GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — This year’s wheat crop in the upper Midwest is expected to produce fewer bushels than last year’s, though officials expect the grain to be of better protein quality.

Wet conditions in the spring and excessive heat and humidity in the summer all worked against wheat yields in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Montana, Agweek reported.

Randy Englund, executive director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission, said crops in that state did not produce the bushels that the straw stand indicated.

“Sixty-bushel straw, 40-bushel wheat,” he said.

However, Englund said this year’s crop generally has higher levels of protein, which is important to millers and bakers because it affects the quality of their products. That means higher prices for farmers, which will help offset the drop in bushels.

Minnesota wheat farmers did not have a particularly good year, with yields generally down, said Dave Torgerson, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers. Some farmers might switch to more corn and soybeans next year, he said.

In North Dakota, wheat yields vary greatly, even from farm to farm.

“We’ve had reports (of spring wheat yields) in the teens and in the 40s a few miles away,” said Jim Peterson, marketing director of the North Dakota Wheat Commission. He said the average yield statewide is likely to be down from last year.

The situation is much the same in Montana, where officials expect an average crop with wide variations.

“The reports vary a great deal,” said Lola Raska, executive vice president of the Montana Grain Growers Association. “Some (farmers) say this is the best harvest ever. Other say it’s dismal, a disaster.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issues its annual small grains production summary in late September.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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