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Corn, Soybean Harvests Accelerate on Dry U.S. Midwest Weather

Warm, dry Midwest weather last week helped U.S. farmers accelerate harvesting of corn and soybeans, the two biggest U.S. crops.

About 39 percent of the corn was gathered as of yesterday, up from 26 percent a week earlier and an average of 13 percent for the previous five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. About 22 percent of the soybeans were collected, up from 10 percent a week earlier and 8 percent, on average, from 2007 to 2011.

“The harvest is going very quickly with no major rain to slow down farmers,” Joseph Vaclavik, the president of Standard Grain Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview before the report. “The vast majority of farmers are looking to sell soybeans right out of the field to take advantage of record prices at harvest.”

Soybean futures for November delivery fell 0.7 percent to close at $16.10 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade after earlier touching $15.9025, the lowest since Aug. 14. December corn futures fell 0.5 percent to $7.4475 a bushel in Chicago.

About 88 percent of the corn crop was rated mature, up from 76 percent a week earlier and the prior five-year average of 57 percent. Approximately 51 percent of the corn was in poor or very poor condition, up from 50 percent a week earlier, the USDA said.

About 35 percent of the nation’s soybeans were rated good or excellent as of yesterday, up from 33 percent a week earlier, the USDA said. Approximately 73 percent of the crop was dropping leaves ahead of harvesting, up from 57 percent a week earlier.

Crop ratings are the worst for this time of year since 1988, when corn production plunged 31 percent from a year earlier and soybeans declined 20 percent. This year, output of the grain will fall 13 percent to 10.727 billion bushels, the smallest since 2006, the USDA said Sept. 12. The soybean harvest may be 14 percent smaller at 2.634 billion bushels. The government will update its forecasts on Oct. 11.

The winter-wheat crop, grown in the Midwest and Great Plains, was 25 percent planted as of yesterday, up from 11 percent a week earlier and 27 percent, on average, from 2007 to 2011. The crop goes dormant over the winter until about March, and is harvested starting in May.

“It’s just way too dry to plant wheat in parts of the Plains,” Vaclavik said. “Growers are waiting for rain the next two weeks before increasing wheat seeding.”

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