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Harvest drawing to a close over much of the Midwest
By Doug Schmitz
Iowa Correspondent

AMES, Iowa – Harvest is coming to an end over much of the Midwest, according to the USDA for the week ending Nov. 12.
“Most of the corn and soybeans have been removed in the central and western Corn Belt,” Dennis Todey, agricultural meteorologist and USDA Midwest Climate Hub director in Ames, told Farm World. “The northeast and eastern Corn Belt is a little different. States there are still lagging in harvest as crops were slow to mature.
“Corn was 88 percent harvested, nationally,” he added. “But Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio ranged from 52-68 percent harvested. I heard a recent report from northern Indiana that harvest was slowed there because corn was not drying down, and elevators were being slow to accept corn because of the high moisture content.”
He said winter wheat conditions are generally pretty good in the Farm World readership areas.
“Conditions in early November have been dry, with fairly limited precipitation,” he said. “Most of the area has had less – a few tenths (of an) inch of rain at most has not been a hindrance to harvest. But that has allowed conditions to dry more. There has been some increased drought coverage.
“Also, fire issues have started to pop up, mostly in eastern Kentucky,” he added. “But burn bans have been put in place in counties from Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, with a few field fires still occurring.”
In Indiana, many farmers were done or nearly done with harvest, with the warmer-than-normal, dry week allowing them to make good harvest progress, the USDA said. Both corn and soybean harvests made excellent progress, with corn slightly behind the five-year average, and soybeans surpassing the five-year average harvest progress.
In Illinois, corn harvested reached 95 percent, compared to the five-year average of 91 percent. Winter wheat emerged reached 85 percent, compared to the five-year average of 76 percent. Winter wheat was rated 4 percent poor, 23 percent fair, 55 percent good, and 18 percent excellent.
In Michigan, rain early in the week kept farmers out of fields. But warmer, dry weather later in the week allowed farmers to make good harvest progress. Soybean and corn for grain harvest remained behind their respective five-year averages due to the wet weather conditions. Winter wheat planting continued to be delayed due to a slower-than-normal soybean harvest.
In Ohio, favorable weather supported substantial row crop harvest progress. Farmers reported high corn moisture content continued to slow corn harvest progress in western counties. Sixty-eight percent of corn was harvested, with 95 percent of soybeans harvested. Winter wheat was 90 percent emerged.
In Iowa, corn harvested for grain reached 94 percent statewide, on pace with last year, but 10 days ahead of the five-year average. Soybean harvest was nearly complete, on pace with last year, and nine days ahead of the average.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said, “The unseasonably warm and dry weather this past week offered Iowa farmers another suitable stretch to finish up harvest, and tackle other farm work. We expect warmer temperatures to hang around this week, though forecasts show a more active storm track as we approach Thanksgiving.”
In Kentucky, the state experienced above-normal temperatures, and below-normal precipitation. Moderate drought conditions continue to impact the western and central parts of the state. The corn harvest is now at 93 percent complete, while soybeans harvested were at 81 percent.
The planting of wheat has also continued, with reports indicating 69 percent of the 2024 crop has been planted; however, dry conditions have slowed emergence somewhat. Wheat is currently at 47 percent emerged, down 6 percent from the five-year average.
In Tennessee, the state continued to experience dry weather through midweek, with some rain received across the state heading into the weekend. Rain brought a welcome reprieve to dry pastures and soil, but more moisture is needed for recovery, the state’s report said.
The state’s harvest of corn and soybeans is approaching completion, with cotton following closely behind. The rains allowed some producers to proceed with winter wheat seeding, but more will be needed for the seeded crop to germinate properly.
Todey said, “Conditions over the next couple weeks look to be a flip from current as colder air will overspread the area throughout much of the rest of the month.
“December outlooks flip back to more likely warm over the area,” he said. “And the drier conditions seem more likely to continue. Drought conditions probably will not worsen too much more as we do not expect as much precipitation this time of year. But some additional U.S. Drought Monitor coverage worsening may occur.
“El Nino (the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean) is still the main driver as we look ahead to the winter,” he added. “Hence, the outlooks for the eastern Corn Belt lean warm and dry for December, January and February.”
Justin Glisan, state climatologist for Iowa, told Farm World winter outlooks show high probabilities of a moderate-to-strong El Niño.
“This typically means warmer-than-average temperatures, but a weaker signal on precipitation behavior,” he said. “If we average the last 12 El Niño events, the averages again show generally warmer temperatures, wetter conditions over Iowa, and drier probabilities across the Ohio Valley, into the Appalachians.
“There’s a 30 percent chance of this El Niño being historically strong,” he added. “In El Niño winters, we also typically see less snowfall across the Upper Midwest, and in the Ohio Valley. But it doesn’t necessarily mean less precipitation in general though, given warmer temperatures.”