The harvest of 2007 is finishing up in the northern half of Iowa, while farmers in the southern half are still getting their corn out. Farmers in the south central crop reporting district of Iowa harvested 25% of their corn crop this past week and 17% of their soybeans. That is, according to the weekly Iowa weather and crop survey released November 13 by the Iowa Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines.
The government survey notes that the weather this past week has been conducive for fieldwork, with fertilizer application, manure spreading, fall tillage and repair of grass waterways and field drainage tile continuing this week.
Over 93% of Iowa's corn is harvested
As of November 13 in Iowa, 93% of the state's 2007 corn crop has been harvested, 1% ahead of last year and 2% ahead of the 5-year average. Harvested field corn moisture is averaging 15%. Also, 99% of the state's soybeans have been harvested as of November 13. Soybean harvest has been completed by this time in years past. Fall fertilization has progressed to 40% as of Nov. 13 for the state.
Grain shipping or movement rates 10% heavy, 29% moderate, 35% light and 26% no movement. Availability of off-farm grain storage rates 24% short, 73% adequate and 3% surplus. On-farm storage availability rates 32% short, 66% adequate and 2% surplus. Storage availability is unchanged from last week.
Iowa's 2007 corn crop sets record
"Iowa's 2007 corn crop is still a record, but the fickle summer weather kept the harvest from being as large as we thought it was going to be," says Harry Hillaker, state climatologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
USDA's latest crop report, released November 9, estimates that the state produced 2.4 billion bushels of corn this year, nearly 70 million less that was forecast by USDA in October. The November estimate lowered Iowa's average yield from 180 bushels per acre down to 175 bushels per acre, although that is still better than the 166 bushels per acre farmers got in 2006.
Nationwide, this fall's corn harvest is estimated at a record 13.2 billion bushels, down 150 million bushels, or about 1%, from USDA's October forecast.
The U.S. corn harvest is 25% larger than last year's, reflecting the sharp increase in acreage planted this spring as farmers responded to the ethanol-driven increase in corn prices.
Yields down in other key states too
Yield estimates also were lowered for Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin by USDA in its November Crop Report.
Iowa, with 2.4 billion bushels in 2007, remains No. 1 in corn production, ahead of Illinois which harvested 2.3 billion bushels. Illinois has a better average yield, however, at 178 bushels per acre, which held steady from the October forecast.
Corn futures prices rose about 45 cents a bushel starting in late October as it became clear that yields weren't going to be as high as first thought. Corn for December delivery was around $3.87 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade at the end of last week. January soybeans were up nearly 15 cents to $10.56 a bushel. Because of the lowered corn production estimates in its November Crop Report, USDA increased its estimate of the season average farm-gate price for corn by 30 cents to a range of $3.20 to $3.80 per bushel. That's for the current 2007-2008 marketing year which will end next August 31.
Higher cost affects users of corn
The higher prices are good for corn growers but raise production costs for livestock farms, ethanol distilleries and food manufacturers, notes Bob Wisner, Iowa State University Extension economist. However, recent increases in ethanol prices have helped ethanol producers cover the rising cost of corn.
"We've come up about 30 cents a gallon on ethanol as well," says Rick Brehm, president of Lincolnway Energy LLC, an ethanol plant at Nevada in central Iowa.
What about soybean production this year? USDA's November estimate pegs Iowa's 2007 soybean harvest at 443 million bushels, which is unchanged from the October forecast. Iowa produced 510 million bushels of soybeans in 2006.