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More harvest progress, but pace still lags

Substantial harvest progress in the week ending Nov. 3 brightens the overall outlook for Upper Midwest agricultural producers. Even so, large amounts of crops, particularly corn and soybeans, remain in fields at a time when many Upper Midwest far...

Substantial harvest progress in the week ending Nov. 3 brightens the overall outlook for Upper Midwest agricultural producers. Even so, large amounts of crops, particularly corn and soybeans, remain in fields at a time when many Upper Midwest farmers normally have wrapped up their harvest.

The weekly crop progress report, reflecting conditions Nov. 3 and released Nov. 4 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that farmers made gains in whittling down unharvested acres.

Two examples:

• North Dakota farmers had harvested 56% of their soybeans on Nov. 3, nearly double the 28% a week earlier. Still, the 56% was far less than the five-year average of 95% on Nov. 3. Put differently, North Dakota normally has wrapped up soybean harvest by Nov. 3; this year they've combined only a little more than half of their beans.

• Minnesota farmers had harvested 44% of their corn on Nov. 3, double the 22% a week earlier. Even so, 44% was much less than the five-year average of 75% on Nov. 3. In other words, Minnesota farmers had combined less than half of their corn acres on Nov. 3; normally, they've harvested three in four acres by then.

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Harvest progress has been slow across the Upper Midwest, reflecting a late planting start and exceptionally wet conditions in late August and September. But the harvest pace has been especially slow in North Dakota, which was hit hard by an early October blizzard. That's most obvious with corn: North Dakota farmers had harvested only 10% of their corn by Nov. 3; normally, they've combined 60%.

The area's sunflower and sugar beet harvests are delayed, too, though some progress was made in the week ending Nov. 3.

The sunflower harvest was 25% finished on Nov. 3 in North Dakota, up from 11% a week earllier but down from the five-year average of 65%. South Dakota farmers had harvested 28% of their sunflowers on Nov. 3, up from 12% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 62%. The two states dominate U.S. production of the crop.

The sugar beet harvest was 70% completed on Nov. 3 in Minnesota, up from 60% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 98%. In North Dakota, 67% of beets was harvested on Nov. 3, up from 53% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 99%.

Here's a closer look at corn and soybeans.

Corn

Minnesota: 44% of corn was combined by Nov. 3, up from 22% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 75%.

North Dakota: Just 10% of the crop was harvested by Nov. 3. That's up from 6% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 60%.

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South Dakota: 27% of corn was harvested by Nov. 3, nearly double the 14% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 66%.

Soybeans

North Dakota: 56% of soybeans was combined by Nov. 3, up from 29% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 95%.

South Dakota: 82% of soybeans was harvested by Nov. 3, up from 58% a week earlier but down from the five-year average of 96%.

Minnesota: 80% of beans was combined by Nov. 3, up from 62% a week ago but down from the five-year average of 97%.

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