Corn harvest a struggle for three U.S. states

Standing corn west of Giroux, Man. on Oct. 21, 2019. (Dave Bedard photo)

MarketsFarm — With a significant amount of corn still in the fields on the U.S. northern Plains, the harvest may be grinding to a halt, according to MarketsFarm analyst Bruce Burnett.

In particular, Burnett noted, the corn harvest has been further slowed by a propane shortage, which has caused issues for farmers trying to acquire propane for grain dryers. With high moisture levels, farmers want to dry their corn before putting it in the bin.

Due to problems transporting propane, shortages have arisen in some regions in the U.S. — one of them being the northern Plains, according to media reports. Farmers are contending with the demand for home heating, which has put tremendous pressure on suppliers to find enough propane to go around. Some states temporarily lifted transportation restrictions in hopes of speeding up shipments.

As well, snow and cold temperatures have added to the delays. North Dakota was furthest behind of the major corn-growing states. In the weekly crop progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), North Dakota farmers were only 15 per cent into their corn harvest as of Sunday. While that was a gain of five points from the previous week, it’s a quarter of the pace this time last year and a whopping 61 points behind the five-year average.

Going into November, USDA projected North Dakota farmers to harvest 3.31 million acres of corn and produce close to 12 million tonnes. That is likely to change with future supply and demand reports.

In other states, Wisconsin was 30 per cent through its corn harvest, while Michigan was at 33 and South Dakota at 39. The progress in those three states was at least half or further behind of their respective five-year averages.

The national pace was at 66 per cent complete, a gain of 14 points from last week. However, this time last year, the corn harvest stood at 83 per cent finished, only two behind the average.

Burnett noted U.S. farmers still had about 117 million tonnes to harvest.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.


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