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A combine harvests a field of corn south of Salem, S.D., last week in McCook County. South Dakota is well behind schedule for harvesting corn and soybeans in the 2019 harvest. (Matt Gade / Forum News Service)

Finally, some harvest progress in the Upper Midwest

With November nearing, some Upper Midwest farmers finally began making much-needed harvest progress, especially in Minnesota and South Dakota. But the overall harvest pace remains far behind normal, particularly in North Dakota.

The latest crop progress report, reflecting conditions on Oct. 27 and released Oct. 28 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found some reason for optimism.

After many weeks of uncooperative weather, which included repeated heavy rains and an October blizzard, meaningful harvest progress finally was made in places, at least for some crops, according to statistics in the report.

Much of the progress came in soybeans. South Dakota farmers combined 25% of their beans in the week ending Oct. 27, with Minnesota ag producers harvesting 20% of their beans during the week. Even so, soybean harvest remains far behind schedule in both states.

North Dakota farmers harvested only 9% of their soybeans in the week ending Oct. 27. The state was hit especially hard by an October blizzard. Some unharvested soybeans were buried in snow, and moisture from the now-melted snow makes many fields too soggy to combine.

Excess moisture in fields also is hampering harvest of sugar beets, an important crop in western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.

In North Dakota, 53% of beets was harvested by Oct. 27, up from 41% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 97% for that date.

In Minnesota, 60% of beets was harvested by Oct. 27, up from 47% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 95%.

Sunflower harvest also was behind schedule in South Dakota and North Dakota, which dominate U.S. production of the crop.

In South Dakota, 12% of the crop was harvested by Oct. 27, up from 5% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 44%.

North Dakota farmers had harvested 11% of their sunflowers by Oct. 27, up from 6% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 47%.

The new report didn't include statistics on spring wheat, harvest of which normally is wrapped up in September. But previous crop progress reports found that some spring wheat hadn't been combined, especially in Montana and North Dakota, and anecdotal reports indicate that some wheat still in fields won't get harvested.

Here's a closer look at corn and soybeans:

Corn

Minnesota: 22% of the crop was combined by Oct. 27, up from 11% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 56%.

North Dakota: Just 6% of corn was harvested by Oct. 27, up marginally from 4% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 41%.

South Dakota: 14% of the crop was harvested by Oct. 27, up from 9% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 46%.

Soybeans

North Dakota: 29% of soybeans was harvested by Oct. 27, up from 20% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 91%.

South Dakota: 58% of the crop was harvested by Oct. 27, up from 33% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 90%.

Minnesota: 62% of beans was harvested by Oct. 27, up from 42% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 93%.