Yields are bountiful, but fields still wet

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corn harvest
Corn harvest 2018.

Harvest stutters on across most of the Midwest. I listened in to a conference call of Midwest marketing advisors Monday, Oct. 9, and the tone was pretty universal.

Across the Midwest in general, rains have delayed harvest.

Most observers said that farmers were in the fields just two days last week. Those from southern Minnesota said nobody turned a wheel.

It seems that Ohio farmers are getting more work done than anybody else! Southern Minnesota has been the trouble spot for the entire summer.

An article on the Progressive Farmer webpage this Tuesday morning, Oct. 9, details the season of heavy rains, tornados and high winds that have plagued them.

According to the article, there has not been further damage to yields because the three months worth of rain they have gotten in the last couple of weeks has just flooded areas that were drowned out earlier!

Making progress

Locally, farmers have been tearing into both corn and beans, with the corn mature earlier than I ever remember. Some farmers are doing beans first, citing green spots in the soybean fields. Early yield results, from those who are talking, are “liar’s yields.”

That is, farmers are shy about telling you they have corn as good as good as 220 bushels per acre, because they think you will not believe it.

Soybean yields are a similar matter, although I guessed a little high on the yield of the field across the road from my house, according to a message from the farmer. It still had to be the best crop ever from the farm.

Weather has not only been dry (except for brief showers); it has been hot.

Squeeze turned down the Monday night burger special at The Welshfield Inn because it was too hot to sit out on the patio, and that is the fun of going there.

Change ahead

That will change the middle of the week as we finally see fall temperatures. The forecast is for a drop to the fifties and sixties for highs the rest of the week. Some rain is coming into the forecast, although most of the Midwest is supposed to dry out.

Right now we are forecast to get rain Wednesday, and maybe Thursday. I bet this forecast gets worse as the coming hurricane comes up from the Gulf.

I hope it makes the right turn back out to sea early. The Columbus Day holiday gave us a long weekend without a futures market, and a lack of reports. The Monday USDA Crop Progress Report is now the Tuesday report, so I am unable to give you harvest progress numbers.

My guess is that the early harvest scenario is now gone. We started out ahead of normal, faltered in the report last week, and saw limited progress this last week according to my sources.

It would not surprise me if we are now ahead of the five-year average in Ohio, but behind over most of the notable grain areas.

The big report coming is the USDA Crop Production and Supply and Demand Report. We get that at noon EST Thursday. Traders assume it will confirm the large production numbers that have been released in the last ten days by private firms.

Bigger yields

The saying is that a big crop keeps getting bigger, and that is what we have seen in a progression of increasing production estimates. The privates say the crop is even bigger than recent USDA estimates, and it likely is.

The methodology of the USDA reports seems to be that the government is slow to show all the increase in yields they think there really is. That way, if they overestimate, the market is not jerked around when they cut an estimate after raising it too much.

The government will not exactly admit this, but it is my observation. Either way, we are still faced with a third huge crop of corn and beans, record corn and soybean yields, and a difficult picture in the marketing future.

What do we do to move all this grain, and how do we get the prices up? Prices have firmed in the last two weeks after the drop to lows on Sept. 18. That day, we saw December corn futures at 3.421⁄2, and November soybeans at 8.121⁄4.

Currently, on Tuesday morning, we are trading the December corn unchanged at 3.661⁄2 and the November beans at 8.661⁄2, down three and a quarter.

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