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

Steady as she goes

Crops are marching their way to the finish line with promise of a touchdown. As of September 2, status in the reporting states was:

Corn dough stage: 96 percent, average 91 percent

Corn dented: 75 percent, average 60 percent

Corn mature: 22 percent, average 11 percent

Soybeans dropping leaves: 16 percent, average 9 percent

Sorghum headed: 96 percent, average 95 percent

Sorghum coloring: 69 percent, average 62 percent

Sorghum mature: 30 percent, average 33 percent

Sorghum harvested: 22 percent, average 23 percent

Spring wheat harvested:  87 percent, average 75 percent


Condition is little changed from a week ago and overall continues better than last year.

Corn is rated 87 percent good/excellent and 12 percent poor/very poor, 1 point lower on the high end than a week ago and 6 points better than a year ago.

Soybeans are unchanged from last week, with 66 percent in the top categories and 11 percent in the bottom two. This compared with the same number in the bottom categories and 5 percent more in the top categories than last year.

Sorghum, at 52 percent good/excellent in the 11 states, is 1 point below last week, but 11 points behind last year. Its bottom two categories, at 17 percent, compares with just 8 percent last year. Texas and Missouri represent the highest numbers in the bottom categories.

The table includes a few surrounding states:

Corn Soybeans Sorghum


Poor/very poor


Poor/very poor


Poor/very poor






















South Dakota








Recent rains helped pasture condition improve a couple points at each end in the 48 states. Drought-stressed Kansas now has 27 percent in the bottom two categories and 38 percent in the top two. This compares with 25 percent in the bottom and 34 in the top two months ago (July 2). The first report in May showed 29 percent in the bottom categories and 25 in the top two.

pasture and crop condition for Kansas


Corn field and stormy sky

Condition Inches Downward; Reports Not All Rosy

At the start of the week of the annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour, USDA trimmed corn condition a few points. Sixty-eight percent of the crop is in good/excellent shape, down from 70 percent the prior week. The bottom end of the ratings crept up two points to 12 percent. Soybean condition also worsened slightly with the top end down one point to 65 percent and the bottom end at 11 percent.

Corn denting is well above its 26 percent average at 44 percent. In the states we serve, Iowa is at 42 percent (average 21); Kansas, 58 (36); Nebraska, 38 (25) and South Dakota, 38 (12).

Soybean pod setting also is ahead of average at 91 percent in the 18 states against an average of 83 percent. Iowa farmers reported 93 percent (85 percent average); Kansas, 82 (67); Nebraska, 92 (88) and South Dakota, 91 (85).

Crop Tour

Pro Farmer midwest crop tourThe annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour kicked off and the day one results were startling: A 100-bu./acre range of estimates. More than 100 scouts took to the roads in Nebraska, South Dakota and Ohio. The western group suffered downpours – rather unusual for the tour.

Jeff Wilson, leading the tour for the first time this year, was among those taking field measurements in southeastern South Dakota. Estimates ranged from 153 to 248 bu./acre, averaging 185 bu. – a little higher than the 170 bu. estimate from USDA last week.

Tour members traveling in northeast Nebraska reported 192 bu./acre dryland east of Norfolk, 196 bu./acre east of Columbus, and 200-plus in Antelope County. In other parts of Nebraska, there were reports of hail, flooding and delayed development, disease pressure and irregular fertilization and fill. Follow the tour on Twitter: #PFtour18.

Grain sorghum

Little change was reported in the sorghum crop, with one more percentage point falling from fair to poor, putting the poor/very poor score at 18 and good/excellent steady at 49 percent in the 11 states. Forty-six percent of the crop is coloring with 23 percent mature, compared with 43 percent and 27 percent respectively.


Harvest of winter wheat is 97 percent complete, one point behind average while 60 percent of spring wheat has been harvested, versus 44 percent on average.

Spring condition held steady at the lower end of the range but lost one point at the upper end.

Crops Are Rushing to Maturity – and USDA Sees Strong Yields

corn for grain yield chartThe Crop Progress report for August 12 supports the USDA supply/demand report’s record corn yield and second highest soybean yield.

With 73 percent of the corn in dough stage and 26 percent dented – well above average – USDA rated 70 percent of the crop good/excellent and 10 percent poor/very poor. Nebraska’s crop continues to shine, with 83 percent in the top categories, followed by Iowa at 75 percent and  South Dakota at 69 percent. The Kansas crop continues to suffer, with only 47 percent in the top categories and 22 percent in the bottom two. Producers in very dry, eastern Kansas are chopping corn rather than waiting to harvest for grain.

corn yield - August 1 2018As seen in the map, Nebraska is expected to harvest a record 196 bu./acre; South Dakota, a record 170 bu./acre and Iowa’s yield, unchanged from last year at 202 bu./acre. Kansas farmers may see a 129-bu. yield, down three bushels from last year.


Ninety-six percent of the soybeans are blooming and 84 percent are setting pods. All states in our region are ahead of average.

Much the same pattern is seen in condition ratings for soybeans. In the 18 reporting states, 66 percent are good/excellent and 10 percent are poor/very poor. Kansas has a worse than average rating, with 22 percent in the bottom categories and 40 percent in the top two. South Dakota has 9 percent in the bottom two and 66 percent in the top, followed by Iowa and Nebraska with 7 percent poor/very poor and 72 percent and 80 percent good/excellent, respectively.

soybean yield - August 1 2018Nebraska’s yield, estimated at 61 bu./acre, would be up 3.5 bushels from last year and a record (see map). Iowa’s yield is projected at 59 bu./acre up 2.5; and South Dakota, at 49 bu./acre, would be up 6 bushels. Kansas is expected to harvest 36 bu./acre, down one from last year. Kansas’ best yield in the past 10 years was 48 bu./acre in 2016 – 33 percent above this year’s estimate.

Grain Sorghum

Sorghum condition continues to run well below the prior four years, with good/excellent at under 50 percent. Seventy- eight of the crop is headed (average 73 percent), 37 percent is coloring (average 36 percent) and 21 percent is mature (behind the 24 percent average).


Winter wheat harvest is just six points from completion, with mainly Idaho, Montana and Washington still to go. USDA projects yield down 4.6 percent and production off 6.3 percent. Both Kansas and Nebraska yields are unchanged from last year at 38 bu./acre and 48 bu./acre respectively.

Spring wheat harvest is 35 percent complete (average 27 percent); South Dakota is far ahead of the six-state average and its 52 percent average. Condition for the six states is 75 percent good/excellent and 5 percent poor/very poor. However, South Dakota’s crop is 51 percent in the top categories and 13 percent in the bottom.

crop progress - KS pasture August 2018Pasture and Range

Pasture and range conditions are unchanged from last year. Kansas conditions are almost evenly divided, 31 percent in good/excellent, 34 percent fair and 35 percent poor/very poor. Hay simply is not available in parts of eastern Kansas and some cow/calf producers are selling herds.

Risk Management

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Early harvest in the crosshairs?


Corn continues to be ahead of schedule, with 91 percent silking and 38 percent in dough stage as of July 29, compared with 82 and 20 percent on average.

The condition is unchanged at 9 percent poor/very poor and 72 percent good/excellent, according to USDA. As the graph below shows, 2018 remains below 2014 and 2016 and if it follows their pattern, the top two categories could go either way from here. In 2014 and 2016, crop condition worsened a bit through August, while 2015 actually saw a modest improvement before sliding lower. In 2017, on the other hand, crop condition dropped and then recovered five points by harvesttime.


Beans in the 18 reporting states are still well ahead of normal in both blooming and setting pods, at 86 percent and 60 percent, respectively, compared with averages of 77 percent and 41 percent. All the states in our service area also are ahead of average.

Condition, right at 70 percent good/excellent in the 18 states, is a few points behind 2014 and 2016. But soybeans tend not to show large variations in condition from this point forward; based on the past four years, it is more likely to trend sideward. with small weekly adjustments, or even improve slightly.

Grain sorghum

Although the top categories of condition saw a three-point bump up this week to 52 percent, sorghum is faring poorly compared with other crops. Seventy-eight percent of Nebraska’s crop is rated good/excellent, with only 1 percent poor/very poor. South Dakota follows with 78 and 1 percent; and Kansas, 63 percent and 5 percent.

Sorghum is closer to average in progress: 4 percentage points more than  average are headed while coloring is one point behind average.




Winter wheat harvest is over in Kansas, 89 percent complete in Nebraska and 79 percent complete in South Dakota (where, on average, it is only 57 percent complete by this time). The average for the 18 reporting states is 85 percent, one point short of average.

Spring wheat harvest already is 35 percent finished in South Dakota, against an average of 21 percent. In the six reporting states, it has reached its average level of 4 percent. Condition is rated at 78 percent good/excellent, down one point from a week ago but still well above 2014 to 2016. South Dakota’s crop is the worst listed, at 52 percent good/excellent and 10 percent poor/very poor.



A look at USDA’s graph of grass condition shows continued long-term deterioration. Just 41 percent is measured as good/excellent while 29 percent falls into the bottom two categories. Kansas pasture/range is worse than the average for the 48 states, at 29 percent in the top categories and 35 in the bottom. South Dakota is rated 54 percent good/excellent and just 10 percent poor/very poor, while Nebraska continues to beat the averages by a wide margin, 71 percent good/excellent and just 8 percent poor/very poor.

Looking ahead

The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for the remainder of the growing season is for above average temperatures. Precipitation favors below normal from the Texas Gulf through eastern Kansas and Missouri, while the remainder of the Corn Belt has equal chances for above or below normal rainfall.