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Column: Crop Watch - Slow progress in Ohio; mixed results after Kansas rains

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (Reuters) - Corn harvesting remained slow last week in Ohio, and much-needed rains in Kansas were helpful for parched wheat, though they were not as widespread as hoped. The U.S. Crop Watch growers are either finished or nearing completion on their personal harvests, mostly on schedule or ahead, and the unusually warm and dry weather expected this week will allow for increased fieldwork.

Corn stalks are seen on Roger Hadley's corn and soybean farm in Woodburn, Indiana, U.S., October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

Midweek rains and very wet corn curbed activity in Ohio, but the favorable forecast for the next several days should make for a strong week of harvest. The Ohio producer expects to finish the subject corn field this week.

Corn across Ohio was only 32% harvested a week ago, the slowest for the date since 2011 and well behind the recent average of 52%. That progress was also 2 points behind the same date in 2019, even after last year’s record-late corn planting efforts in the state.

Winter wheat ratings in top state Kansas were well below normal last week with just 29% of the state’s crop rated as good or excellent. That is the worst score for the time of year since 1991 and well off the week’s five-year average of 50%.

Conditions are likely to have improved over the last week after some much-needed rain, but the Kansas producer reports that rain amounts in his central location were a little less than half of what was expected. His fields received anywhere from sprinkles to 0.8 inch (20 mm) of rain, lifting overall crop health, though he thinks an excellent wheat harvest is completely off the table at this point.

The best rain was observed in the southernmost part of Kansas with up to 3 inches (76 mm), but at least half of the state’s wheat belt missed out on meaningful rains. Another potential moisture opportunity is in the forecast for a week from now, and that is going to be critical to improve spotty wheat emergence before winter dormancy.

The eight Crop Watch growers have rated yield potential each week on a scale from 1 to 5. Scores of 1 or 5 represent yields close to or exceeding 15% below or above average, while 2 and 4 reflect yields around 5% to 10% from average.

The unweighted, eight-field soybean average landed at 3.66 versus 3.22 last year and 4.06 in 2018. The average harvest date was Oct. 2, some 12 days earlier than last year and nine days earlier than in 2018.

With Ohio yet to be finalized, the corn average remains at 3.59, above 3.25 last year but below 3.94 two years ago. Harvest dates for corn were similar to those in 2018 but quicker than last year. North Dakota’s mid-October harvest was much earlier than the mid-December and mid-March harvests from the previous two years.

The following are the states and counties of the Crop Watch corn and soybean fields: Griggs, North Dakota; Freeborn, Minnesota; Burt, Nebraska; Rice, Kansas; Cedar, Iowa; Crawford, Illinois; Boone, Indiana; Fairfield, Ohio.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.

Editing by Matthew Lewis