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Harvest Outpacing Expectations

Market Intel / September 26, 2018

According to USDA’s September 24 Crop Progress report, the U.S. corn harvest, at 16 percent complete, is speeding along. Up  6 percentage points from the previous year and 5 percentage points from the five-year average, this  represents a total of 2.4 billion bushels harvested, Figure 1. Harvest progress for U.S. soybeans is also picking up steam, with 14 percent of the soybean crop harvested. Like corn, the soybean harvest is up from last year’s 9 percent and up 6 percentage points from the five-year average, representing 657 million bushels harvested, Figure 2.

The rapid harvest pace should continue as conditions remain favorable throughout the Corn Belt. This year’s crop conditions have also led to predictions of record-setting yields for both corn and soybeans. Though farmers in the Corn Belt have only just begun harvest, Illinois growers have already harvested 650 million bushels of corn, representing 28 percent of the harvest. Illinois corn producers’ harvest rate is up 18 percentage points from the five-year average and 15 percentage points from last year. Also in Illinois, 122 million bushels of soybeans have been harvested, representing 17 percent of the harvest. Not too far behind the corn farmers in the state, Illinois soybean producers’ harvest rate is up 11 percentage points from the five-year avearge and 9 percentage points from last year. 

For the week ending Sept. 24, USDA has revealed 69 percent of the U.S corn crop is in good-to-excellent condition, up 1 percentage point from last week. Current conditions remain improved over the five-year average of 67 percent good-to-excellent. Corn crops in poor-to-very-poor condition continue their five-week stretch at 12 percent. USDA’s estimates are slightly improved over analysts’ predictions of no change in corn or soybean crop conditions over the last week.

Like the U.S. corn crop, 68 percent of soybean crops are in good-to-excellent condition, up 1 percentage point from last week. Current conditions are up 8 percentage points from last year and 5 percentage points from the five-year average of 63 percent in good-to-excellent condition. Soybean crops in poor-to-very-poor condition have also remained steady at 10 percent. 

Megan Nelson
Economic Analyst
(202) 406-3629

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On July 26, the Department of Labor published a proposed rule that would amend its regulations regarding certain provisions of the H-2A program. Among the many changes in the proposed rule are revisions to the methodologies used to determine the Adverse Effect Wage Rate. Rather than a single AEWR for all H-2A workers within a region, DOL has proposed AEWRs by agricultural occupation. The proposal reflects the department's concern that the current AEWR methodology for field and livestock workers (combined) may have an adverse effect on the wages of workers in higher-paid agricultural occupations, such as farmworker supervisors and construction laborers on farms. Following the data supplied by DOL in the proposed rule, this Market Intel will look at what the proposal means for farms utilizing the H-2A program.

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While on the higher side of pre-report estimates, the USDA September Crop Production report shows corn and soybeans yields are down from 2018 and lower than the projections posted in the USDA August Crop Production report.

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