The 2012 corn harvest continues to set records as it maintains an impressive pace that will likely be one for the history books. The early start, combined with ideal weather conditions, have made it possible for producers to rush through harvest, which the USDA says is now 54 percent complete according to its weekly Crop Progress report.

The 2012 corn harvest advanced by 15 percentage points from last week, making it the third consecutive week during which producers have made double-digit progress.

 Further setting records, this week’s report was the highest percentage of corn harvest seen in the first week of October’s Crop Progress report. The closest pace was in 2000, when 37 percent of the nation’s corn had been harvested.

 If the weather window remains rain-free, this year’s crop could be completely harvested within the next 4 to 5 weeks.   While it wouldn’t be the shortest corn harvest reported by the Crop Progress, which took place over the course of nine weeks in 1995, it would be the fastest. Harvest has never wrapped up nationally by the first or second week of November.

Individually, Minnesota made the biggest improvement from last week’s report, jumping ahead by 23 percentage points to 53 percent. Iowa (56 percent) and South Dakota (55 percent) also made impressive progress, improving by 19 percentage points each. See how your state is doing here.

Corn conditions also improved slightly this week, with 50 percent of corn in poor to very poor condition, compared to 51 percent last week.  While the shift may be minor, it still offers a glimpse of hope for producers battling drought.

Soybeans: Harvest nears halfway mark
The report also showed that 41 percent of the nation’s soybeans have been harvested, compared to 22 percent last week.  The pace is still well above last year’s report of 15 percent and the five-year average of 19 percent.

Unlike corn production, which is down thanks to reduced yields associated with the summer’s extensive drought and heat, soybean yields are faring better.

"Soybean yields, from start to finish, have been better than expected," Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading in Fowler, Indiana, told Reuters “Any time you've got yields rising and you're in the middle of harvest and you've got the funds relatively long, it's very difficult to sustain a market. You have to feed a bull market every day and there's nothing to feed it right now," he said.