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U.S. Heat Is So Bad Farmers See a ‘Half Crop’ for Spring Wheat

  • Crop tour sees North Dakota yield slightly above USDA forecast
  • Higher protein levels expected to ease sting of lower output
A severely drought and heat-stressed spring wheat crop in North Dakota. The wheat was on average only 10 inches tall.
A severely drought and heat-stressed spring wheat crop in North Dakota. The wheat was on average only 10 inches tall.Photographer: Kim Chipman/Bloomberg

Sun-baked U.S. spring wheat fields have been so badly hurt by drought this year that some farmers are expecting to harvest what they’re dubbing a “half a crop.”

Plants are visibly stunted. So much so that when crop scouts toured the fields of top-producing state North Dakota this week they kept having to get close to the ground to inspect crops that were about 10 inches (25 centimeters) or shorter -- about a third of the normal size for this time of year. Large patches of dry soil could be seen in between rows. In better seasons, the ground isn’t even visible.