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Crop snapshots: More highs and lows

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    After a few cooler days, the heat's cranking back up around the Corn Belt, and that continues to take its toll on the corn and soybean crops heading toward harvest. But, there are a few bright spots. Here are some of the latest farmer photos from around the nation's row crop fields.

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    Agriculture.com Marketing Talk senior contributor Blacksandfarmer took this picture the other day in one of his south-central Michigan fields. This field, a 109-day hybrid, was planted on May 2.

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    Here's a shot of "how dry it has gotten" in Blacksandfarmer's fields. The U.S. Drought Monitor last week showed much of the central, western and northern Corn Belt is between abnormally dry and under severe drought.

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    The heat has been getting to everybody. Blacksandfarmer wasn't getting much help from his "scouting partner" here, Sarge.

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    Here's "an average-size ear" he picked from that 109-day-variety field. He says he's seeing a lot of ear tipback like on the one shown here.

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    Soybean conditions in Blacksandfarmer's area are highly variable. He says this is one of the better locations in one of his fields.

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    And now, for the other end of the spectrum. "Same field of beans, just on a sandy spot," he says. "Dry weather is starting to take its toll."

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    Though his fields have taken a lot of heat and dryness, a few showers in between the hot spells have "stopped the decline" and kept damage from being too severe, says Marketing Talk contributor NateWCMN.

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    Here's an ear in that same west-central Minnesota field, only on sandier soils. NateWCMN expects about a 70-bushel-per-acre difference in yield between the 2 spots. "The heat hit my fields with longer maturity varieties at a more critical stage, and they have smaller cobs / kernels on the sandy spots and some tipback in the heavier areas," he says.

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    Things are in much rougher shape in Missouri, where Marketing Talk contributor seedy took this photo late last week.

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    The soybean crop is well behind its normal development pace on Marketing Talk frequent contributor gbryce's west-central Missouri farm. These beans were planted on July 11.

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    Here's a pod from that late-planted field, showing just how far behind normal the crop is. "Need some time yet," gbryce says.

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    Here's the other end of the spectrum for gbryce. This pod's from a field planted almost a month earlier on June 14. Planting date's clearly made a huge difference on his farm.

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    Here's the canopy for that better field of gbryce's, whose area shows it's not facing as severe of heat and drought stress as some areas further north, the Drought Monitor shows.

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    Here's a soybean field in east-central Indiana, where Marketing Talk advisor ECIN raises corn and soybeans. Though far from a bumper crop, ECIN says his crops are going to be a "lot better than last year," when his fields were hammered by the drought.

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    Some combines are already rolling in ECIN's area. Here's his neighbor picking corn Saturday, and ECIN says he expects much better yields than a year ago too.

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    Harvest scenes like these will become the rule, rather than the exception, in the next few days, adds Ray Jenkins, senior grain merchandiser for Cargill in Eddyville, Iowa. "I expect week of September 16 will be quite active as folks try to capture the new crop basis opportunities," he says. "This heat spell brought the crop forward 5-10 days pretty easily."

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    Marketing Talk frequent contributor mnvtfarm has been out scouting fields on his south-central Minnesota farm the last few days. "Scouting some of those recently brought back into production CRP acres," he says. "Glad it doesn't all look like this, I'd have to sell the Scout."

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    A crude oil pipeline runs under one of mnvtfarm's fields, and he says it's not tough to find where the pipeline runs. "Hot oil and no rain is not a good thing."

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    Soybean pod counts are underway in southwestern Ohio, where Marketing Talk senior contributor SouthWestOhio says a local agronomist "said she hadn't seen any plants over 31 pods today until she got here. Most were in the 50 pod range, all had at least a few 4-bean pods. This plant was near a sprayer track and really took off. 102 pods," he says.

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    Not everything's peachy in SouthWestOhio's soybean fields. He says sudden death syndrome has become a bigger problem than normal because of the heat and dryness. "For some reason it seems to like this 13-day dry spell," he says.

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    "Dry weather since the end of June is taking the top end off the yields here in central Illinois," says Marketing Talk veteran contributor hanktbd. "These ears are losing the top 1 to 2 inches of grain to tip back. It's all just potential 'til it crosses the scales."

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    On Marketing Talk senior contributor tree fmr's farm in east-central Iowa, this field was planted on June 14 "just before a monsoon rain." He was originally going to replant the crop, but rainfall prevented him from getting back into the field.

Variability's just about the only constant in crop conditions as harvest hears.

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