Market Analyst Notes Variability in Harvest Progress


Mike Zuzolo, President of Global Commodity Analytics in Kansas, took a look into the U.S. crop harvest reports and says things are a bit unusual in 2021. The biggest thing he noticed is a lot of variability in yield numbers.

“Well, I think the biggest thing I see continues to be the corn harvest pace versus the bean harvest pace. It suggests corn yields are indeed more variable, and I hate to say lower because of the issues that we’re seeing with the yields that are coming in, but very good yields, very top-end yields in places like Kansas and Nebraska.”

While he sees some good yield numbers, the question remains whether those yield numbers will be consistent during harvest.

“Very strong yields in certain parts of Illinois, but are they top-end yields? I think that’s where probably 90 percent of the producers in Kansas and Nebraska that I work with are saying we’ve got top end yields in our corn, and they’re getting close to wrapping up. They’re probably two-thirds, if not 75 percent complete. But in central Illinois through Central Indiana, they’re probably around 50 percent completed on corn, maybe closer to 70-75 percent in soybeans, but the rain’s slowing them down. And what they’re telling me, essentially, is I’ve got top-end yields on about 25 percent of my corn in the state, but everything else is above average.

Six of the 18 major corn-producing states are at 50 percent or greater on harvest progress. It’s a different story in the soybean harvest; “Completely upside down when it comes to soybeans; only two of the 18 states are at 50 percent or over on harvest and only at 34 percent versus 35 percent a year ago, so I’m going to stick with that mindset.”

Problems with Tar Spot in corn may also be a factor in the variable yield. “The Tar Spot issues that we’ve heard a lot about also kind of correspond with that hot, dry weather, and the fact that, in some cases, even corn that was applied with fungicide didn’t seem to hold up as well. I have a client in Indiana telling me that his dry land corners are outperforming his irrigated corn, and he put on the second-or-third-largest amount of water on his irrigated corn that he ever has. So, he’s getting the 195 to 220 yields, but that’s more on the dryland corners, and his irrigated is actually down around 161-170. And that’s not an odd thing to hear from producers east of the Mississippi River.”

Zuzolo says the drought has flipped harvest 2021 upside down; “The more I find out about producers that are in the heart of harvest right now, most of them are just saying, ‘dry and hot August, I can see it in the fields that didn’t get the rain,’ so I think if we go back in January or February after we get USDA’s final yield numbers, then we compare that to like a 60-or-90-day preset map, and we hone in on August and July, you’ll probably see a lot of correlation there.”