October 29, 2019 / 11:10 AM / 16 days ago

Column: Crop Watch - Corn, soy harvest advances, except for in North Dakota

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - The U.S. Crop Watch growers report decent progression of the corn and soybean harvests last week, and the overall sentiment toward the crop is unchanged on the week. However, parts of North Dakota continue to struggle in the wet conditions, which are preventing harvest equipment from entering the fields.

Soy bean seeds are seen in a container at a farm in Gideon, Missouri, U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Four of the 16 Crop Watch fields remain: the corn in Nebraska, Minnesota and North Dakota, and the soybeans in North Dakota. The Minnesota and Nebraska fields should be harvested in the next 10 days. North Dakota is still waiting for the ground to either dry out or freeze before harvest activity can ramp up.

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.

The producers have been evaluating yield potential weekly on a scale from 1 to 5 since June. The lowest score is well below farm average, 3 is near farm average, and 5 is well above. A score of 4, for example, would be above the recent field average by about 5% to 10%. For simplicity, the eight-state averages are not weighted in any way.

The eight-field yield averages for corn and soybeans both remain unchanged this week at 3.28. For comparison, the unweighted 2018 final Crop Watch yield scores were 3.94 for corn and 4.06 for soybeans.

Analysts predict data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday afternoon will show the U.S. corn harvest at 43% complete and soybeans at 62%. That would be up from 30% and 46%, respectively, in the previous week.


Yield expectations for the corn and soybean fields remain at 2 and 1.5, respectively, and the harvest date is still unknown. Last year’s corn field was completed Dec. 12 with a final yield score of 4.5, and the soybeans were cut Oct. 25, scoring a 4. Fields in the immediate area are still far too wet to attempt harvest, but some producers are doing so anyway, and a lot of equipment is getting stuck. Producers that are cutting soybeans are having to run them through a grain dryer as they are coming off with moisture levels between 17% and 21%.

The producer estimates that at most 20% of summer crops have been harvested in the area, and local growers are getting very anxious about the financial situation and next year’s prospects. Loans for next year will be difficult to secure without the capital from this year’s harvest, and this is just one of the factors tempting producers to push the boundaries on harvest.


Expected corn yield is unchanged at 3.5, but the producer suspects possible downside based on results from some nearby fields. The corn should be harvested this week. The soybean field was cut on Oct. 18 with a yield score of 3.25. Last year’s fields both scored 3, so the 2019 fields may be slightly better, though potential was reduced by overly cool and wet weather. The grower estimates that up to 90% of beans and 20% of corn have been harvested in the area.


Expected corn yield remains at 4.25, but the harvest may still be up to 10 days away. The soybeans were cut Oct. 17 with a final yield of 3.5. Last year’s fields both scored a 4. The producer estimates about 85% off beans and 15% of corn has been harvested in the area, and excessively wet conditions are not as much a problem now as when harvest began. Yield results in the area are mixed, but the producer says fewer people are disappointed with yield than are satisfied with it.


The soybeans were cut Oct. 18 with a final yield of 3.5, and the corn was finished Sept. 26, scoring a 3. Last year’s corn scored a 1 and the soybeans 2.5. Corn is about 95% complete in the area and soybeans about 75%, and that is up about 10 and 15 points on the week, respectively. Winter wheat planting is about 95% complete. The producer notes that soybeans turned out relatively better in the area than corn, and that sorghum performed exceptionally well. The sorghum harvest is about 60% complete.


The corn was harvested Oct. 19 with a final score of 3.75, and the beans were cut Oct. 9, also finishing at 3.75. Last year’s fields both scored a 5. The producer estimates the area is about 30% done with corn and 60% done with soybeans as of Sunday, and the moisture levels remain high in both crops. Yields in the area are coming out slightly better than expected so far.


The corn field was completed Oct. 18 with a final yield of 1.75, and the soybeans finished on Oct. 1 at 2.5. Both scores were below expectations. Last year’s corn field ended at 4 and the soybeans 4.5. The producer estimates that about 80% of beans and 50% of corn have been harvested in the area, up about 5 and 20 points on the week, respectively. Yields are coming in below expectations across the board. Heavy rains over the weekend will prevent field work from rapidly progressing this week.


The soybeans were harvested on Oct. 13 with a score of 3.25, and the corn was completed Oct. 2 with a final yield of 3. That compares with scores of 5 last year. Soybeans are up to 80% completed in the area, a jump of nearly 40 points on the week. Rain slowed down field work over the weekend, but the producer hopes to get restarted on Monday.


The corn was harvested on Oct. 17 and the beans on Oct. 3, and both fields scored a surprising 5. Last year’s corn field scored a 5 and the beans 4.5. The bean harvest is nearly complete in the area and the corn is about 75% done, both a rise of about 30 points on the week. The producer notes that the yield results are mixed, but the fields getting better results are overwhelmingly those that drain moisture efficiently. He estimates about half of the fields in the area have a good drainage system.

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

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