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Corn harvest finish line in sight

Jeff Caldwell 10/16/2012 @ 7:12am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Corn harvest will be over before we know it.

Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report shows farmers are almost 80% through this year's harvest, more than twice the normal pace. As of Sunday, 79% of the crop was out of the field (vs. the average pace of 38%), with Iowa and Illinois both sitting at 87% completion and other key states well ahead of normal. Iowa's pace is 57% ahead of normal, according to Monday's report.

Though farmers in some states have tackled soybean harvest ahead of corn harvest this fall -- lifting states like Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa to 99%, 98% and 93% completion as of Sunday -- there's just shy of one-third of the soybean crop left to harvest. Monday's report shows 71% of the crop is harvested, compared to the previous average pace of 58% by this week.

Though some farmers in the northern part of the Corn Belt say they've been surprised by the yields they've achieved this fall in view of this summer's drought, moisture worries don't appear to be fading. Rain did fall over the weekend in parts of the Corn Belt, but it's far from enough to ease the drought stress that some fear will rear its head again next spring, only worse.

"Some farmers received welcome moisture this weekend, as many wrap up harvest and see soils that are very dry and will need significant rainfall to replenish both topsoil and subsoil moisture levels," Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said Monday. "Now that many farmers have completed harvest, it is important that they wait for soil temperatures to be below 50 degrees and falling before doing anhydrous ammonia applications."

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