Fair weather is speeding the US corn and soybean harvests,
of which more than 14m acres were harvested in a week, but has held farmers back
from planting winter wheat.
US growers had harvested 26% of their corn crop as of Sunday,
a record pace by this time of year, and above the 24% figure that investors had
expected, US Department of Agriculture showed.
It also represented an 11-point increase in a week –
equivalent to approaching 10m acres in area and nearly 1.2bn bushels (93m
tonnes) of crop by weight.
Besides dry weather, the early harvest of the world's
biggest corn crop beyond an average rate of 9% by now is also being speeded by
early plantings and – excessively - rapid development fostered in many areas by
'Earliest harvest I
The harvest is particularly advanced in Missouri, where
two-thirds of the crop has been harvested compared with less than one-quarter
typically by now.
Growers in Illinois, the top producing state, the harvest were
23 points ahead of their usual pace as of Sunday, as "mostly dry conditions
coupled with cooler temperatures during the week aided harvest", USDA officials
Selected US state corn harvesting rates and (change on average)
Missouri: 66% completed, (+42 points)
Kansas: 51% completed, (+29 points)
Illinois: 36% completed, (+23 points)
Iowa: 22% completed, (+20 points)
South Dakota: 19% completed, (+18 points)
National: 26% completed, (+17 points)
"There have been a few reports of [Iowa] farmers completing
corn harvest," the officials noted, adding that one of their scouts had reported
that "this is the earliest harvest I have observed in my career".
The condition of the US crop improved two points to 24%
rated good or excellent, although traders urged caution in reading too much
into this figure, as better crops were likely to be those harvested later,
needing a longer time to develop.
'Increased the pace'
For soybeans, the harvest also set a record pace, of 10%
complete, up six points on both the week and the average pace.
The figure, which narrowly beat market expectations, is
equivalent to some 4.5m acres harvested during the week, and 158m bushels (4.3m
tonnes) in weight.
Selected US state soybean harvesting rates and (change on average)
North Dakota: 28% completed, (+27 points)
Mississippi: 58% completed, (+23 points)
Minnesota: 16% completed, (+15 points)
South Dakota: 15% completed, (+15 points)
Iowa: 6% completed, (+5 points)
National: 10% completed, (+6 points)
Growers in North Dakota, where "dry conditions last week
pushed maturity of standing crops and increased the pace of harvest", were
particularly ahead of their typical harvest pace.
And this week is expected to see more rapid progress in row crop harvests.
"The weather outlook features minimal rain this week so it's
expected that harvest should continue at a good rate," Brian Henry at broker Benson Quinn Commodities said.
The speed of the harvests, coupled with some recent reports
of better-than-expected yields, has been seen by investors as a major factor in
Monday's tumble in crop prices, bringing a spike in supplies and therefore more
options for buyers, for now.
"Fundamentals are strong, but seasonals are lower," Mike
Mawdsley at broker Market 1 said.
"This is the time of year that pressure is normally seen
until harvest is more advance."
The rapid development of the crops is also seen as
protecting them from early frosts.
"The only state threatened by frost the next two mornings is
Wisconsin, where only 40% corn is mature
versus 80% and 93% in North Dakota and Minnesota respectively," Richard Feltes
at RJ O'Brien said.
'Wheat seeding was
However, the dry weather was also reflected in a pace of
winter wheat sowings which, at 11% complete, lagged the typical figure of 14%
In Nebraska, where farmers have 21% of winter wheat planted,
compared with more than one-third typically by now, rains of less than half an
inch last week "did little" to revive soil moisture levels.
|Selected US state wheat planting rates and (change on average)|
Wasington: 60% completed, (+16 points)
Kansas: 5% completed, (-2 points)
Nebraska: 21% completed, (-14 points)
Colorado: 15% completed, (-16 points)
South Dakota: 14% completed, (-16 points)
National: 14% completed, (-3 points)
"Winter wheat seeding was slow with emergence limited due to
dry topsoils," USDA staff said.
In Colorado, a hard red winter wheat state, where "conditions
are still very dry", the pace of sowings also lagged significantly behind the average.
In Texas, some farmers were "aided by cooler temperatures
and timely rains".
But "in places that missed last week's rains, dry planting
was underway, with growers sowing into dry soils, in hope of rains, and with
insurance programmes promising decent payouts for failed crops.
"The insurance for hard red winter wheat came in at $8.78 a
bushel, which will get winter wheat planted," Mr Henry said.