(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.)
By Karen Braun
FORT COLLINS, Colo., Sept 21 (Reuters) - The first two of 16 U.S. Crop Watch fields were harvested last week, though for the most part, the producers report that harvest activity has been on the lighter side and will likely ramp up in the coming days. Warm and dry weather across most of the Corn Belt this week will aid in the effort.
The Kansas corn was harvested last Monday and the results were as expected, but the Iowa soybeans, cut on Saturday, came in slightly worse than predicted.
The producers have been rating yield potential each week on a scale from 1 to 5. Scores of 1 or 5 represent yields close to or exceeding 15% below or above average, while 2 and 4 are assigned to yields around 5% to 10% from the recent field average.
The unweighted, eight-field average corn yield stays at 3.59 with no changes in any states. Soybean yield fell slightly to 3.53 from 3.56 after the final result in Iowa was slightly disappointing. See Crop Watch yield scores and results here.
Harvest is expected to pick up across most Corn Belt states this week and especially toward the weekend. The Illinois producer made an attempt on Crop Watch corn Monday, though moisture is too high and he may try again in several days. The Illinois soybeans could be collected this weekend.
There are not many anecdotal reports on results since it is early, but the Nebraska grower says that initial yields on dryland crops are a touch disappointing. The Indiana producer reports slow progress so far, but the corn has been very good.
The Ohio producer will start on soybeans later this week, and the North Dakota grower thinks there could be a lot of soybean progress in the area this week. Southern Minnesota should be starting up closer to the weekend.
Final yield for the Iowa soybeans came in at 3.75, a quarter-point below expectations. The producer believes that small bean size is likely to blame. He thought the soybeans would perform a little better due to the high quality of the ground, but the dry end to the growing season was more detrimental than expected.
That soybean yield is identical to the Crop Watch 2019 result, though in 2018, the yield was so good that the producer would have placed it at 6 if it were offered.
Iowa corn yield potential remains at 2.25, and that field could be ready this week. Some harvest has begun in the area, though it will ramp up more this week. Initial corn results have not been worse than expected following last month’s derecho and dry finish, though it is too early to judge.
The Kansas corn yield came in at 4 as expected, though barely, as the field might have undergone more stress during the growing season than the producer thought. That is the best result so far of the three Crop Watches.
In 2018, Kansas corn yield ended at 1 after suffering from drought, and last year the yield came in at 3, having been held back by the very wet start.
Crop Watch 2020 follows one corn and one soybean field in eight U.S. Corn Belt states, and weekly updates will continue through harvest. Photos of the 16 Crop Watch fields can be tracked on Twitter using the hashtag #CropWatch20.
The following are the states and counties of the Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Griggs, North Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Cedar, Iowa; Crawford, Illinois; Boone, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)