Better weather means harvest is rolling

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Fall harvest, 2018
Fall harvest, 2018.

Improving weather, especially in the western Corn Belt, is helping U.S. farmers stay on pace with the corn harvest, and begin to catch up with the soybean harvest. Heavy rains have plagued much of Iowa, southern Minnesota, and parts of other states.

This week saw a return to harvest after two weeks of slow down. Some western farmers got going again on Tuesday, some on Thursday. By this Monday, Oct. 22, most were into the “we can always sleep this winter” phase of harvest.

The U.S. corn harvest is now at 49 percent complete as of Sunday night. This is slightly ahead of the 47 percent average, and a gain of ten percent for the week.

The Ohio crop is at 47 percent harvested, up 16 percent in one week, and well ahead of the 41 percent average.

Half done

In NE Ohio, where the corn harvest is normally a November affair, I believe we are at least half done corn. For us, this is the earliest harvest of my lifetime, and the record yield. The shining star of the harvest is Illinois, at 82 percent harvested against a normal 66 percent.

Iowa leads the slow list, with only 29 percent off against a normal 38. Minnesota, which has had the worst weather in the south of maybe any state, is actually exactly at average, 35 percent, after a week that saw 17 percent of the crop harvested.

While farmers have been cutting corn, the beans have stayed in the fields, struggling with regular showers that keep them too wet to harvest. The nation lags the average, with 53 percent harvested against a 69 percent average.

Ohio is at 58 percent, behind the 70 percent average, but a gain of 15 percent for the week.

Locally, we have seen light evening showers that keep farmers out of the fields, but I am guessing we are ahead of the rest of the state. Normally this is the corner of Ohio that is done last.

The Midwest

Again, Illinois shows as being at the head of the harvest class. Illinois farmers have 74 percent of the crop harvested, against an average 70.

Iowa lags, with 37 percent off, but 71 percent the average. Iowans cut 18 percent of the crop last week as they made a push to catch up.

Minnesota went from 38 percent to 62 percent, but still are way behind the 87 percent average. Locally I am not seeing much wheat planted.

I am not sure how much of this is purely a price comparison, and how much is because farmers are determined to use good days to harvest corn and soybeans. I think the quality struggles the last few years have also limited acres. We seem to have just a few days a year to sell at a good price, but selling ahead is a heartache is the contract can’t be filled with damaged wheat.

Looking at prices, December corn futures are up a half-cent this Tuesday morning, at 3.70. The high came at 3.78-1⁄2 on the 15th, after the USDA Crop Production Report that was out on Oct. 11.

Better prices

USDA did not see the crop as being as big as the traders expected, and that helped prices. The recent low was a month ago, at 3.42-1⁄2, so we are still on a good bounce in a cheap year.

November soybean futures gained nearly 80 cents off the Sept. 18 low at 8.12-1⁄4.

The high came at 8.92 on the 15th of October, but we have lost our way back to 8.53 this morning. USDA had the soybean yield at 53.1 bpa against the average guess of 53.3.

The trouble is, the trade seems to be focusing on the increase in carryout. Last year we ended up with 438 million bushels left over.

USDA expects us to have 885 million when we finish this year, the end of August. This report added 50 million bushels to the carryout. Worst, the world supply is increasing even more than that. We are going from 96.65 mmt last year to 110.04 this year.

December wheat futures are struggling, at more than a dollar below the August contract high of 6.13. We are 5.09-3⁄4, and had a recent high in September of 5.31-1⁄4. The good news is that the expected carryout in our wheat is still a little below last year’s, and the world carryout is expected to drop almost 15 mmt.

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