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In the homestretch: Crop snapshots

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    The homestretch is here for the 2013 corn and soybean crops. Though some say harvest activity in the Corn Belt could begin as soon as next week, there's a lot of development that needs to happen before some fields are ready. And, conditions range widely. See the latest farmer updates here.

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    Though there will likely be a lot of subpar yields in the Corn Belt this fall, things are looking good so far, though "nothing to brag about" in North Carolina, where Marketing Talk contributor Tarheel farmer's getting started.

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    "Yield reports I have heard have been fair to good, but nothing to brag about, 150-180 bpa hits about the average. Wet weather this summer caused some yield hits," Tarheel farmer says. "My full-season beans here look very good but the guys that have double-crop beans are WAY behind, some finished planting the end of July."

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    Back in the Corn Belt, Marketing Talk senior advisor Hobbyfarmer was walking "that weedy bean field" over the weekend. The soybeans are behind the normal pace, development-wise, and weeds are becoming a bigger problem as fall begins.

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    Here's another photo from Hobbyfarmer. Though it's not his, he says it's fairly indicative of the kind of conditions in his area of southern Iowa. "Lots of weakness in many of the fields around here," he says.

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    Here's an aerial shot from Marketing Talk veteran contributor Mike NCIA's farm showing the bare spots that indicate how much damage his crop's incurred from the combination of a wet, cool spring and hot, dry late summer.

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    This soybean field, photographed by Marketing Talk veteran contributor hanktbd in east-central Illinois, shows how much damage the recent heat has inflicted on the crop. "These are about dead. three weeks ago, they looked like 50 bpa beans. Lucky to make 20 now," he says.

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    The corn in hanktbd's area isn't much better off. "Corn suffering also. Probably lost 30 bpa last week," he says. "This corn should have had another 10 days to fill the kernels before the husks turned."

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    Despite the dryness lately, early harvest efforts in the northern Corn Belt haven't been very fruitful on account of crop moisture. "Here I thought I could start harvesting tomorrow and capture some of that early harvest price premium," says Marketing Talk frequent contributor mnvtfarm.

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    And while it's been hot elsewhere, it's the lack of heat that's been the biggest problem of late for mnvtfarm, who tested these ears over the weekend. "The air temp today was only in the 70s. This can't be good. I hope I can pick up a little test weight before freeze-up."

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    Hobbyfarmer says he took this photo at dusk over the weekend. "Four stalks of corn and only 7 ears. Must be the refuge-in-a-bag one that was the slacker?" he says.

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    "Beans still have a chance here at the Hobbyfarm," Hobbyfarmer adds. "They could have benifitted from a rain of more than one or two tenths this morning as they are still growing but have finally started putting 'bumps' in a few of the pods."

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    Conditions are a little better further east. East-central Indiana farmer and Marketing Talk advisor ECIN pulled these ears over the holiday weekend from a field of 110-day corn planted May 2 that had 2 passes of sidedressed nitrogen.

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    "Notice the ear tipped back? And the plant is shorter. Every one of the shorter plants is tipped back," ECIN adds.

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    There's more noticeable drought stress in fields in ECIN's area. This portion of a field near his farm is on sandier soil and is several shades drier than a greener portion of the field just yards away, he says.

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    Things are in much rougher shape northwest of ECIN. In west-central Wisconsin, Marketing Talk frequent contributor WCWISC says crop potential's dwindled quickly. "These fields were green 10 days ago. I've never seen crops burn up so fast," he says.

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    The recent heat's just been the latest in a string of weather challenges for the crops in WCWISC's area, he says. "Looks like the cool temps earlier were hiding a lot of the drought stress. It's been a difficult year. 14 inches of snow in May. Wet as hell until the end of June. Now this."

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    "With all the doom and gloom -- 'this crop is a failure, it is going to freeze the end of August, and the guys up north will all see their corn die on September 18 and it will be nothing but barren stalks...' -- thought I would post some pictures I took of some of my corn I took today," says Marketing Talk frequent contributor dairyfarmmn late last week.

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    This corn, dairyfarmmn says, was planted on June 14. It's an 86-day variety. "Sixteen [kernels] around and I counted 30 long (didn't count all the way to the end) and final stand of 32,700," he adds.

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    Planting date and season length have been major variables in dairyfarmmn's corn this year. "Cob on the left is the 100-day corn...planted on May 29," he says. "Cob on right is a 95-day corn planted on June 3."

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    Here's Hobbyfarmer checking on some of his soybeans. "Still gaining height...6 inches since last week. Wish they would spend that energy and water growing pods and beans," he says. "Going to be slow going again this year to process all the material through the combine just to find a few beans."

Corn and soybean conditions are varied, though many farmers say they expect disappointing yields this fall.

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