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Harvesting corn in glow of evening sun. Cristian-Gabrie-Kerekes/Thinkstock

USDA crop progress: Corn harvest finally clears the halfway point

Soybean harvest now three-fourths complete

The embattled 2019 season draws another step closer to the finish line, as corn and soybean harvest progress each crossed notable milestones this past week, per the latest data from USDA’s weekly crop progress report, out Monday afternoon.

Corn harvest finally crossed the halfway point, with 52% complete as of November 3. That’s up from the prior week’s tally of 41% but still significantly behind 2018’s pace of 74% and the five-year average of 75%. And four of the top 18 production states – North Dakota (10%), Wisconsin (21%), Michigan (25%) and South Dakota (27%) – have yet to harvest even a third of their crops.

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And 96% of the crop is now mature, up from 93% a week ago. The entire crop is typically mature by early November.

Corn quality held mostly steady this past week as analysts anticipated, meantime, with 58% in good-to-excellent condition. Another 29% was rated fair (down a point from last week), with the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor (up a point from last week). North Carolina has the largest percentage rated poor or very poor, at 30%.

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“USDA last condition assessment for corn was a mixed bag ahead of the agency’s updated production forecast on Friday,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “While nationwide ratings eased the equivalent of a half bushel per acre, state-by-state analysis showed a slight gain. Steady to better conditions in all but three states made the difference, with Iowa potential up another half bushel per acre. Both models based on the ratings are above USDA’s last estimate, with the lower state method still two bushels per acre above USDA.”

But while yields may edge higher in Friday’s report, the rest of the crop progress data suggests harvested acreage could be lower, resulting in a drop in production, Knorr adds.

“The percentage of immature corn in the eastern Corn Belt could result in more damage after Sunday’s cold snap, while harvested acreage is also low,” he says.

Soybean harvest is now three-quarters of the way finished, according to USDA – up from 62% last week but still moderately behind 2018’s pace of 81% and the five-year average of 87%. Northern states tend to be a bit further behind the national average, but North Carolina (45%) has the most progress yet to make so far.

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Winter wheat plantings crept forward to 89% last week, up just four points from the prior week’s total of 85%. This year’s pace is slightly ahead of 2018’s 83% and the five-year average of 88%. Another 71% of the crop is emerged, up from 63% a week ago.

Winter wheat crop condition ticked a point higher, to 57% rated good-to-excellent. Another 30% is rated fair (down a point from last week), with the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from last week).

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“Winter wheat conditions were mixed,” Knorr says. “Soft red winter wheat states were steady higher except Michigan, while HRW was mixed. Average yield potential was little changed, with our models nationwide ranging from 48.6 bushels per acre to 50.5.”

Click here to access the latest crop progress report from USDA, which has additional updates for sorghum and southern row crops.

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