The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported last night that the harvest of this year's U.S. corn crop is 79% complete and the soybean harvest is 71% complete. These numbers are significantly higher than the five-year averages of 38% for corn and 58% for soybeans.
The reason for the accelerated harvest is not better farming methods, but smaller crops due to the summer's drought and earlier planting due to warm spring weather. Last week the USDA forecast the total corn crop at 10.7 billion bushels, down 13% from a year ago and the lowest number since 2006. The soybean crop is now estimated at 2.86 billion bushels, down 8% from a year ago at the same time.
Yields are also down. Corn yields are estimated at 122 bushels per acre, down 25.2 bushels per acre from a year ago. Soybean yields are also lower, at 37.8 bushels per acre compared with 41.9 bushels per acre in 2011. The yield forecast is slightly higher than it was a month ago, but if the corn yield forecast is correct, that will be the lowest yield since 1995.
Planting has begun for the winter wheat crop, with 71% of the crop already in the ground, and 36% of the winter wheat has already emerged, which is 8% less than the average for this time of year.
Cotton is doing well, with 42% of the crop rated 'good' or 'excellent', up 12% from a year ago. Some 28% of the U.S. cotton crop has been harvested, slightly below the five-year average, but not cause for concern yet.