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Harvest isn't far off for the Corn Belt

Jeff Caldwell 08/24/2010 @ 3:31pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Take a look at Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report and you'll see numbers where there were blanks not long ago: The "Corn Mature -- Selected States" chart shows that upwards of half or more of the corn crop is mature -- and being combined -- in the Deep and mid-south, and it won't be long until there are combines kicking up dust in the Corn Belt (weather permitting).

Already, 13% of Illinois' corn crop is ready to go. That's up from the normal pace of 5% mature by this week, according to USDA. Iowa, Indiana and Ohio and Nebraska farmers are just starting to see mature corn (less than 10% in each of those states). And, just south of the Corn Belt, corn maturity percentages range from the 30s to the 70s.

"I'm in southwest Kentucky, and we've been very dry. Combining is 40% to 50% done here," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member straw man. "Yields are from 19 to 150-ish. Keep in mind this farm averaged 229 last year. Zero rain for 60 days will take the top end off. I know Kentucky yield will be off 40 bushels from last year on average, statewide."

Further south, in areas like Louisiana, harvest is already working its way toward conclusion, with some farmers reporting lower yields than what they expected (See more).

Those types of yield reports aren't spoiling the party for other farmers in the Corn Belt, though. With drier weather expected this week and moving forward, it looks like the corn that's almost ready for the combine -- like in Doug Martin's area of central Illinois -- will get a big boost from this week's heat.

"With all of the hot weather the corn is drying about 1% point per day. We had some corn test between 27%-30% last week. With the continued warm/dry weather we are planning on starting the week August 30," Martin said Sunday on his farm's blog. "We did get some more good rains this past weekend which will continue to help the beans along. A lot of our soybeans look really good. They are very tall and have a lot of pods on them. With all of the moisture we have had in the past few weeks they should yield really well. This week we will be crossing the 'T's' and dotting the 'I's'as we know that it will be our last chance to get caught up before we cross the finish line."

And, Martin's not alone: On Monday, Cargill Senior Grain Merchandiser Ray Jenkins said colleagues in central Illinois told him they expect farmers in some spots to take their first spins around the field by Wednesday.

"Definitely by early next week, though by the 25th, there will be harvest activity over there," says Jenkins, based in Eddyville, Iowa. "Those guys planted corn in the first 10 days of April, and it's coming on. Now, we're going to enter into a 5-day period where it will be the driest of the summer.

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