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Better weather moves farmers closer to wrapping up harvest

Agriculture.com Staff 11/30/2009 @ 2:48pm

It's been as long and drawn-out a harvest as many farmers in the Midwest can remember. But after a week of favorable harvest weather and another one seen ahead, the final page of this year's harvest could be finally turning.

Still today, just over 1/5 of the country's corn remains in the field. The bad news is that's almost 1/5 behind the normal pace. The good news is a good weather window's opening for the next week, during which time, that remaining 1/5 could make it into the bin.

As of Sunday, 79% of the corn crop's out of the field. It marks an 11% jump from the previous week, but remains 18% behind the normal pace for this week. Soybean progress, which was included in this week's USDA report for likely the last time this year, was tallied at 96%, just 2% off the usual pace.

The gap in corn harvest may shrink considerably this week. Last week's weather was dry and unseasonably warm in most areas where moisture's plagued harvest progress most of the fall. That's expected to continue through this week, allowing farmers to make a late-season rush to completion.

"It was a favorable weekend for late-season harvesting activities in most of the Corn Belt...Probably most notable about weekend weather was the warmth of Saturday, with high temperatures in the 50s and 60s over much of the region," according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., on Monday. "Harvesting weather will continue to be favorable for much of the Corn Belt throughout this work-week period and probably into the weekend with little or no precipitation expected during that period."

But, it's already past the point of no return for the end of this fall's harvest for some farmers. Moisture levels in some areas are down into the much more manageable teens and lower 20s, but others say it's late enough that they'll leave their remaining acres until either the onset of a widespread hard freeze or later.

"About 40 acres left and it will have to freeze the ground to get them," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member northcorn. "Maybe only 40% [corn done] for the area," adds northwest Iowa farmer and Marketing Talk member klondike54. "Personally, my best hope is for the weather to get cold so I can make a pile on the ground right out of the field and deal with it later."

Looking ahead, progress may be again hampered if grain remains in the field beyond the end of this week, adds Freese-Notis. A system destined for the western and central Corn Belt is expected to bring precipitation that could change conditions drastically.

"I suspect that around December 9 we will see a bigger winter storm system take aim at the region," according to Freese-Notis. "That one is obviously a long ways off, but right now looks to be pretty potent and probably will be one that gives the Corn Belt the first storm of the season that produces snowcover that sticks around for a while."

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It's been as long and drawn-out a harvest as many farmers in the Midwest can remember. But after a week of favorable harvest weather and another one seen ahead, the final page of this year's harvest could be finally turning.

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