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Update: Harvest pace heats up

Jeff Caldwell 10/04/2010 @ 3:50pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Corn and soybean harvest continues to motor along ahead of schedule, and judging by the weather forecast for at least the next week to 10 days, it looks like the quick pace will continue.

What a difference a year can make: A year ago Sunday, 9% of the nation's corn crop was harvested. As farmers start what should be another dry, warm week of harvest, 37% of the crop is already out of the field, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. That's not just way ahead of last year's rain-soaked, drawn-out harvest; it's almost 2 times the previous average pace.

Soybean harvest was also at 37% completion as of Sunday. Though that's not quite as far ahead of the normal pace, it's up from 14% a year ago and the 28% previous average.

Progress for both corn and beans is best in the central Corn Belt (Illinois' corn crop is 74% harvested and 50% of the beans are out of the field), while states further west, like Nebraska and Minnesota, remain a little closer to the average pace (Nebraska's soybean harvest is 32% complete compared to the 29% previous 5-year average as of this week).

It doesn't look like the harvest pace will be slowed by Mother Nature anytime too soon, forecasters say. Frost did hit parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin over the weekend, according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., but that shouldn't put much of a damper on warmer-than-normal daytime temperatures. With this extended forecast, mid-October could see many harvest operations near completion.

"We may very well be to the middle of next week before there are any rain chances in the heart of the Corn Belt again, but there are no indications of any real big amounts in that period," says Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis. "It continues to be an amazingly dry weather pattern for the nation's midsection coming up, one that makes it likely that there will not be a lot of corn and soybeans left to harvest in parts of the Midwest by the middle of this month."


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