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Corn conditions, harvest progress stable as rain starts falling

Jeff Caldwell 09/20/2010 @ 3:58pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Corn harvest is rolling right along at almost twice the average pace for this week of the year, USDA-NASS officials say in Monday's weekly Crop Progress report. But, crop conditions were unchanged from last week's report, which triggered a corn market rally that's still underway today. And now, the weather's turning soggy in parts of the Corn Belt where the combines have been rolling. Will Monday's numbers and upcomign weather translate to more fuel behind this recent corn rally?

First, the numbers: As of Sunday, 68% of the corn crop is in good-to-excellent condition. That's unchanged from last week, though the "excellent" category slipped by 1 percentage point while the "good" category gained 1%. Farmers made good strides with harvest last week; As of Sunday, 18% of the crop's out of the field, up from 11% last week. On average 10% of the corn is picked by this week.

Yield reports continue to trickle in all across the board, but with most on the lower, disappointing side. Farmers in central Illinois are reporting yields around 10 to 15 bushels per acre lower than last year, while others in places like Indiana are seeing better crops than they've had in years.

Looking at harvest weather moving forward, rainfall chances will be heightened through this week, according to Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Rainfall is going to be a big story for this work-week as well," he said Monday. "There will likely not be a whole lot today, but by tomorrow morning we will see scattered thunderstorms in the northwestern Corn Belt and that will start a period where rain is falling in some part of the Corn Belt right through Friday."

The good news is temperatures will remain at or above seasonal levels, Notis adds, and that will make the rainfall less of a threat to a 2009-like prolonged harvest.

"This rain, combined with rain last week and over the weekend, will probably start to create fears of another 2009 harvest season," he adds. "However, I remain of the opinion that we are going to dry things out nicely in the Midwest next week and will start the month of October on a fairly dry note as well."

Does all this add up to a continued run-up in grain prices? Monday saw at least a pause in a week-long rally in prices, but that doesn't mean the upside potential's all worn out in the pits, says PRICE Futures Group vice president and market analyst Jack Scoville.

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