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Montana wheat production up sharply
Associated Press, September 2, 2004
Montana wheat production is expected to reach 174.3 million bushels, a huge increase over last year as timely rains boosted yields to some of the best levels in years, the Montana Agricultural Statistics Service said Thursday.

The average winter wheat yield is 41 bushels an acre, the highest since 1993, when it was 42 bushels an acre, the service said. The spring wheat yield is expected to be 31 bushels an acre, up sharply from last year, while the durum yield is looking to near record levels with its expected 32 bushels an acre, the service said.

"It all comes down to timely rain. Rain makes grain, and it makes you smile," director Peggy Stringer said. "I love it."

Barley yields also came up big, the service said, averaging a record 59 bushels an acre; the average yield last year was 40 bushels an acre. Higher yields helped push production to an estimated 49 million bushels, the highest since production hit 50 million bushels in 1999, the service said.

Barley production nationwide is estimated at 280 million bushels, up from 278.2 million bushels a year ago. The average yield is a record 69.5 bushels an acre, the agency said, with Montana among several states to see record barley yields.

Meanwhile, wheat production in the state is estimated at 174.3 million bushels, up from 142.3 million bushels, with spring wheat and durum looking strong, the service said.

Spring wheat production is expected to be 89.9 million bushels, up from 60.5 million bushels in 2003. The big increase is owed to higher yields and more planted and harvested acres, the service said. Durum production in the state is expected to near a record with 17.6 million bushels, the service said. Durum production last year was about 14.5 million bushels.

Stringer said those numbers could change in the coming weeks because farmers in parts of the state are still harvesting. Durum and spring wheat got off to a late start in some areas, and cooler weather during the growing season affected the rate of development, she said.

Concerns with frost or other problems arise the longer harvest takes, said Lola Raska, policy associate with the Montana Grain Growers Association.

As of Sunday, the durum was just 60 percent harvested, according to the statistics service. By that time last year, harvest was complete.

Montana winter wheat production for 2004 was lower than last year - 66.8 million bushels, compared to 67.3 million bushels. The service said that while summer rains helped boost yields, farmers had abandoned some acreage because of dry spring conditions.

Nationwide, all wheat production was 2.16 billion bushels, down from 2.3 billion bushels last year with winter wheat and durum production lower, the service said.
MGR Archive 3.10.2004
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