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Winter slamming the door on '09 harvest

Take a step outside in most of the nation's midsection this week and one thing's clear: Winter's here.

But, if USDA's weekly crop progress reporting is any indication, it's not time to sweep the shop and call it a fall just yet. Though we're now weeks past the usual ending point for USDA's weekly crop progress reporting, Monday saw more numbers tick down, moving the nation's corn harvest within a few percentage points of completion.

As of Sunday, 93% of the nation's crop is harvest, up 4% from a week ago. There's no previous data to compare to this year's progress to date; annual crop progress reporting had already wrapped up by this week in the season in each of the last 5 years. And, you won't find any soybean harvest numbers in this week's report, a sign that all the beans are in the bin.

Not so fast, says Marketing Talk member four-j. In fact, he's all but given up on some of his remaining soybeans in the field for fear his equipment will pay a hefty price in trying to continue in conditions he's seeing in his area of South Dakota.

"There are still a boatload of beans left. We have snow on the ground also, which makes combining beans difficult (frozen seives and concaves)," he says. "There are going to be a lot of beans left in the fields around here if we get a lot of snow. I'm going to leave some beans for sure because I'm tired of beating my equipment to death."

One look at the weather for the next couple days confirms that there will be some beans left standing in the field. Winter storm watches and warnings signify the arrival of a system that could leave up to a foot of snow in parts of the Plains and Midwest. From Wichita, Kansas, to Detroit, Michigan, the system will bring first snow, then high winds. And, that could close this year's harvest window for many farmers, according to Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc.

"Snowfall amounts in the eight to twelve inch range should be common from the storm for especially southeastern Nebraska, northeastern Kansas, northwestern Missouri, the southeastern two-thirds of Iowa, far northwestern Illinois, and southern Wisconsin; locally more than a foot could certainly fall in an area from the Nebraska/Kansas/Iowa/Missouri border region northeast along Interstate 80 in Iowa," Notis said Monday. "Winds will be rather strong tomorrow but will really start to howl out of the north and northwest for tomorrow night and Wednesday to create all sorts of blowing and drifting problems.

"Getting remaining corn acreage in the Midwest harvested with this weather is going to be difficult, if not impossible in some areas, and this could be weather that forces some fields to stand until next spring," he adds.

Take a step outside in most of the nation's midsection this week and one thing's clear: Winter's here.

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