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Big harvest strides slowing this week

Jeff Caldwell 10/28/2013 @ 3:39pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Dry weather let farmers get a lot of work done in the field in the last week, and that's got corn harvest just slightly behind the normal pace, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report.

As of Sunday, 59% of the nation's crop is out of the field compared to the previous five-year average of 62%. That's a 20% progress step in the last week, USDA data show. Soybean farmers made even bigger strides in the last week, taking that crop's harvest head-to-head with the previous average pace. As of Sunday, 77% of that crop was harvested, a 14% increase in the last week.

Winter wheat planting and emergence saw good-size boosts in the last week, too, with both inching 1% ahead of the normal pace at 86% and 65%, respectively.

“It was a busy week in farm fields across the state as 20% of the corn crop and 17% of soybeans were harvested,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.  “Farmers worked long hours to make as much progress as possible since wet weather is forecast for the week ahead that could again slow harvest.”

Progress, for the row crops anyway, will see a major cutback in the next few days, as a pair of major rainfall systems make their way through the Midwest, bringing rain starting late Monday to the western Corn Belt and pushing east through the next three days, forecasters say. That will likely usher in a few days of drier conditions, then a second rain system in the 11- to 15-day window, says Don Keeney, senior ag meteorologist with MDA Weather Services.

"The bulk of the rain will start in the western Midwest later today and Tuesday, then spread across the central and eastern Midwest Wednesday and Thursday," Keeney says. "Thus, harvesting will be stalled during that time. However, I think harvesting will pick up again by the weekend, and remain good through early next week before another system, albeit much weaker, rolls through around November 6."

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