CHICAGO (Reuters) - Harvest activity has finally started picking up for the U.S. Crop Watch growers, and both the yield expectations and final outcomes are slightly better for both corn and soybeans than what most of the growers had predicted all season.
Four of the eight Crop Watch soybean fields have been harvested, and two more are in progress. Nebraska and North Dakota have yet to start on the beans, but Nebraska may get started in a of couple days. Two corn fields are complete, Kansas and Indiana, and up to three more could begin this week.
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. For simplicity, the eight-state averages are not weighted in any way.
The eight-field average for corn yield increased to 3.47 from 3.44 in the previous week on a slight improvement in Nebraska. That is the highest average corn yield score of the season so far.
Soybean yield jumped to 3.41 from 3.31 in the previous week on minor increases in Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. That is also the highest soybean yield score of the season.
Corn and soybean yield scores remain at 2.5 and 2, respectively. Harvest activity remains at a standstill in the area, and most producers have no idea when they will be able to proceed, or if crops will be able to come out of the fields before winter. There were about 20 inches (0.51 m) of wet snow over the weekend, though the fact that many of the corn plants were still green may have been helpful since they were relatively strong and withstood the weight of the snow. Producers are more worried about the soybeans than the corn right now, but there are moisture and quality concerns for both.
Corn and soybean yield scores remain at 3.75 and 4, respectively. The producer began harvest on the soybeans on Tuesday, but finished only 35% of the field since the rest was too wet. Based on other early results, he thinks bean yield could slip to 3.75 when the field is complete. The corn field will probably be ready around Nov. 1. The producer estimates about 25% of beans have been harvested in the area, but no corn has been done. The area received a light dusting of snow on Saturday.
Based on other early harvest results, the producer bumped corn and soybean yield scores up by a quarter point each: corn to 4.25 and soybeans to 3.25. The area was finally dry last week, but field conditions were and are still wet, so harvest activity was still very slow. The producer thinks the subject bean field can be cut later this week and the corn in about two weeks. Temperatures fell below freezing on three separate nights last week, but the producer thinks the likely impact on corn was small.
The producer began harvest on the soybean field on Friday, though 10% of the field is still not ready for harvest. The producer left the soybean yield at 3.5 but thinks that upon completion, the final score could move to 4. He estimates about 15% of soybeans and 75% of corn have been harvested in the area, and that winter wheat planting is up to 60% complete. Harvest results in the area have been mostly average so far, and the upcoming week of weather looks favorable for field work. The subject corn field was harvested on Sept. 26 with a final yield of 3.
The Iowa soybeans were harvested on Wednesday with a final yield score of 3.75. The producer had been expecting 3.5, and he attributes the better results to improvements in technology and fungicide. The corn yield remains at 4 and that field should be ready for harvest this week if everything goes well. There was not a lot harvest activity in the area last week, but things should pick up this week with the mostly dry forecast earlier on.
Corn yield is unchanged at 3.25, though there is some potential downside due to other disappointing results in the area. The producer tried to start the corn last week, but the field was not ready. Last week was wet in the area, and bean harvest was going strong before the rains came. The subject soybeans were harvested Oct. 1 with a final score of 2.5, lower than expected. But the producer reports that some of the later-planted beans in the area have turned out respectable yields, which is encouraging.
The subject soybeans were harvested on Sunday with a final yield score of 3.25, slightly above the previous expectation of 3. As was true with the corn field, the producer believes that despite the planting hardships and poor-looking crops earlier in the season, sufficient rains and favorable temperatures in August really made the difference in supporting yields. The corn field was finished on Oct. 2 with a final result of 3.
Corn yield is maintained at 4, and the field may be harvested in a couple of days. The producer was hoping for slightly better results on his other corn fields, but the results are not necessarily disappointing. Some of the best ground has yet to be harvested. Area farmers have been making good progress on the bean harvest and the corn has also gotten a good start. The soybean field was harvested on Thursday and yield ended at 5, well above the expectation of 2.5.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst 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