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Weather extremes continue into harvest season

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

Ohio can certainly lay claim to wide extremes of weather for 2019. The wettest spring in 125 years unfortunately provided for great extremes in planting corn and soybeans this spring. While northwest Ohio had a huge amount of prevented planted acres, the rest of the state struggled to complete the planting process. Many acres were not planted until late May and into the first two weeks of June. The dilemma became the need for a long growing season without an early frost or freeze taking place. Fast forward to the end of September. To date, early frosts and freezes have not yet taken place across the Midwest. Weather forecasts into October 15 indicate zero cold weather concerns. The northern Plains will be seeing cooling temperatures but no freezes. In addition, late September rains of 1 to 4 inches moved through Missouri and Wisconsin, along with parts of Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. While some rains made it to Ohio, those totals were much less impressive. Still other parts of Ohio followed the pattern seen in August and September as they received little or no rainfall.

Much of Ohio and the Midwest was in harvest mode the last 10 days of September. Yields were all over the spectrum. While some soybean yields reached 65 to 70 bushels per acre, still other areas were severely disappointed when the tally only indicated 10 to 15 bushels per acre. As I talked with producers at the Farm Science Review last month, it became apparent those soybean yields were often nearly 20 bushels below those of last year. Other producer conversations indicated both corn and soybean yields would not match those seen last year.

One common thread last fall and into the new year was one of being most anxious to wrap up 2018 as a terrible year for harvest and crop production in general, not to be replayed for years to come. Unfortunately, for way too many of Ohio’s producers, 2019 will go down as another challenged by uncooperative weather.

Reports in September indicated harvest would need to be 60% completed or more to get a much better indication of U.S. corn and soybean yields. In addition, much of this growing season it has been assumed corn and soybean development was at least two weeks behind normal.  Using the above assumptions puts the 60% harvested time frame as the third week of October at the earliest.

While the market is receiving more yield data, it provides another harsh reality. As NASS and USDA compile actual field reports for corn and soybean yields, the Oct. 10 WASDE (Supply and Demand Report) will drastically lack anything close to 60% harvest completed for corn and soybeans. Not until the Nov. 8 report day, will we  finally get a much bigger sample of harvest data for the U.S. corn and soybean yield projections.

Corn prices especially have been on the defensive since late June when corn acres were higher than traders had expected. The prevented planted acres of corn continues to be most confusing.

U.S. corn demand continues to be on the defensive with near record production from South America capturing demand at an alarming rate. It will most likely take a weather event along with unexpected demand to break corn out of its current funk and sideways price action. China is a wild card with the final hand for each of the U.S. and China not yet dealt in the trade talks.

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