It should not surprise us that rainy weather has delayed harvest. It delayed planting, and cool weather did not allow the crop to catch up. So, here we are, absent government reports as USDA is catching up from the shutdown, and guessing just what has been harvested. Whatever it is, it is not enough.
The surprise may be that the farmers are getting so much done on good days. USDA issued the Crop Progress Report Oct. 21, and it showed the corn and bean harvest catching up. Soybeans are now 63 percent harvested, versus a 69 percent average. The corn is only 39 percent versus the average of 53. This would show that we are concentrating on the beans.
Ohio is doing better than the western corn belt where most of the problems are. We have only 31 percent of the corn off, but our normal is only 36 percent at this time. We are doing better than the rest of the soybeans, with 71 percent harvested, ten more than the five-year average.
Rain and rumor of rain is dominating the markets. The early corn harvest, especially in the South, has been at record yield levels. That is currently reinforcing the idea that USDA is right about a record crop. It is also trying to crush basis, but cannot get the job done while the main harvest area in the Midwest is slow. In some areas the beans are just started. In most areas the beans are well off, but the bean heads have now come off in the rain so that corn can be run on scattered dry days.
Locally, progress is better than would be expected for the weather we have had. Credit this to farmers willing to harvest wet beans instead of doing nothing, and to a general upgrade in harvest equipment that has pushed along the harvest on good days. One local producer told me last week that they were cutting 40 acres of beans an hour with two combines, while a third was doing food grade beans. It makes me feel old. I remember when 40 acres of beans was a day’s work.
Some ethanol producers have struggled to get corn to operate on, and there have been spot shortages of beans to fill out early shipment contracts. Both of these problems are easing this week, but the weather forecast for continued rain does not indicate that we will ever have a real harvest glut, even with the big corn crop.
Looking at prices, we so far have made the corn harvest low on Oct. 14, at $4.32 December futures. Since then we have traded above that low for five days, and early trading here on Oct. 22 is the sixth day. We are currently a dime above the low, at $4.42-3/4. The recent high was back on Aug. 26, at $5.08-1/4. That seems a long way away now.
The soybeans are also in their sixth day above the low. In November futures, which we will stop using this week, we saw $12.61-3/4 on Oct. 14, a bad day for prices. Currently we are trading $12.96-3/4, which represents a nice bounce, and sill a respectable price.
While the corn and soybeans have been in harvest and struggling with price, the Chicago wheat has been in an up trend. The low was on Sept. 5, and 6.36-3/4 basis December futures. The recent high was Oct. 21, at $7.11-1/4.