November 12, 2008

US crop progress wrap: Much corn, soy still in field


More than a quarter of the US corn crop and about 10 percent of the nation's soy remain in the field, the US Department of Agriculture said Monday in its weekly crop progress report.


Wet, cold weather is likely to pressure overall yields and production capacity of the crops left in the field, said Jason Ward, a market analyst at Northstar Commodities.


Winter wheat planting, meanwhile, is off to a stellar start with quality and emergence ratings up year over year, according to the USDA.


The US corn harvest was 71 percent complete as of Sunday, up from 55 percent last week but down from the five-year average of 88 percent, the USDA said.


A lot of the crop left out to dry in the Dakotas was hit by heavy snow last week, Ward said.


North Dakota had only harvested 23 percent of its corn crop and South Dakota had 53 percent, lagging their five-year averages by 65 percent and 30 percent, respectively.


"The Minnesota guys are finishing up; the only guys that aren't done were drying [the crop in the field] to wait out the drying costs," Ward said. "They'll either pay it in drying costs or pay in field loss."


In Iowa, the country's top corn-growing state, farmers cut about 62 percent of their corn, a 19 percentage-point increase since a week earlier. Iowa's progress lags the 90 percent harvested at this time last year, which is also the state's average progress, according to the USDA.


Harvest was 80 percent complete in Illinois, down from 99 percent in 2007 and the average of 95 percent. Indiana's harvest was 89 percent complete, down from 95 percent last year, but ahead of the state's 86 percent five-year average.


With 29 percent of the nation's crop yet to be harvested, Ward said he expects the USDA to step yield estimates down in the December and January crop reports to 153.5 bushels an acre, as farmers struggle with lodged stalks weighted down by snow.


The USDA on Monday estimated corn yield at 153.8 bushels per acre.


The US soy harvest is 93 percent complete, even with the average of 93 percent and 2 percentage points behind the year-earlier period, the USDA said.


Analysts had expected harvest to be 93 percent to 95 percent complete.


What's left in the fields, if it yields what the USDA currently forecasts as the 39.3 percent national average, is almost the exact the equivalent of the current 205 million-bushel carryout forecast, Ward said.


On the surface, it looks like only farms of more than 10,000 acres have much left to harvest in the Midwest, he said, but Missouri still has a quarter of its soy in the field.


"It's likely that Missouri doesn't get a lot done this week because of wet forecast," Ward said. "It's safe to say - better than 50-50 - you'll see some stock decline."


In Iowa, 97 percent of the soy crop was harvested, down from 98 percent last year and the average of 99 percent.


In Illinois, harvest was 95 percent complete, down from 99 percent last year and the average of 97 percent. Harvest was 97 percent complete in Indiana, behind the 98 percent in 2007 but ahead of the 95 percent average.


The USDA said 68 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent, up one percentage point from this time last week. The highest quality ratings were ahead of the 49 percent achieved at this time last year.


In Kansas, the top hard red winter wheat-producing state, 78 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent, ahead of the 73 percent that qualified for the highest ratings last year.


The USDA said 83 percent of the US winter wheat crop had emerged, up from 76 percent last week and down from the 84 percent average. Winter wheat plantings were 94 percent complete, up from 90 percent last week and even with the average and 2007.


Hard red winter wheat is used to make bread.


In Kansas, 87 percent of the crop was emerged, up from 84 percent last year, but down one percentage point from the five-year average.


Kansas' crop was 95 percent planted, compared to 99 percent in 2007, and below the average of 98 percent.


"Wheat looks right on track," Ward said.


If wheat's in jeopardy anywhere, he pointed to Argentina, where dryness has been a concern.


In Ohio, 100 percent of the crop was emerged, up from 99 percent last year and the average of 87 percent. Ohio grows soft red winter wheat, used to make pastries and snack foods.

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