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Harvest steps ahead; crops stabilize -- USDA

Jeff Caldwell 09/10/2012 @ 3:24pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Corn conditions were unchanged from a week ago as farmers made another 5% dent in corn harvest, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report.

As of Sunday, 15% of the nation's crop is in the bin, up from 10% the previous week, Monday's report shows. That comes as corn condition ratings stalled at 22% in good to excellent shape and 52% in poor or very poor condition, the same as the previous week.

Meanwhile, soybean conditions improved slightly in the last week, with 32% of the crop now in good or excellent condition versus 36% in poor or very poor shape, Monday's report shows. And, farmers have begun bean harvest; last week's report showed no conclusive soybean harvest data, while Monday's shows 4% of the crop is out of the field.

Monday's numbers come as more farmers begin to speculate on just how far short of trend this year's crops will wind up as more yield reports start to roll in.

"Been in enough corn now and heard enough reports that I don't see any way we get close to a 140-bushel [average corn] yield. Seems to be running 20 [bushels/acre] less than expectations," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk contributor bronzebacks. "What a year. Worse than '88 in north-central Iowa."

But, not all expectations are that poor. Market analyst Alan Kluis says as the focus starts to shift more squarely on yield reports coming in from the field versus crop conditions, he's seeing more potential for improved reports down the road.

"More attention is now on actual yield reports. As the harvest works north yield reports are improving," he said Monday.

But, on the other hand yield reports like bronzebacks' are fueling even more anxiety about the notion of "peak corn," or the time at which the world's demand for the crop will overshadow supply to the point where prices will stay spiked in the long term.

"Several yield reports starting to roll in as expected. The complacency of this market is impressive...too scared to buy, too scared to sell," says Marketing Talk senior contributor Mizzou_Tiger. "And since it's probably only going to get worse in the supply side, it looks like it's a waiting game to see just how bad the crop is.

"We may very well see $3 and $4 corn and $9 and $10 soybeans again, but we shouldn't," he adds.

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