November 12, 2019 / 10:28 AM / 25 days ago

Column: Crop Watch - Terrible N. Dakota soy result, stronger showing for Nebraska corn

LONDON (Reuters) - Although the U.S. corn and soybean harvests are still notably behind schedule, things are nearly complete for the U.S. Crop Watch fields, as both the Nebraska corn and the North Dakota soybeans were finished on Friday. The corn was above average, as expected, but the beans were very disappointing and the worst-yielding of the 16 subject fields relative to normal.

Soybean crops are seen ready for harvest as farmers struggle with the impacts of weather and ongoing tariffs resulting from the trade war between the United States and China that continue to effect their agricultural businesses in Ottumwa, Iowa U.S. October 5, 2019. REUTERS/Kia Johnson

The Crop Watch harvest began on Sept. 26 with the corn in Kansas. As of Monday, just the North Dakota corn remains.

Crop Watch 2019 has been following 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 evaluated yield potential weekly starting in June 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. A score of 4, for example, is above the recent field average by about 5% to 10%. The eight-state corn and soy averages are not weighted.

The final eight-field yield average for soybeans is 3.22, down from the previous 3.28 on a worse result in North Dakota. The corn average is unchanged at 3.25. For comparison, the unweighted 2018 final Crop Watch yield scores were 3.94 for corn and 4.06 for soybeans.

This will be the final regular Crop Watch update of the year, as harvest is winding down in most locations. An off-cycle update will be issued when more is known about the subject corn field in North Dakota. The full results from this year can be found in the accompanying table. Last year’s results are also provided for comparison.


The subject soybeans were harvested on Friday and the yields were about 30% below the field average, easily scoring a 1. The producer previously hoped for at least 1.5 but had a suspicion yields would be much worse once other results started coming in. Extremely wet conditions all year were the main culprit.

The beans were cut between 17% and 22% moisture, so they will need to be dried before they can be sold. Moisture of about 10% is very common at harvest for the area, and the elevator does not consider them dry until about 13.5%.

The producer estimates that soybeans in the state could be as much as 90% harvested as of Sunday, but corn progress has been very slow in his immediate area. Moisture levels are still near 30%, which is extremely rare. It is more typical in the area to harvest corn closer to about 20%, and elevator operators call corn dry at about 14.5%.

Yield expectations for the corn field remain at 2, and the harvest date is still unknown. Corn harvest does not typically wrap in North Dakota until the end of November, but the field conditions and weather have not cooperated. With the ground so wet, below-freezing temperatures are needed to support the equipment. However, Monday morning’s temperatures near 0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius) are too cold and could damage equipment.


The Northeast Nebraska Crop Watch corn field was harvested on Friday and the yield was in line with expectations at 4.25. The producer reports that the area observed a very wide range of corn and soybean yields this year, and about 30% of fields were disappointing. The local bean harvest is just about complete while corn harvest has advanced to around 80% complete versus 50% a week ago.

In East Central Iowa, the Crop Watch grower reports that the late-planted corn had surprisingly good results relative to expectations for the farmers who stuck with full-season corn. Those that switched to shorter varieties are not as lucky, and quite a few farmers in the area made the change since planting was delayed so much in the spring.

In Central Indiana, the producer reports that corn harvest is about 50% complete versus 25% a week ago and that soybean harvest has progressed 10 points to about 90% complete. He notes that the June-planted corn is not disappointing at all so far. He was harvesting a corn field on Monday that was planted on June 6, and the yield would approach 5 on the Crop Watch scale.

The South Central Minnesota grower reports that last week was a slow one for harvest due to the snow and cold. Corn harvest progressed about 10 points to 70% complete. On Monday morning, the area was having the same issue as North Dakota with too-cold temperatures.

Corn and bean harvest along with winter wheat planting have wrapped in Central Kansas. Harvest is also mostly complete in Southeast Illinois and Central Ohio, and both of those producers report that the soybean results in their areas were relatively better than those for corn.

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

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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