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Harvest moving quickly into the Corn Belt

Agriculture.com Staff 09/07/2007 @ 2:24pm

Farmers posting in the Agriculture Online Marketing Talk discussion groups say they're seeing this accelerated progress throughout the nation's midsection. And at the same time, some early yield tests are showing surprising results.

Factoring in conditions that for one reason or another hampered crop progress at points during the growing season, the early harvest timeframe might mean yields are down. But, some Marketing Talk members say they're not finding crop damage that this year's flooding and severe drought conditions would usually promote. Instead, some early yield tallies are coming in slightly above what was expected just a few weeks ago.

"We started [harvest] a week ago last Monday. The early corn that did not get replanted is dry and yielding better than expected," says Marketing Talk member Don NMO of his area of northern Missouri. "We will raise more corn than last year on less rain. Not sure why. I would plan on a bigger crop than many expect."

Don NMO's tally of his own crop is shared around his area, according to this week's NASS Crop Progress and Condition report for the state of Missouri. The report shows a drydown in the last week to 10 days has brought the northern Missouri corn and soybean crops to or near maturation after four to eight inches of rain fell there in August.

"Early yield reports in northern and west-central areas range from near-average to excellent," according to the NASS report for Missouri. Thus far, the report indicates 16% of the state's corn crop was harvested by Labor Day, and 57% of the crop is mature.

Moving into Illinois, early yield reports are also higher than anticipated even just a few weeks ago, according to Marketing Talk member John From S. MN. This leads the south-central Minnesota farmer to believe he "may have underestimated this corn crop by four to eight bushels per acre.

"I have some contacts in east-central Illinois who say early yield reports show corn is around 225 bushels per acre. That is about 30 bushels more than they thought a month ago," he writes. "It is too early to say that we have a definitive trend of substantially better yields out of everywhere, but we are starting out that way."

Statewide, this week's Illinois Crop Progress report indicates 73% of the state's corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Labor Day. With the majority of the state's topsoil drying up (65% short or adequate as of this week), harvest will be moving quickly through Illinois this week and next.

"Combines were going strong in many areas across the south as farmers were harvesting their early maturing corn crop. In other areas of the state, corn harvest was only beginning as farmers shelled end rows off attempting to find their fields with lowest moisture levels," according to this week's NASS Crop Progress report for Illinois. "Farmers across most areas of Central and Southern Illinois will begin corn harvest in earnest after Labor Day."

"We are definitely better than '06, when I had some of the lowest yields in my 15 years of farming," writes Marketing Talk member west illini. This year, I have some corn almost as good as in '04. It all just depends on soil types and if it died early or not."

west illini says his corn's coming out of the field around 15% moisture and with a 58-pound test weight.

The story is slightly different in Indiana, where weeks of drought conditions have weighed on the corn crop. Forty-three percent of the state's corn was rated good-to-excellent at the beginning of this week, down 30% from a year ago. Corn maturation, however, is more than double what it was a year ago -- 25% compared to nine percent in '06. As of early this week, "most of the corn harvest was occurring in the southwestern region of the state," according to this week's Indiana Crop Progress report.

In west-central Indiana, Marketing Talk member 090965 says he's begun picking shorter-season corn and yields haven't blown him away, but he expects better yields later on.

"I have harvested some early-planted 108-day corn that made 195 bushels per acre at 19% moisture and 185 bushels at 18% moisture. We think our fuller-season corn looks a bit better," he writes. "The corn we have been shelling has died prematurely due to the lack of any good rains in the last seven to eight weeks."

Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report indicated corn maturation is well ahead of schedule for this time of year (Read more).

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