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Harvest pace jumps with mixed results

Jeff Caldwell 09/18/2012 @ 10:09am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

More than a quarter of the nation's corn crop is in the bin. That's a record for some farmers and near one for others. And, forecasters say with few weather delays expected in the next few days, the breakneck pace will likely continue.

Monday's weekly USDA-NASS Crop Progress report shows 26% of the U.S. corn crop is in the bin, up from 15% a week ago. That's a full 17% ahead of the average pace overall, and key states like Illinois at 36% complete and Iowa at 22% are way ahead of the normal pace (23% and 20%, respectively).

Though still in its early stages, soybean harvest is also ahead of the normal pace; as of Sunday, 10% of the U.S. bean crop is out of the field, up from 4% last week. Four percent is also the normal harvest pace for soybeans by this week.

"Three years ago in 2009, the national corn harvest did not surpass 26% done until the second day of November! The Illinois corn harvest is more than one-third done, with over half of the harvest done in Kansas, Kentucky, and Missouri," says Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., senior ag meteorologist Craig Solberg. "The national soybean harvest at ten percent done as of September 16 also appears to be the most ever for that date, with about 6% done in 2000 and 2006 being the biggest amounts prior to this year."

Corn yield reports continue to stream in all across the board. Some farmers say they're finding a few spots of good yields -- some even above trend yield. But, those reports are eclipsed in number by those well below trend on account of the drought conditions. One farmer says in Agriculture.com Marketing Talk his annual production history is around 170 bushels/acre. But, he won't come close to that this year.

"It's very disheartening to combine 50-bushel corn," says Marketing Talk veteran contributor centralillinois, who farms in Livingston County, Illinois. "Luckily I have enough 100 bushel corn to make me feel a little better."

The silver lining to the drought cloud this fall is what it's meaning to harvest progress. Paul Butler, who farms near Macon, Illinois, says his soybean prospects are much better than his corn, and he's already wrapped up corn harvest and is turning into his soybean fields.

"Corn harvest went so fast it still seems like we should be starting. Corn yields were a bit disappointing -- about 30 bushels/acre below last year. So I was kind of ready to get that behind us and start beans," Butler says. "We have only been going in beans for 2 days, but so far the yields look fantastic! Undoubtedly the best we have ever had."

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