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• By all accounts, the 2012 U.S. wheat crop across the country is progressing far ahead of schedule in most areas.
Maryland a week ahead
In Maryland, Jason Scott, who farms in the Delmarva peninsula near Stevensville, said his wheat is about a week ahead of schedule, but cooler weather this week slowed crop progress a little.
Spring wheat planting is also ahead of schedule in most areas, with producers taking advantage of mild weather conditions to get their wheat in the ground.
According to USDA’s April 8 Crop Progress report, 21 percent of the crop has been planted, compared to 3 percent last year and the five-year average of 5 percent.
In North Dakota, 8 percent of durum and 17 percent of spring wheat has been planted. Erica Olson, marketing specialist with the North Dakota Wheat Commission, said producers are planting spring wheat and durum at least a month earlier than last year, when wet conditions delayed and prevented planting.
Farmers are also ahead of the five-year averages in both South Dakota, where 52 percent of spring wheat is seeded, and Minnesota, where 25 percent is seeded. In a normal year, farmers in both states would just be starting planting.
In contrast to most areas, farmers in northern Idaho and eastern Washington have seen greater precipitation that has slowed spring wheat planting. Scott Yates, director of communications for the Washington Grain Commission, reported that farmers were initially worried about a drought this year, but now are so water logged they may be late getting into their fields.
USDA reports that farmers have planted 15 percent of their spring wheat in Idaho and 26 percent in Washington, behind the five-year averages of 23 and 37 percent, respectively.
While the crop is mostly ahead of schedule, farmers across the country acknowledge that weather in coming weeks could have a large effect on the harvested crop.
A late frost, too little moisture or damaging storms could still hurt the wheat crop. But, for now, they are relatively optimistic.