Ag Weather Forum

Harvest Stays Two Weeks Behind

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Bitter cold Nov. 10-16, which led to more than 1,000 new low temperature records, continued to disrupt corn harvest. (Midwest Climate Center graphic)

Corn harvest progress remains slow in the Midwest and Northern Plains. The corn harvest remains about two weeks behind normal in the Midwest, and even further behind in the Northern Plains; North Dakota is only 23% finished with corn harvest, and South Dakota is at 53% harvested. Harvest remains the slowest since the chronically delayed harvest in 2009, when at this time of November, North Dakota corn harvest was only 8% complete, and South Dakota was just 27% done with corn harvest.

Moisture levels for corn remain in the 20% range, which is virtually unchanged from a week ago. The harsh cold wave of Nov. 10-16 offered no drying for grain still in the field. Last year, moisture content was running around 16-18%. It continues to look as through more of the remaining corn to be harvested will be left out in the fields over the winter to be harvested in the spring if it is in a salvageable condition. Based on current progress, the region leaving the most corn in the fields will be the Northern Plains.

Soybean harvest progress is running in the 90s percentile in the Midwest. This is still seven to 14 days behind normal. Only 84% of the soybeans have been harvested in North Dakota. Some may be lost.

The weather pattern during the next week in the Midwest will be deteriorating. Light to moderate rain, with locally heavier amounts, is expected during the middle of this week, with another significant precipitation event expected early next week. The heaviest activity will favor southern and eastern areas. The Northern plains will see a light precipitation event on Wednesday, and another early next week.

Winter wheat planting in the Southern Plains is complete, except in Texas. Soil moisture levels are much lower than they were a year ago when they were adequate to surplus in the major producing areas, but soils are not dry enough to put any significant stress on the crop. There is the chance of some light to locally moderate precipitation in the region between Wednesday and Friday, and again early next week.

In South America, hot and dry conditions over Parana and southern Mato Grosso, Brazil this week will dry out soils and increase stress on developing soybeans. The next chance of any significant rainfall appears to be next Monday. This situation bears watching. Northern Mato Grosso should see enough rainfall during the next week to support the soybean crop. The crop is being planted in Rio Grande do Sul at this time under mostly adequate soil moisture. Above normal temperatures and limited rainfall persists in the northeast. This is affecting planting progress.

Across central Argentina, there are no major concerns at this time, with mostly adequate soil moisture for planting and developing corn and any early soybean planting.

Our latest calculation of the sea surface temperate in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean for the first half of November has risen to 1.0 degrees Celsius above normal. This is up from the 0.6 degrees C above normal observed during the month of October, and the 0.4 degree C below normal observed in September. This would suggest that a weak El Nino has developed. The Australia Southern Oscillation Index 30-day average has also reached the weak El Nino threshold at minus 8.32. This development is reflected in the weather patterns setting up in the U.S., with warmer weather in the central U.S., and wetter conditions over the southern and eastern U.S., occasionally affecting the Midwest. This El Nino pattern will also have to be watched for causing possible drought conditions to set up in some of the central or northern soybean areas of Brazil as well.

Mike Palmerino can be reached at



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