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Ripe corn with snow

Poor Weather Stalls Harvest

Even though crops are largely mature, harvest has fallen behind average due to farmers getting just what they didn’t need right now — moisture. In the week ended October 12, Iowa and South Dakota had less than a day of suitable fieldwork, Kansas had one full day and Nebraska 1.3 days.

In the 18 reporting states, 39 percent of corn has been harvested, ahead of the 35 percent average. Soybeans, however, are 15 points behind the usual 53 percent for this week. The states in our area are slightly behind on corn and significantly behind on soybeans:

CORN

SOYBEANS

Oct. 14, 2018

5-year average

Oct. 4, 2018

5-year average

Iowa

17

24

19

51

Kansas

63

64

16

33

Nebraska

25

25

39

54

South Dakota

17

21

29

65

18 States

39

35

38

53

 

USDA’s condition ratings are unchanged for corn, at 12 percent in the bottom two categories and 68 percent in the top two. Soybean ratings slipped one point on the top and gained one point on the bottom.

Sorghum is six points behind average, at 42 percent harvested. Nebraska stands at 32 percent, five ahead of average. But Kansas and South Dakota – at 19 and 21 percent respectively – are both behind nine points.

Winter wheat, at 65 percent complete in the 18 reporting states, also has slipped two points behind average. Kansas and Nebraska are each three points behind, at 62 percent and 89 percent respectively; South Dakota is eight points behind at 82 percent complete.

Better weather in the week ahead will help, at least on fields that aren’t too wet for machinery.

 

Ripe corn field with standing water

Season Ends Much as It Started: Wet

Soggy conditions have slowed field work and narrowed the gap between this year’s progress and the five-year average. Days suitable for field work in the week ended October 7 ranged from 1.6 in Iowa to 1.9 in South Dakota, 3.2 in Nebraska and 4.6 in Kansas.

Corn harvest progressed to 34 percent, compared with 26 percent on average in the 18 states and soybeans, at 32 percent, trailed the average by four points.

Oct. 7, 2018 CORN SOYBEANS
Percent harvested Points gained in week Average Percent harvested Points gained in week Average
Iowa 15 4 13 18 3 31
Kansas 59 12 52 14 7 19
Nebraska 23 6 6 36 9 33
South Dakota 16 5 5 28 7 41

Corn and soybean condition in the 18 states was unchanged other than a loss of one percentage point on the high end for corn. Corn was rated 12 percent poor/very poor and 68 percent good/excellent; soybeans, 10 percent and 68 percent.

Sorghum harvest is complete in Kansas (equal to average), 23 percent complete in Nebraska (16 percent average), and two points behind average in South Dakota at 16 percent.

Soggy soils

Just as farmers were frustrated by wet fields at the start of planting, they are experiencing similar difficulties at harvest. The map below shows soil moisture in large portions of the Corn Belt and our service area are 40 to 160 millimeters above normal.

calculated soil moisture anomoly graph

crop protection network imagePlant diseases related to moisture, including northern corn leaf blight, gray leaf spot and tar spot, as well as Fusarium and Gibberella ear rots, are a concern in high-moisture areas. Lodged corn is at particular risk for developing mycotoxins.

Producers are encouraged to inspect their fields before harvest for signs of mold or mycotoxins. It’s important to work with your crop insurance agent to arrange an inspection of the field.

For those cutting silage, concerns caused by early plant maturity combined with inability to get into soggy fields go beyond mold and mycotoxins, which can develop and grow in storage. These include:

  • Higher dry matter silage: If dry matter is more than 40 percent, the digestibility of fiber and starch are reduced;
  • Less dense packing and greater oxygen content

South Dakota State University Extension offers the tips to improve results.

Looking ahead, an El Nino is likely in the weeks and months ahead. That points to a warmer than average winter in our service area. The Southwest and Southern Plains could see above normal precipitation. So much so in fact that during a webinar for our customers, Mike Murphy of Cattlefax predicted soil moisture in Texas and Oklahoma “could be fine by next spring.”

Corn now a week ahead; soybeans slightly less advanced

Corn harvest jumped 10 points to 26 percent in the final week of September. This is well ahead of the 17 percent average for the 18 reporting states. Eighty six percent of the crop is mature, 15 points ahead of average, so combines will continue roll, weather permitting.

Harvest in our territory also continues to run ahead of average, despite a lack of suitable field days in many areas.

State Percent Harvested 9/23 9/30 Average
Iowa 5 11 6
Kansas 30 47 39
Nebraska 43 65 42
South Dakota 5 11 7

 

Soybean harvest also advanced, reaching 23 percent complete in the 18 states. That is up 9 percentage points from the prior week and three ahead of average.

With 83 percent of beans dropping leaves (average, 75 percent), condition is rated unchanged at 68 percent good/excellent and 10 percent poor/very poor. Kansas and South Dakota have 58 percent in the top categories, Iowa 74 percent and Nebraska 85 percent.

Grain sorghum is running slightly behind average, with 34 percent harvested in the 11 reporting states (average is 36 percent); 62 percent mature (63 percent average) and 97 percent (2 points ahead of the 95 percent average). Its condition worsened one point at each end, with 54 percent good/average and 17 percent poor/very poor.

Winter wheat planting also jumped in the past week, from 28 percent complete to 43 percent, which is three points ahead of average. Progress in our states varies somewhat, with Nebraska slightly behind average:

State 9/23 Average
Kansas 41 32
Nebraska 72 74
South Dakota 67 65

 

Pasture and range conditions continue to improve, with 42 percent now rated good/excellent and 23 percent poor/very poor. Kansas is rated 53 percent good/excellent and 19 percent in the bottom categories.

Soil moisture in South Dakota continues to be short in some parts of the state:

  Very short Short Adequate Surplus
Topsoil moisture 8 20 65 7
Subsoil moisture 14 29 53 4

 

These two maps tell the story.

palmer drought index - Sept 2018

 

drought map 9-25-2018

Ripening corn

Combines – and planters – rolling

A string of clear weather days jump-started harvest. In the 18 reporting states, 16 percent of corn and 14 percent of soybeans are combined, compared to 11 percent and 8 percent on average.

All of the states in our service area are ahead of average in development and harvest:

Corn dented Corn mature Corn harvested
Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average
Iowa 97 94 74 51 5 3
Kansas 98 96 80 69 30 27
Nebraska 98 96 69 53 9 6
South Dakota 98 92 67 43 5 3
18 States 97 93 72 53 16 11

 

Corn condition continues favorable, with the 18-state rating improving one point in the top categories to 69 percent and the bottom two unchanged at 12 percent. The rain was too late to boost the Kansas crop into better-than-half good/excellent; it stands are 47 percent, while 26 percent falls in the bottom categories. South Dakota is slightly below average, at 63 percent good/excellent and 18 percent poor/very poor. Both Iowa and Nebraska are above average.

Soybean progress and harvest also are ahead of average, by a wide margin in some states.

Dropping leaves Harvested Condition
Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average Good/excellent Poor/very poor
Iowa 72 49 8 3 22 7
Kansas 49 43 2 2 60 10
Nebraska 84 69 13 6 83 6
South Dakota 83 74 12 6 61 15
18 States 71 57 14 8 68 10

 

Grain sorghum’s progress is closer to average, and more of a mixed bag, with several measures behind average.

Coloring Mature Harvested
Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average Sept 24 Average
Kansas 93 90 32 33 6 6
Nebraska 95 97 48 41 6 4
South Dakota 85 90 24 35 1 4
18 States 94 90 50 53 30 32

 

Condition is better than average in our service area. Nebraska is rated 84 percent good/excellent and 2 percent poor/very poor compared to the 11-state average of 55 percent and 2 percent; Kansas is 71 percent and 7 percent; and South Dakota, 67 percent and 5 percent.

Winter wheat planting

Even as corn and soybeans are coming out of the field, 28 percent of the winter wheat crop is planted, two points ahead of average. Kansas farmers have 21 percent in, compared with 16 on average; Nebraska is three points behind average at 53 percent; and South Dakota is six points ahead of average at 53 percent.

Rains have helped Kansas pasture and range condition, which has reached 50 percent good/excellent. That compares with only 29 percent at the start of August. However, 17 percent remains in poor or very poor condition.

Green ripening soybean field, agricultural landscape

Whopping yields: Too good to be true?

It isn’t over until it’s over, but USDA data and projections point to record yields in many states.

National corn yields are projected to hit 181.3 bu/acre., up 2.9 bu. from the August estimate. The result is a projected 14.8 billion bushel crop for 2018, which is below 2016’s record but ahead of 2017 yield. Ten states (designated by the # sign on the map below and including Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota) are pegged to have record yields.

Rain has made grain: Both ears per acre and implied ear weight are exceptional. Production outstripped the highest industry expectation by 200 million bushels.

corn yield september 1 2018

Producers with reasonable costs whose yields are on or above the average should be able to “bushel through” this year’s tight margins, especially with the help of the Market Facilitation Program. Soybean yields also have been bumped higher to a record 52.8 bu./acre, 1.2 bu. above August and 3.7 bu. or 7.5 percent higher than last year. The result would be record soybean production of 4.69 billion bu., up from the August projection of 4.39 billion. Like corn, 10 states (including Iowa and Nebraska) will see record yields, USDA projects.

soybean yield September 1 2018

Progress and Condition

The yield estimates reflect crop condition at this point in the crop year. USDA rated the corn crop one point better in the good/excellent categories, at 68 percent, and stable in the bottom two. Nebraska is top in our service area at 82 percent in the top categories, followed by Iowa (73 percent), South Dakota (64 percent) and Kansas at just 46 percent.

In the 18 reporting states, corn is reported:

Dent: 86 percent Average 75 percent
Mature: 35 percent Average 21 percent
Harvested: 5 percent Average 3 percent

All but one of the states we serve is on or ahead of average for harvest. Nebraska, at 43 percent harvested, lags its average by six points

corn progress sept 12 2018

Soybeans remain ahead of average as well, with 31 percent dropping leaves compared with 19 percent average.

Condition improved two points from last week on the top end of the scale, to 68 percent, and one point on the bottom end, at 10 percent poor/very poor.

soybeans progress September 12 2018

Given the stage of the crop and its moisture requirements, most of Iowa and nearby states have excess moisture, though there is still time for things to dry down before harvest.

Corn moisture index September 8 2018

The Florence Factor

While North Carolina is not a corn or soybean powerhouse, it is a feed-deficit state, so any crop losses related to Hurricane Florence there can ripple back up the transport chain. Soybeans are planted in all 100 counties in the state, from the mountains to the sea – totaling 1.6 million acres in an average year. USDA forecasts 1.59 million to be harvested this year. However, most are grown in the eastern third of the state.

Hurricane Florence factor

Corn’s pattern is very similar, but accounts for about half as many acres, with 870,000 projected for harvest as grain this year. So far, 43 percent has been harvested.

As Hurricane Florence spins her way to landfall, it is expected to penetrate the state, with winds of 150 mph and deluges of 15-30 inches of rain. Crop damage is a given; even stored grain may in peril.

Last year, the state’s corn crop amounted to 119.3 million bushels and soybeans, 67.6 million – both less than 1 percent of national production, but potentially important to the protein producers in the state, assuming they don’t also experience extreme losses.

Hurricane Florence NOAA