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Harvest wrapping up; wheat needs rain

Jeff Caldwell 10/25/2010 @ 3:32pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Another week of big-time harvest strides has passed, and at this rate, the 2010 corn and soybean harvest will be at or near its end. But, the same dry conditions that have sped row crop harvest is starting to send the Plains winter wheat crop into dormancy massively short on moisture.

The breakneck speed of harvest continues; as of Sunday, 83% of the U.S. corn crop was harvested compared to the previous average of 49% for this week. And, remember last fall's torturously slow, drawn-out harvest? Monday's progress is 63% further along than it was a year ago.

The same goes for soybeans: Though the pace isn't quite as far ahead as with corn harvest, it's still in sight of the finish line. As of Sunday, 91% of the U.S. soybean crop was in the bin compared to the previous average of 72%. This year's progress is 51% ahead of this week last year. And, it's a record: The previous record for harvest speed came in 2005, when 88% of the crop was harvested by this week.

See more from Monday's report

This will probably be the last week that the corn and soybean markets pay any attention at all to the weekly harvest progress numbers," according to Monday's Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., Weather Market Commentary.

The greater development in the weather over the last week took place west of the Corn Belt. After months of drought conditions in Plains wheat country, late last week and the weekend brought rainfall to the region that many thought would be a much-needed boost to the undernourished crop.

Rain did fall in the southern Plains and Delta region, but the system fell far short of what the crop needed in many parts of the nation's center.

"Last weekend's storm was a bust in terms of rainfall for the Kansas wheat crop and the long-range forecast doesn't hold much promise," says Aaron Harries with Kansas Wheat. Much of the western half of that state received less 1/4 of an inch of rain, with a handful of counties statewide receiving from 1/2 to 1 inch.

See where the rain's fallen lately

This week likely holds one more "threat" of moisture. "We still need to get rain into the winter wheat areas of the Corn Belt, and they still have another threat. That threat is for mainly late tonight and tomorrow, and looks good enough to produce a lot of 0.50-1.00" amounts in that area," according to Freese-Notis.

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