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Rosco Becker, left, and Amos Coetzee, custom harvesters with Olson Custom Farms of Hendricks, Minn., wait for word on a moisture test to resume harvest on a field of canola east of Langdon, N.D., on Monday, Oct. 7. The crew had been idled for two weeks due to the wet weather. Photo by Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

It's the waiting season: Awful weather hampers harvest

At the beginning of the classic movie "Casablanca," we learn that refugees in the city, who want desperately to move on, are forced "to wait, and wait, and wait."

Upper Midwest farmers understand that all too well this fall. Repeated rains, as well as early snows, have slowed an already late harvest and forced it to a standstill in many areas.

The weekly crop progress report, reflecting conditions Oct.6 and released Oct. 7 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, confirmed that harvest has virtually stopped because of the bad weather. That's especially concerning because harvest of corn and soybeans, which along with wheat are the region's major crops, usually is going full bore in early and mid-October.

Not this year. Two examples of many: Just 1% of Minnesota corn and 1% of North Dakota soybeans were harvested in the week ending Oct. 6.

And the sugar beet harvest in western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, which also should be in full swing and which had been proceeding at close to a normal pace, now is far behind, too.

Only 19% of North Dakota sugar beets were harvested as of Oct. 6, compared with the five-year average for that date of 51%. And 17% of Minnesota beets were harvested by Oct. 6, compared with the five-year average for that date of 44%.

The region's spring wheat harvest, which should have been wrapped up weeks ago, continues to lag. Though the harvest is finished in South Dakota, 2% of Minnesota's crop, 10% of North Dakota's spring wheat and 14% of Montana's crop wasn't combined as of Oct. 6, according to NASS.

Here's a closer look at corn and soybeans:

Corn

Minnesota: 39% of the crop was mature on Oct. 6, compared with the five-year average for that date of 83%; 1% of the corn was harvested, compared with the five-year average of 10%.

North Dakota: 22% of the crop was mature on Oct. 6., compared with the five-year average of 75%. None of the state's corn was harvested, compared with the five-year average of 6%.

South Dakota: 36% of the crop was mature on Oct. 6, compared with the five-year average of 80%; 2% of the corn was harvested; the five-year average is 12%.

Soybeans

North Dakota: 92% of the crop had dropped leaves by Oct. 6, down from the five-year average of 97%. Just 8% was harvested, down from the five-year average of 48%.

South Dakota: 78% had dropped leaves by Oct. 6, down from the five-year average of 96%; 8% was combined, compared with the five-year average of 43%.

Minnesota: 80% had dropped leaves by Oct. 6 compared with the five-year average of 95%; 8% was combined; the five-year average was 43%.