Summer-like heat ripens U.S. crops, eases fears of harvest delay
Unseasonably hot U.S. weather is accelerating corn and soy crop maturity after months of concerns that lagging development could drag down yields or put some late-planted acres at risk of damage from frost, agronomists and analysts said.
Farmers around the U.S. Midwest are racing to harvest crops under mostly clear skies and temperatures more indicative of mid-summer than early autumn, with highs ranging to 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (32-38 degrees Celsius) speeding up in-field grain drying.
Cash bids at several elevators and processors around the Midwest weakened in anticipation of an influx of grain in the coming days and weeks, while costs for shipping supplies by barge to Gulf Coast export terminals surged on Friday.
The unseasonable heat is almost certain to add bumper bushels to an already burdensome global grain supply that has weighed on crop prices and pressured farm incomes for four years. The strong finish to the U.S. growing season comes after a cool, wet spring stalled planting and mild summer weather slowed crop development.
“It’s been a really good harvest so far. Things definitely matured quicker with this heat,” said Kirk Liefer, a farmer in Red Bud, Illinois, who had the majority of his corn harvested and expects to begin gathering soybeans this week.
A key concern now for Liefer is getting soybeans that he grows for seed harvested quickly, before the crop’s moisture drops too much. Drier soybeans can be lost in the field during harvesting and are more prone to cracking, which lessens the value of the crop.
More than half of the U.S. corn crop was mature as of Sept. 24, up from just over a third a week earlier, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. The crop was 11 percent harvested as of Sunday, up from 7 percent a week earlier but 5 points behind the 10-year pace.
Soybeans were 10 percent harvested as of Sunday, up from 4 percent last week and slightly ahead of the 10-year average of 9 percent.