U.S. corn harvest on record pace, soy lagging

Reuters / U.S. corn harvest was a record 87 per cent complete and farmers had finished 80 per cent of soybean harvest as of Sunday, Oct. 21 according to a U.S. Agriculture Department report issued on Monday, but the tail end of their combining efforts was expected to be slow due to rain.

Analysts had been expecting the corn harvest to be 89 per cent finished and soybean harvest 82 per cent complete, according to the average of estimates in a Reuters survey of 13 crop watchers.

Occasional showers over the next week to 10 days will cause minor delays in harvesting the remaining U.S. corn and soybean crops, said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Farmers were in no rush to finish up their harvest tasks as few faced pressure to deliver crops straight from the fields to elevators and processors. Most growers had already booked enough sales to satisfy their immediate cash needs.

Soybean harvest was lagging behind the record pace set in 2010. That year, farmers had harvested 91 per cent of their crop by the end of the third week in October.

A year ago at this time, soybean harvest was 77 per cent finished and corn harvest was 60 per cent complete. The five-year averages for late October are 69 per cent for soybeans and 49 per cent for corn.

Harvest of both commodities was virtually done in many areas west of the Mississippi River, analysts said.

“Eastern Corn Belt remains slower,” said Don Roose, analyst with U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa. “There was just too much rain this fall.”

In Ohio, just 50 per cent of the corn crop and 63 per cent of soybeans had been harvested, compared with 93 per cent of corn and 96 per cent of soybeans in Iowa, the top producer of both commodities.

“Even without a whole week to operate in fields, soybean harvest in northwest and north-central Iowa were virtually complete,” the Iowa field office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said in a report. “Producers who are done with harvest have been tilling fields and applying manure during the week.”

Analysts warned that harvest tends to slow down as growers near completion of their tasks. Many farmers who still had crops standing were waiting for them to dry out completely before cutting them down.

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