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Corn Harvest Advances, Yields Edge Higher

The U.S. Crop Watch producers were busy over the last week as four more of the 22 fields were harvested and a fifth was started, and that bumped up overall yield expectations for corn.

Crop Watchers reported that harvest activity in their areas last week was quick and efficient, but many of them were sidelined by rain on Sunday, and that includes locations from Nebraska to Ohio.

The weekend rains plus additional showers forecast in the days ahead could keep some of the producers out of their fields for much of this week, meaning harvest is likely to slow down for a bit. Three Crop Watch fields await completion: the corn in Nebraska, western Iowa and Ohio.

The eastern Iowa corn was finished last Monday with a yield score of 4.75, above the 4.5 predicted just prior. The producer noted that despite the dry summer, one well-timed rainfall made a world of difference for this field. Excessive heat was also avoided.

That was similar to the feedback from South Dakota, where the Crop Watch corn was completed on Friday with the expected score of 2.75. Very little rain fell in the area this summer, but the fields that caught a lucky break stand out versus those that missed when it comes to harvest results.

The lighter yields in South Dakota also have the producer unsure if fungicide paid off for this year’s corn harvest. Cost and availability of inputs will be a leading discussion point nationally ahead of 2022.

The North Dakota corn was also harvested on Friday, and that score edged up to a 2 from 1.75. The field far out-yielded all the producer’s other corn fields, but it was still a relatively poor result for this ground.

The performance of the Crop Watch corn was somewhat of a surprise for the North Dakota producer throughout the season. The fact that the field sat unplanted last year greatly helped this year’s yields, but he did not originally expect it to help much at all.

Corn yield also climbed in Ohio to 5 from 4.75 as the producer started that field on Sunday with great early results, though he was rained out.

The final Crop Watch soybean field was finished on Tuesday in western Illinois, and it was one of only two Crop Watch soybean fields where final yield fell below the prior prediction (the other was Indiana). Final yield in western Illinois ended at 4 instead of 4.5.

The producer attributed that to a couple periods of excessive rainfall where water was standing in the field for too long. One of those instances was a near 7-inch (17.8 cm) accumulation back in mid-June.


The 11-field, unweighted average corn yield rose to 3.84 from 3.77 last week due to the harvest bumps in North Dakota, eastern Iowa and Ohio. The new yield score is the highest since early August.

Soybean yield slipped to 3.89 from 3.93 a week earlier based on the decline in western Illinois. The 3.89 is final with all 11 soybean fields complete, and that is higher than the 2019 or 2020 Crop Watch results.

Final Crop Watch soybean yield in 2018 averaged 4.06 with eight producers. This year’s average of the seven original producers is 3.96 versus 3.93 in 2018. That excludes Indiana since that location was moved this year, and it suggests this year’s crop could be as good as, if not a bit better than, in 2018.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has pegged 2021 U.S. soybean yield at 51.5 bushels per acre. Final 2018 yield ended at 50.6 bpa, though it was pegged at 53.1 in October and 51.6 in January.

The following are the states and counties of the 2021 Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Griggs, North Dakota; Kingsbury, South Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Audubon, Iowa; Cedar, Iowa; Warren, Illinois; Crawford, Illinois; Tippecanoe, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Karen Braun; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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