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  • With the exception of a few showers in parts of the region -- some of which added up to an inch of rain -- the harvest weather window in the central third of the U.S. remains open, keeping corn and soybean harvest progress running along well, while the end of winter wheat planting edges closer in the Plains.Rain has fallen in the first half of the week, with most of it isolated to the southeastern portion of the Corn Belt, namely southern Indiana where up to 1 inch of rain fell Tuesday, according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., meteorologist Wayne Ellis. However, a combination of warm temperatures in that same region and an outlook favoring drier conditions will likely keep any weather delays minimal. Beyond the weekend, most of the Midwest will see average or below-average rain -- or snowfall -- totals."Some rain totals were in the .50- to 1.00-inch range and anywhere from a few hundredths of an inch to .5 inch elsewhere in the rain band," Ellis says. "A few light showers will fall on Thursday, mostly north and east with a light mix of rain and snow on Friday in the Southern Great Lakes and far eastern areas. The weekend looks dry across the region. The six- to 10-day outlook features above-normal temperatures for the west and near-normal east. Rainfall will be above-normal for roughly the southwest quarter of the region, below normal far northwest, and near normal rain elsewhere."The Plains, where farmers are inching closer to the end of wheat planting, will see some showers by midweek next week, but a window of mostly dry weather should get wheat farmers at or near the end of planting."The drier pattern in central and western areas will allow fieldwork there to progress well. The drier pattern across the Plains through the weekend will allow winter wheat planting to finish up," says MDA Weather Services senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney. "However, dryness is building again in western and southern areas, which is stressing wheat growth. A notable upturn in showers is expected in the central and southern Plains next week, though, which would improve moisture and wheat conditions. Continued mild temperatures across the Plains will favor wheat establishment."Looking beyond the normal fall harvest window for the Corn Belt, there's been a noticeable shift in predictions, especially for temperature. A weak El Niño system continues to dominate the southern oscillation index, giving little or no guidance to temperature projections heading into winter. And now, an outlook that a couple of weeks ago featured warmer-than-normal temperatures has that outlook trending the other direction."The latest 31- to 60-day temperature outlook has trended cooler across the Midwest, central and northern Plains, and Delta," Keeney says. "The cooler conditions across the Plains would slow wheat growth and begin to push the crop into dormancy in northern areas."See more of the latest weather data

  • Recent projections have already foreshadowed the likelihood of higher returns for soybeans than corn next year. Now, the numbers are pointing to that same scenario much quicker than the 2015 crop.Based on projected costs and the median prices projected in USDA's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report earlier this month, soybeans will net more per-acre revenue than corn this fall, says University of Illinois Extension ag economist Gary Schnitkey. Neither crop will light the world on fire this fall, returns-wise, but the cost side of the equation will likely make soybeans the winner, provided yields wind up where the latest estimates have them."Unlike most years, soybeans are projected to be more profitable than corn in 2014. Those farms raising more soybeans this year will tend to be more profitable than those raising more corn," Schnitkey says in a university report. "Total costs equal $588 per acre for corn and $372 per acre for soybeans. Operator and land return equals gross revenue minus total costs and represents a return to both the farmer and landowner. Operator and land return equals $210 per acre for corn and $328 per acre for soybeans. Soybeans are projected to have a $118 per acre higher return than corn."The economist projects, for the highest productivity land in his home state, gross revenue will be about $100 higher per acre for corn, but costs for that crop will exceed those for soybeans by more than $200 based on 2014 crop budgets and a 50-50 rotation between the two crops. "Operator and land return equals gross revenue minus total costs and represents a return to both the farmer and landowner. Operator and land return equals $210 per acre for corn and $328 per acre for soybeans," Schnitkey says. "Given projections, soybeans are projected to have a $118-per-acre higher return than corn."Join the Chat: What will net you more revenue this fall? There's wiggle room in the numbers that make these projections less than a sure thing, though: If corn yields exceed 250 bushels per acre or prices range closer to $4.00 a bushel, for example, corn will end up the winner. The same goes for soybean prices and yields. Schnitkey's projections use an average soybean yield of 65 bushels per acre, but if those yields are closer to 50 bushels an acre -- or prices slide south of $10 a bushel -- corn will be the revenue leader this fall. But as the economist points out, these swings are fairly wide and will make it tough for corn to come out on top this fall."Differences in prices, yields, and costs impact relative returns between corn and soybeans. The sizes of [these] changes illustrate that soybeans will be more profitable than corn in most situations," he says, adding cash rents will also have a profound effect on the revenue balance. "At a $300 cash rent, farmers receive a return for corn equal to $90 per acre. The farmer return for soybeans equal $28 per acre. At a 50% corn and 50% soybeans, operator and land return equals $269 per acre. Overall, a $31 loss occurs for a farmer given a $300 cash rent. Without soybeans, the return would have been much larger."These numbers could have implications well beyond when this year's crop is in the bin and marketed. There's already been a lot of talk among ag economists and market analysts that soybean acres could see a boost in 2015 from an increasingly imbalanced revenue picture for that crop vs. corn. Now, the numbers for this fall further affirm the assertion that farmers will plant more soybeans next fall. "Unlike most years, soybeans are projected to be more profitable than corn in 2014. Those farms raising more soybeans this year will tend to be more profitable than those raising more corn. Having a higher return for soybeans is unusual and may have implications for 2015 planting decisions," Schnitkey says, adding that local crop potential will remain critical in 2015 planting decisions. "The 2014 projections may hold implications for shifts in acres in 2015. Similar to 2014 returns, return projections for 2015 suggest that soybeans will be more profitable than corn. Central Illinois has a larger comparative advantage in corn production over soybean production than many other areas of the U.S. Hence, relative return differences between corn and soybeans likely are larger outside of central Illinois. Hence, economic incentives to switch acres outside of Illinois likely will be larger than those for central Illinois."    

  • Corn harvest is almost to the halfway point in what some farmers are starting to say will be a "long fall," while soybean harvest continues to progress closer to the average pace, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progres report.Forty-six percent of the nation's corn crop is in the bin, Monday's data show. Last week's weather window allowed solid progress; a week ago, 31% of the crop was harvested. Despite that 15% 1-week jump, this year's progress thus far is still almost 20% off the average pace of 65%. According to Monday's report, farmers in all the Corn Belt states made double-digit progress.Soybean harvest went from 53% to 70% finished in the last week leading up to Sunday, and though strides remain longer for that crop's progress, it's still behind the normal pace of 76%. Progress in the Midwest was the most brisk over the last week; Iowa farmers got 20% of that state's soybean crop harvested in the last week, while Missouri farmers got 21% of that state's crop out. See more from Monday's report"The agreeable weather last week allowed many farmers to make good harvest progress, but with 36% of corn and 81% of soybeans harvested we remain behind the 5-year average," Iowa ag secretary Bill Northey said Monday. "Wet fields and rain showers continue to slow progress in some areas and hopefully warm, dry weather will allow harvest to progress in a timely manner."The weather is expected to remain mostly favorable for sustained harvest progress, with just a few interruptions from showers in spots around the Midwest, in the next week to 10 days, forecasters said Monday.Another Week Of Solid Harvest Progress Expected Monday's data weren't drastically different from what the trade expected going into the report; corn harvest is slightly behind what traders anticipated, while soybean progress is right on what was expected. That means any market reaction from the data heading into Tuesday's trade will likely be light, says Kluis Commodities market analyst and broker Al Kluis. That's especially true coming on the heels of the double-digit rally seen in both the corn and soybean pits on Monday."[Monday's] report is a little negative for prices. I expect corn to start out 1 to 2 cents lower after [Monday's] 10-cent rally," he says. "[For soybeans, the] report is likely to take prices 2 to 3 cents lower, following the 28-cent rally on Monday."