‘Groundhog Day’ weather drags on

harvesting soybeans
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

In the classic movie, Groundhog Day, Bill Murry endures months of waking up in Punxatawney, Pennsylvania, condemned to repeating the same day. Our harvest this year seems to be an echo of Groundhog Day.

Nothing has changed much in the last week, and I struggle to write something that sounds like news.

As Bill would say, “Same old, same old.”

After an October that had more dry days than I can ever remember before, our harvest ground to a drizzly halt the last couple of weeks. Then we were parking trucks in the fields while we filled them.

Now we park them in carefully graveled driveways. We have returned to our traditional November, with gray skies, rain mixed with drizzle, and the occasionally really nasty storm.

Residents of Williamsfield, near where I live, are sheltering with neighbors and in motels after the last November blast. One drizzly day runs into another.

Still in fields

On occasional days the combines run corn, but the late beans in northern Ashtabula County are still in the field. The corn harvest was great while it lasted, but it did not last long enough.

We need a few good days to get us going again. As we regroup for another try at harvest, the market is doing nothing.

Corn futures trade in a narrow range just above the contract low. We go up a penny or two one day, down the next.

One day we will have a reason to be higher, but I don’t know why or when right now. Soybean futures rallied 80 some cents off the low a few weeks ago, but in the last couple of weeks have moderated back down 35 cents or so.

Traders are now starting to focus more on planting in the Southern Hemisphere than on harvest here.

One bright spot, if you call it that, is the thinking that the bean crop has been overestimated. We will have a new USDA Supply and Demand Report Thursday, and there is hope that the yield will be dropped .6 bpa to 49.3.

Crop progress

That could perk up a market that was down 12 cents one day and up seven the next. It is good news only if it is the neighbor’s beans that are off a little! The weekly USDA Crop Progress Report came out Monday afternoon, Nov. 6.

There are all kinds of interesting data in it, if you just like data. Maybe you want to check the progress of the cotton harvest. Maybe you are desperate to know about sorghum, or peanuts, or sugarbeets harvested.

Most of us just care about corn and soybeans, with a little wheat planting progress thrown in. The report tells us that Ohio is lagging in the corn harvest, both historically and in comparison to the U.S.

The soybean harvest, on the other hand, has caught up to normal, and is virtually identical to the nation’s progress. Ohio farmers have now put 60 percent of the corn in the bin, at home or in town.

By comparison

That is up from 48 percent last week, which is not really much gain for this time of year. I would be Northeast Ohio has gained less this week than the state as a whole.

Last year at this time, we had 79 percent of the crop off, and the five-year average is 74 percent. The U.S. corn harvest is ahead of the Ohio harvest even more than normal.

We are 70 percent done as a nation, up from 54 percent last week, but way behind last year’s 84 percent and the average 83. The Ohio soybean harvest is at 90 percent, identical to the U.S. harvest.

We were at 85 percent last week, but 94 percent last year and we have a 90-percent average. The U.S. had 83 percent done last week, but was at 92 percent last year against a 91-percent average. The big corn and bean harvests continue to pressure prices, although corn is not being priced as fast as normal.

Whether by storage or delayed price, traders acknowledge that farmers are holding ownership away from the elevators.



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