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Monster harvest strides

Jeff Caldwell 10/12/2010 @ 3:25pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Corn harvest passed the halfway point this week as the dry, warmer-than-normal weather continues.

Farmers have 51% of the nation's corn in the bin, according to Tuesday's USDA Crop Progress report. That's up from 37% a week ago and 20% above the previous 5-year average. At this time last year, only 13% of the corn crop was out of the field.

Midwest states saw huge jumps in harvest progress: In Iowa, 19% of the corn was picked last week. As of Monday, that number more than doubled to 40%. Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska also saw similar gains.

Soybean harvest went almost as smoothly overall in the last 7 days. As of the start of this week, just over 2/3 of the soybean crop is out of the field (67%) compared to 37% last week. Farmers in some states made monstrous strides in their bean fields: Iowa farmers went from 38% to 80% completion in beans over the last week, while Minnesota soybean farmers sat at 82% completion at the start of this week compared to only 29% last week.

"We finished beans on October 4. That's a record by a week," Bode, Iowa, farmer Chris Weydert said Monday. "This just feels like a vacation after harvest the last 2 years."

Though soybean yields are at or above last year's crop, corn yields continue to come in 10 to 15 bushels/acre lower than most farmers expected. And now, after USDA reflected these types of numbers in its monthly Crop Production report last Friday, the market is taking note. Tuesday saw the grains settle sharply higher for the 3rd straight day, and with continued strong crop demand abroad, ongoing lower-than-expected yield reports will kepe the markets moving higher.

Looking ahead, the weather will likely keep the harvest pace blistering through the remainder of October, allowing many farmers to get things wrapped up before some even got started a year ago.

"This still looks to be one amazingly dry weather pattern for the Corn Belt and nearby areas. Most of the western Corn Belt will get little or nothing for rainfall for the rest of this week, with rains in the east well under a half inch (and plenty of places there also getting nothing)," according to the Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., Weather Market Commentary on Tuesday. "There is uncertainty in the 6-10 day outlook, but right now I would lean towards once again very little rain in the Corn Belt in that period."


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