Combines keep rolling across the countryside, as the latest weekly survey shows Iowa's 2012 soybean crop was 23% harvested as of September 23. That's a week ahead of the normal pace.
The USDA Crops & Weather survey rates 34% of Iowa's soybean crop "poor to very poor" which is consistent with ratings in recent weeks as the crop suffered from summer's widespread drought. But some farmers are reporting yields better than expected. Farming near Knoxville in south-central Iowa, Kyle Phillips says his bean yields are running 10% to 20% below normal but still better than he anticipated. In recent years he's harvested beans in the 50 to 60 bushel range. In northwest Iowa, Tom Reimers at Spirit Lake harvested a field averaging 53 bushels per acre on Sunday.
Iowa's soybean crop may turn out better than previously forecast
Iowa's statewide soybean average was 50.5 bushels per acre in 2011. This year's drought-stricken crop will average less, but perhaps it won't end up as low as some people have thought. USDA is currently projecting a 39-bushel-per-acre soybean average for Iowa in 2012. That September 12 estimate, based on conditions as of September 1, will be updated in the government's next monthly crop production report, scheduled to be issued on October 11, based on conditions as of October 1.
What about corn? Some farmers in parts of Iowa are reporting slightly better corn yields than expected. USDA's September 12 crop production report estimates Iowa's 2012 corn crop to average 140 bushels per acre. Iowa averaged 172 bushels per acre over the past three years.
Corn also advances as nearly 40% of Iowa crop already harvested
"Harvest continues to advance rapidly as farmers work to get corn and beans out before crop conditions deteriorate," notes Greg Thessen, head of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service office in Des Moines, the agency which conducts these surveys. "Weather has been ideal for harvest so far this fall and has allowed farmers to make significant progress."