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Crops looking good, harvest conditions fair for 2018

By Matt Reese

Wow! August proved to be a strong month for finishing out what looks to be a very large corn and soybean crop for many parts of Ohio.

With just a few exceptions, nearly all of Ohio had surplus moisture by the release of the Sept. 2 USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weather summary for Ohio. A few notable exceptions were Pandora that was 2 inches below normal, Cambridge that was 4.59 inches below normal, Bucyrus that was 4.53 inches behind, and Stow that was almost 6 inches below normal precipitation since April 1. On the flip side, Washington Courthouse has seen 6.52 inches above normal, Newark had more than 8 inches over normal, Circleville is 9 inches above average, and a Cleveland location is a whopping over 10 inches above normal precipitation for this time of year.

August had no shortage of Growing Degree Days either. Again, the vast majority of Ohio locations were well above average for GDD accumulation. Gallipolis, though, was 140 GDDs behind, South Point was 296 behind and Marysville was 332 GDDs behind as of Sept. 2. Findlay was 456 GDDs above normal, Akron Canton was 618 above normal, and Fredericktown was 655 GDDs above normal.

The heat really pushed the crops, especially the corn, quickly toward harvest conditions.

Even by late August, a few farmers around Ohio were already harvesting corn for an early new crop pricing advantage. Anderson Ethanol received the first load of new crop corn on Aug. 29 from southern Darke County. It was 107-day maturity, planted in mid-April and at 18.3% moisture. Similarly, late August and early September saw early harvest efforts get started in scattered pockets around the state.

Ohio’s corn was ahead of schedule in every category for the 2018 crop compared to last year and the five-year average in the Sept. 2 NASS report. This year, 13% of the corn crop was mature compared to the 5% five-year average and 6% in 2017. Silage harvest, at 32% completed, was well ahead of last year.

In soybeans, 15% of the 2018 crop was dropping leaves by Sept. 2 compared to the 7% five-year average. Both crops were looking good with 79% of Ohio’s corn and 80% of Ohio’s soybeans in the “good” or “excellent” categories.

Looking forward, Ohio’s very hot weather of early September fueled in part by tropical activity in the Pacific Ocean and a big high pressure system over the eastern U.S. will maintain the shift to at or above normal for the remainder of the month.

“We do not see any early freeze conditions this year,” said Jim Noel, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce, in a recent CORN Newsletter.

Noel predicted September rainfall to end up near normal with above normal humidity for the month and, as a result, slower soil drying conditions than would be expected with the higher temperatures. Noel said the October harvest outlook for the weather is temperatures still 1 to 3 degrees F above normal and rainfall levels 0.5 to 1 inch above normal with continued above-normal humidity levels, which could make for challenging harvest conditions, with the wettest conditions in the western half of Ohio and northern areas and the driest areas east and southeast, Noel said. The freeze outlook should be near normal timing in the Oct. 10- to Oct. 20-range.

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