Slipping into harvest unprepared

New Holland corn combine
Harvesting corn.

I am unprepared mentally for harvest. Of course, I don’t have any crops to worry about myself, so I don’t have to prepare physically.

Still, it seems like the end of the growing season has crept up on me while I was looking in the other direction. It seems like just yesterday that I noticed some yellow in the soybeans.


Now I notice fields with just a few leaves left on them. The combines will roll soon, and I am mentally stuck in the pod-fill mode of August.

Corn ears are hanging down on the early fields, and the early harvest is a reality.

We can stop talking about crop progress reports and start talking about harvest progress.

As of Sunday night, the Ohio corn harvest is now officially started, at 2 percent complete. This is a token number, not necessarily all that accurate, in my view, but a start.

We showed a 1 percent start this time last year, and a 1 percent average over the last five years. The nation as a whole is at 9 percent, up 2 percent from last week, and up 2 percent from last year at this time.

The average for this time of year is 6 percent. I expect the harvest to pick up and get well ahead of average over the next few days if the weather remains dry.

Crop condition

Crop condition reports from USDA have shown our maturity to be well ahead of normal most of the year.

Similarly, the soybean harvest is barely begun in our state, and the nation is off to a good run. Ohio has 1 percent of the soybean crop off, and that is normal.

The U.S. is now at 6 percent, up 2 percent in the last week against a 6 percent average.

Big crop

According to the USDA’s Sept. 12 Supply and Demand Report, we can expect not only a huge harvest but a bigger one than expected. This is consistent with the history of big crop projections.

The saying is that big crops keep getting bigger, and that would be true once again. USDA now expects a soybean yield of 52.8 bpa.

Last month the report was for 51.8 bpa. The result would be a 4.693 billion-bushel crop, 50 million bushels above the average trade guess. It is also almost 400 million bushels ahead of the production of last year.

The result, if realized, is a carryout of 845 million bushels, well ahead of the 828 average guess.

Last year we had a carry estimate at this time of 302 million bushels. The comparison is crushing.

Similarly, the corn numbers from USDA all came in higher than expected. The yield is expected to be 181.3 bpa versus the trade guess average of 177.6. That would give us 14.827 billion bushels versus the trade average guess of 14.516 billion.

The ending stocks would now be expected to be 1.774 billion against the trade average guess of 1.614 billion bushels.

Remember, this would be a record yield, but not a record crop since our acres were down almost 5 million acres this year.

The result of the Supply and Demand Reports was easy to predict — new contract lows in corn and beans.

December corn futures hit a low of 3.473⁄4 Sept. 17.

This Tuesday morning we have declined farther, to 3.453⁄4. We are currently trading just 3.46, down 2 cents.

The November soybeans traded to a Monday new contract low of 8.211⁄2. This morning they made a new low of 8.17, and are currently just above that, at 8.171⁄2. That is down 6 cents for the day.

December wheat futures, meanwhile, made a new recent low at 4.951⁄4 Sept. 13.

The old contract low of 4.90 from July 11 was not penetrated. Currently, we are trading 5.101⁄2, up  4.25 cents.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.