Winter wheat planting is right on schedule in the U.S. right now, but the fall harvest is well ahead of average. This is no surprise, as the crop has shown advanced maturity since catching up in June. Near ideal weather over much of the Midwest has contributed to record yield projections, but struggles with price expectations.
Monday, USDA released the weekly Crop Progress Report which gives their latest estimates of crop conditions generally and specifically, the harvest progress of corn and soybeans, and the planting progress of winter wheat.
It is no surprise that the nation’s corn crop is 16 percent harvested, versus a normal 11 percent. We gained 7 percent in one week. The Ohio corn crop, being farther north than much of the nation’s growing area, lags the U.S. progress, but is at 6 percent, above the 4 percent average for this date. Ohio farmers had only harvested 2 percent at this time last week, and only 3 percent at this time last year.
Similarly, the nation’s soybean crop is now 14 percent harvested, up from 6 percent last week. Last year we had 9 percent done at this time, but the average is 8 percent.
Ohio farmers have cut 6 percent of the soybeans, but were barely started this time last week, at 1 percent. Six percent is the average, although we only had 4 percent off this time last year.
I suppose it is significant that corn and soybean ratings for the country were one percent better in the total of the “good” and “excellent” categories. In recent weeks they have slipped, and I am curious what has changed that we lose a percent one week and gain it back the next. I suspect it is just subjective observation.
The U.S. corn crop is now rated 69 percent good and excellent, up one from last week. Last year at this time, the rating was 61 percent, so it is easy to see that the corn crop is expected to yield more bpa, even if we have fewer acres.
Similarly, the national soybean crop is rated 68 percent good and excellent. This is up 1 percent for the week, and 8 percent better than we had at this time last year.
Wheat in the ground
Winter wheat planting is just getting into full swing in Ohio, but other areas have made progress just ahead of normal. Since the norm for Ohio is now to plant wheat after beans, we see the bean harvest and wheat planting numbers running together.
The nation has 28 percent of the winter wheat crop planted, up from 13 percent last week. The average is 26 percent. Ohio has just got started, with nothing reported last week, but 2 percent now off. This is a little slower than we saw last year, when 3 percent was planted by now. The average is 5 percent at this date.
Prices of corn and soybeans have rebounded nicely from the pitiful lows of a week ago, but are still sad. The new USDA production and carryout numbers caused markets to sag some more.
We have been reeling from export fears as we are well into the trade war, especially with China. The reality of the third huge crop in a row just makes it worse.
This Tuesday morning December corn futures are trading at 3.60, down a half-cent. This is 17 1/2 cents above the September 18th contract low of 3.42 1/2, however. The recent high was 3.88 1/2 on the last day of July. That now seems like a distant, but possible, target.
November soybean futures are trading 8.46 this Tuesday morning, up a nickel. This is almost 34 cents above the 8.12 1.4 low of the same Sept. 18.
Thank God for small, green apples, I guess.
Chicago December wheat futures are trading at 5.22 1/2, down four and a half cents. This is more than 27 cents above the recent low on Sept. 13. The contract low was at 4.90 back on July 11, so the last dip did not give us a new low.
As I visited with a farmer friend over dinner last night, we recounted why we did not get enough grain sold when it was worth something. The highs for corn and beans came on May 24, and it seemed early. Seasonality demanded that we had another month, but we didn’t.
The weather turned around, the delayed planting was no longer delayed, and we have now experienced four months of “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”
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