Harvest is actually going better than it feels

harvesting soybeans
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

It seems like harvest is dragging. We keep getting rain, and from my office, it feels like nothing is getting done in the fields. Drive around, however, and I see that the rains keep soaking in and the corn fields are getting empty. The soybeans that are left are still left, however. A day of rain, then the corn head stays on because the soybeans are still too wet.

This harvest progress is reflected in official estimates, released each Monday. The U.S. is now 72 percent harvested, up from 61 percent last week and close to the average of 75 percent. Ohio is behind that, at 65 percent harvested. That is up nicely from 49 percent last week, even with rain delays. We are ahead of the 54 percent average.

Where we are lagging in Ohio is in our memories. Just last year we had a very fast harvest, and were at 85 percent at this time. We tend to remember the recent past as the norm.

The soybean harvest stats would show that the bean fields left here and there are an anomaly. The U.S. is at 87 percent, up from 76 last week. Ohio is at 88 percent harvested, up from 79 percent. This is actually above the 75 percent average, but lags last year’s frantic pace of 95 percent at this time. So, the soybean harvest is in better shape than it feels like, looking at the occasional field left undone.

Harvest prices gone

If we look at prices, it feels like harvest is over. This is partly because the harvest pace was so fast outside of Ohio, and partly this just reflects an early harvest low.

I anticipated this to be a year when we were slow to improve. Instead, the market seemed to expect cheap prices because of the big crops, and got the worst over with. We have actually rebounded nicely from the lows.

December corn futures made the low especially early, on August 31, at 3.14 3/4. We improved gradually to 3.59 1/2 on Oct. 20, broke to 3.46 1/4, then worked higher again. We are currently, on Tuesday morning (Nov. 1), at 3.53 3/4. At the high we were almost 45 cents off the low, which is a huge gain this time of year.

The January soybeans (November beans are no longer being used for pricing) are currently trading at 10.11. The bean chart shows four lows, all near the same price. In early August we touched 9.44 1/4. We started September at 9.40 1/4. We ended September at 9.40 1/2. In the middle of October we were back down there, at 9.45 1/4.

The January soybean futures had a pattern of lower cycle highs, but that has now been broken. The recent high of 10.31 on Oct. 27 is the highest price since July 20. We have been in a strong uptrend most of the last 12 sessions.

December wheat futures have been cheap and sideways for most of the last few months. This Tuesday morning we are trading down a couple at 4.13 3/4. The low was made back on Aug. 31, at 3.86 3/4.

We were mostly sideways until we had two days with large ranges of price, the 12th and 13th of October. That 13th we gained 19 cents, and followed with a nickel gain the 14th, to a close of 4.21. We put in a high of 4.28 1/4 in the process.

Wheat planting is at 86 percent, just under the 88 percent average.

The market is watching Australian reports of frost in their crop to see how that impacts the world wide supply. Remember, they are a couple of months from harvest.


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