Harvest In Full Swing - Friday, 21 October 2016

The USDA continues to monitor harvest progress and crop conditions across the country each week.  At the start of this week the advancement of corn harvest rose by 11% from 1 week ago to 46% complete.  This still shows a lag from last year when the U.S. was 55% complete.  There are states that fall on both sides of the 5-year average for work completed at this time:

  • Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky are ahead of their normal pace by +11%
  • Indiana and Ohio +8%
  • Iowa and Minnesota are both -12% behind typical harvest pace
  • Nebraska is running behind average as well, harvest is -6% behind the 5 year average

The current condition of the corn crop condition was raised to 74% Good to Excellent and 97% of the crop is considered mature at this time.


USDA estimates that producers gained +18% this past week raising the current amount of soybean acres harvested to 62%.  This is still behind last year when 72% had been harvested and also behind the traditional 5 year average. Most notable states are Kentucky which is +27% ahead of normal and Kansas where soybean harvest is -18% behind their average.


Headlines out of China indicate that their government is considering reducing some of their corn acres and instead planting more soybean acres.  In addition they may offer incentives to corn processors to persuade the use of more bushels. 

Informa has estimated that U.S. corn acres are likely to decrease next year from 94.490 million acres this year to 90.971 million acres for 2017, this is a nearly -4 million acre decrease. The long range hope is that the decrease in U.S. corn acres and the ramped up usage of corn bushels by China may help equalize the global surplus.  All of these “possibilities” are a long way off at this time but it is information to consider as you make decisions for your 2017 growing season.

Soybean demand remains exceptionally strong. This week’s export sales report shows that U.S. soybean sales were the second highest of the marketing year. Unfortunately that is where the “good news” stops for soybeans.  Most sources believe soybean prices have these obstacles in front of them:

  • U.S. final yield is expected to increase slightly
  • Brazil is planting more soybean acres
  • U.S. is expected to plant more acres to soybeans in 2017
  • China may increase their soybean production acres

Once again all of this is important information to be aware of as you make plans for 2017 production.

With harvest in full swing across the country the upcoming forecasts are being watched closely.  The 6 to 10 day outlook that runs from October 25th-29th tells us to expect warmer than normal temps and above normal precipitation through the Midwest. Not great news for producers dealing with soggy field conditions already. 

For the last several months meteorologist around the world have been trying to determine when the exact end of El Niño would occur and what weather pattern, if any, would follow.  Early last spring and late winter we were told to expect a weak La Niña pattern to develop mid to late summer and last into the 2017 growing season.  By late spring that forecast had been updated and changed to the likelihood of a neutral pattern developing instead.  Long term forecasts for the winter months have shown us the entire spectrum of possible weather outlooks from brutal cold and heavy snow to mild with minimum precipitation across the Midwest.  So what will it be?

According to the NCEP CFS model we can expect warmer than normal temps for the next 6 weeks.  Don’t be looking for a heat-wave but they predict temps should remain 2 to 6 degrees warmer than average.  The map below shows the expected departure from average temps. 

A couple of weeks ago I told you that NOAA had all but dismissed the possibility of a La Niña weather pattern forming this fall while other respected meteorology agencies around the world had remained confident in its formation. Now NOAA has reversed its recent dismissal and has reissued the watch and gives La Niña a 70% chance of developing yet this fall in the northern Hemisphere and a 55% during the winter of 2016/17. This change from NOAA occurred due to the continued cooling of Pacific waters in all of the “Nino” regions during late September and early October.  Based on these readings along with the atmospheric conditions present, it is quite clear that conditions are progressing toward a La Niña pattern.


NOAA also has developed the U.S. Winter Outlook maps shown below.  If this forecast holds true northern California may receive some much needed drought relief this winter while the southern tier of states may see drier than normal conditions.  All of us in the upper Midwest and northern Plains may find a colder and snowier winter than normal compliments of an active northern jet stream.


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