November 25, 2008
Producers made big strikes in the US corn harvest last week, although significant delays persist in some northern states, the US Department of Agriculture said Monday (November 24) in its weekly crop progress report.
The condition of the US winter wheat crop, meanwhile, declined slightly, according to the USDA. Emergence of the crop is a bit ahead of average.
The USDA said 89 percent of the corn crop was harvested as of Sunday, up from 78 percent last week but below the average of 97 percent. The progress exceeded estimates from traders, who predicted harvest would be 84 percent to 88 percent complete.
Iowa's crop was 86 percent harvested, up from 70 percent last week but below the average of 98 percent. In Illinois, harvest was 95 percent complete, up from 88% last week but below the average of 99 percent.
Weather was mostly favourable for harvesting in the Midwest last week, traders said. However, farmers in northern states, including the Dakotas, continue to struggle to bring their crops in.
North Dakota's harvest was 53 percent complete, up from 33 percent last week but below the average of 93 percent, according to the USDA. South Dakota's crop was 75 percent harvested, up from 59 percent last week but below the average of 97 percent.
Overall, harvest progress was better than expected, although industry members hope the Dakotas can catch a break with dry weather, said Joe Victor, vice president of marketing for Allendale.
"We did make good progress," Victor said. "It's nice to see that North Dakota did make a big stride [from last week], but 40 percent behind average is ridiculous. I'm looking at some of those northern tier states that are most vulnerable to prospects of heavy wet snow."
Chicago Board of Trade corn futures are more focused on activity in outside markets than on harvest progress at this point, traders said. Corn rallied Monday with stocks and crude oil.
The USDA said 65 percent of US winter wheat was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, down one percentage point from the previous week but up 21 percentage points from last year. Citigroup had predicted the rating would stay steady from last week or drop one percentage point.
In Kansas, the top hard red winter wheat growing state, 74 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent, up three percentage points from last week. HRW wheat is used to make bread.
In Ohio, which grows soft red winter wheat, 72 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent, down one percentage point from last week. Illinois, another SRW wheat state, had 78 percent of its crop rated good to excellent, down three percentage points from last week. SRW wheat is used to make pastries and snack foods.
The decline in condition ratings is not a big concern because wheat doesn't look as good as it prepares to go dormant for the winter, Victor said. Wheat goes dormant to protect itself from cold temperatures.
"It's that time of year where the wheat starts to go into dormancy, and it's just not as pretty," Victor said.
The crop was 92 percent emerged, up from 88 percent last week and from the average of 91 percent, the USDA said. Emergence was 95 percent in Kansas, on target with last year and down from the average of 96 percent.