September 30, 2019 / 3:33 PM / 2 months ago

Column: Crop Watch - Corn yields rise as harvest begins, soy slips on soggy weather

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - Corn harvest has begun for the U.S. Crop Watch producers, and the results are proving better than expected thus far. However, soybean expectations have suffered on poor late-season weather. Recent and upcoming wet weather will keep many farmers grounded in the coming days, especially in the western and northern areas, and harvest has yet to ramp up significantly in the eastern states.

A field of spring wheat growing near Niagara, North Dakota, U.S., July 20, 2019. REUTERS/Dan Koeck

Crop Watch 2019 follows one corn and one soybean field in eight major U.S. Corn Belt states, reporting on weekly progress as of Sunday. The fields belong to the same eight growers from last year’s Crop Watch.

Each week, the producers evaluate yield potential on a scale from 1 to 5. The lowest score is well below farm average, 3 is near farm average, and 5 is well above.

The eight-field average for corn yield increased to 3.41 from 3.25 in the previous week on better-than-expected harvest results in Kansas and Indiana. That is the highest average corn yield score of the season so far.

Soybean yield expectations fell to 3.06 from 3.19 in the previous week after unfavorably wet and stormy weather reduced expectations in North Dakota and Nebraska. The current score is among the lowest weekly scores of the season.

EAST CENTRAL NORTH DAKOTA

Corn yield remains at 2.5, but the producer reduced soybean yield to 2 from 2.5. The field was way too wet all season and the weaker parts of the field are looking even worse after the latest round of rains. The producer reports that the area is as wet or wetter now than it was during the spring after the snow melted. This has severely slowed field work in the area and reduced crop quality in many cases. A lot of the corn in the area has yet to reach maturity, and the progress is slow as temperatures have not been sufficiently warm. Local producers remain on watch for frost or freeze threats.

SOUTHERN MINNESOTA

Corn and soybean yield scores remain at 3.75 and 4, respectively. The corn should reach maturity in a couple of days. Last week’s weather was decent, with much-needed sunshine mixed in periodically. Rain is expected early this week, which the producer is not thrilled about as it will delay the drying process for the crops. Some soybeans have been harvested in the area, and so far the results are not different from what was expected.

NORTHEAST NEBRASKA

Corn yield remains at 4, but the producer reduced soybean yield to 3 from 3.5 because of the recent weather. Parts of the area have received more than 10 inches (25 cm) of rain in the last 18 days. Some hail also moved through last week, knocking some of the beans out of the pods. Wet, stormy weather is likely to continue early this week. If the rains stopped today, the soybean field may be ready for harvest in about 10 days and the corn as early as two weeks. The mood is very depressed in the area as the extremely wet weather looks to severely delay this year’s harvest.

CENTRAL KANSAS

The producer finished harvest on the corn field on Thursday, and the final yield score came in at 3, up from the expected 2.5. The corn was highly variable across the field with OK quality and average test weight. Some parts of the field had plenty of moisture which led to higher yields, but other parts were more susceptible to late-season heat and dryness during pollination and grain fill.

Soybean yield remains at 3.5, and the field should be ready to cut in about 10 days. Warm, windy weather has rapidly dried down the crop. The producer has about 25% of his winter wheat planted, earlier than normal in efforts to beat the large amount of rain expected this week. He is also very pleased with how the sorghum looks.

EAST CENTRAL IOWA

Corn and soybean yield scores remain at 4 and 3.5, respectively. The last several days have been wet and hardly any harvest progress has occurred in the area. Wet weather is expected to continue early this week. Both Crop Watch fields should be ready for harvest as soon as they dry out, which the producer expects will be about a week. Field work should ramp up significantly in the area as soon as the rain stops.

SOUTHEAST ILLINOIS

Corn and soybean yield scores remain at 3.25 and 3, respectively. Parts of the soybean field will be ready for harvest this week, but the replanted portion will likely have to wait. The first planting of corn will likely be ready to go next week, while the replanted areas will probably be harvested a week or so after that. The producer says it is possible for the replanted corn, seeded 15 days later on June 2, to out-yield the firs- planted corn. Harvest is just getting going in the area, and early results are mixed.

CENTRAL INDIANA

Soybean yield remains at 3, but the producer increased corn yield to 3 from 2.25 after starting harvest on the field on Friday. He stopped because moisture levels became too high, but he expects to resume on Wednesday. The soybeans are just starting to turn yellow but are predominantly still green, and this is true for most fields in the area. The soybeans were the final Crop Watch field planted, which was on June 14. Barely any harvest activity has taken place in the area.

CENTRAL OHIO

Corn and soybean yield scores remain at 3.75 and 2.5, respectively. The soybean field will likely be harvested later this week and the corn should be ready in about 10 days. Harvest activity is starting to ramp up in the area, more so for soybeans than corn. Results remain mixed, with better yields farther east and worse ones to the west.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters. 

Field photos and more information on Crop Watch 2019 can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #CropWatch19 or by following the handle @kannbwx.

The following are the states and counties of the Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Griggs, North Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Cedar, Iowa; Crawford, Illinois; Boone, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.

Editing by Matthew Lewis

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