Northeast Crop Progress: Weather Extremes Dominate

Northeast crops may turn in a near-record year as corn harvest inched toward the halfway mark in the big acreage states.

Published on: Oct 24, 2013

Here's a peek at Northeast crop conditions based on National Agricultural Statistics Service's Oct. 21 reports.

Last week's 5 to 6 inches of rain swamped the harvest process. But crop reporters say grain corn harvest was 79% complete in Maryland and 90% done in Delaware.

Farmers are generally happy with full-season soybean yields. But dry early fall weather put a crimp on non-irrigated double-crop bean yields. No comments on corn.

Cover crop and winter grains are doing much better, especially with the recent rains. Pasture conditions were rated mostly fair to good in both states. And the fourth cuttings of alfalfa were 90% and 93% complete in Delaware and Maryland, respectively.

A BUMPER CROP? While a mid-summer drought took the top off many corn yields, 2013 may still turn out to be a banner year for Northeast corn – especially corn that was forward-priced.
A BUMPER CROP? While a mid-summer drought took the top off many corn yields, 2013 may still turn out to be a banner year for Northeast corn – especially corn that was forward-priced.

New England
Rainfall – lots of it – has dominated New England crop conditions all growing season. In some oareas of Vermont, for instance, the wet growing season caused estimated 15% to 30% corn yield losses and light test weights of harvested corn.

While a few farmers were still struggling to harvest their second hay cutting, most were completing their third cuttings. While top soil moisture was generally adequate, pasture growth was beginning to slow with the cooler temperatures.

The recent stretch of fair weather – and very little killing frost yet – has continued vegetable harvest and cover crop plantings. Apple crop expectations were high due to above average fruit set, size and quality. Cranberry harvest in Massachusetts was in full swing with a favorable production output.

Field corn harvest was 90% complete, right on the five-year average. Northern corn leaf blight was blamed for yield declines in many northern New England fields.

New Jersey
Just a few comments were reported. Warmer drier weather helped crop progress across the board. Topsoil moisture was 80% adequate to surplus, boosting pasture conditions to 77% good to excellent.

Field corn and soybean harvest were well underway, with reduced yield expectations in some counties due to the mid-summer drought. But the same conditions proved to be a blessing to boost sugar content in grapes.

New York
Upstate New York weathered through highly changeable weather with a mix of warm fronts plus cold fronts bringing rain showers. Some 75% of the corn crop was rated good to excellent, but harvest for silage and for grain were off the five-year average, with only 15% of corn for grain harvested.

Soybean crop conditions were rated 76% good to excellent with 44% of the crop harvested – well ahead of the five-year average. Here too, crops have yet to experience a killing frost. So, late-planted crops were still adding to yield and test weights.

Fruit harvest in the Empire State is generally behind the five-year average. But the apple crop is rated 95% good to excellent. Pears were rated 73% good to excellent. Grape quality has been boosted by recent sunny, dry weather, and 99% of the crop was rated good to excellent.

Excellent corn and soybean yields were being reported in some counties while average yields were being reported in others due to recent flooding. Barley and wheat plantings are almost complete. Fourth cutting of alfalfa and apple harvest are almost completed.

Corn crop condition was rated 88% good to excellent, and soybeans were close to that at 89% good to excellent. Some 44% of corn and 45% of soybeans had been harvested.

Wheat and barley emergence are well ahead of last year's and the five-year average. Pasture conditions were rated 59% good to excellent.

A number of counties reported excellent corn and soybean yields. Based on yield checks, Lancaster County expects to have its highest county-wide average corn yield. With the recent rains, several counties reported that soybean drying has slowed and prevented harvest.