Crop scouts predicted hard red spring wheat in the northern United States will produce a record 48.6 bushels per acre if it makes it to harvest in August and September without encountering harsh weather or disease.
They arrived at the estimate after touring fields in North Dakota, northern South Dakota and western Minnesota this week, where they saw healthy crops with little or no disease.
"The fields look absolutely fabulous," Ben Handcock, a tour official, told Farm Futures on Thursday. "If it continues to develop like it looks today it is going to be a really good crop."
Using USDA's estimate of 5.8 million harvested acres, a 48.6 yield would put North Dakota's production at nearly 282 million bushels, up 5.7% from USDA's latest estimate of 266.8 million and up 20% from the 2013 harvest.
Much of the spring wheat was planted late because of a wet spring and that will put harvest for many fields deep into September, increasing the chances for harsh weather.
"That is the only risk that I see," Handcock said of harvest-time weather.
Forecasts for the next two weeks call for normal to below-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall in North Dakota, which Handcock said would be good for the crop.
"It doesn't need any precipitation. I think that would be good for the crop," he said of the forecasts.