completed, compared to 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, the previous year.

 

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The month of February has been filled with snow and deep freeze conditions. Snow cover was a welcomed condition for the winter wheat crop. Discussions of frost damage have been across the state, there has been some damage, but new moisture events have advanced the conditions in a positive direction. 

 

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As producers begin to plan for spring planting. We would like to remind you of the dangers of buckwheat in your rotation:

 

A common sentiment across the state has been the prospective of more spring wheat planting. Barley prices have not been impacted by the current trade climate, a lot of bushels have been heading north into feed markets due to Canadian barley exports, while 2021 malt demand has decreased. IF we get adequate moisture this summer, we could see another huge spring wheat year. 

Let us continue to hope for continued moisture across the state. Many discussions of new barley export relationships have taken place this winter, MWBC is hopeful new avenues will open shortly. Winter in Montana offers some incredible recreation, get out enjoy a powder day and consume wheat and barley products =)

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-Sam Anderson

 

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