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Late Southeast Missouri harvest wrapping up
This year's fall harvest is winding down behind schedule, due to late planting and fall rains.
During the past month, Southeast Missouri counties have had more than two inches of rain -- some, including New Madrid and Pemiscot counties, nearly three and a half inches -- keeping farmers out of the fields.
"It's been a little slower this year," said Jake Fisher, former director of the University of Missouri Department of Agriculture's Delta Research Center in Portageville. "We haven't completed the harvest yet. There's still some beans and some cotton out there, but it's coming along and everybody can see the end of the tunnel, I think."
Fisher said Southeast Missouri's crops have been about two weeks behind schedule throughout the year. Statewide, the soybean harvest is five days behind last year, with 91 percent harvested as of Nov. 6, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service's Missouri field office. Cotton was 17 days behind last year's harvest, with 89 percent harvested.
In Southeast Missouri, about 80 percent of soybeans were harvested, compared to 97 percent at this time last year, the NASS said.
The one crop that's been the exception to this year's late harvest is corn, Fisher said.
By the last week of October, all of Southeast Missouri's corn was harvested. Statewide, the corn harvest was actually four days ahead of last year, according to NASS.
Local yields have been mixed, depending on their location, Fisher said.
"It's all over the board," Fisher said. "Some are better than last, some slightly less, but overall it's been a good year."
While some farmers may have lower yields, prices have remained good, which will help those with smaller crops continue to make a profit, he said.
Price roller coaster
Corn prices have been on a roller-coaster ride this year after hitting record high prices near $8 a bushel this summer. Late last week, corn prices tumbled after the USDA forecast the 2011-2012 corn crop would be 123 million bushels lower than last year. In its Nov. 9 world agricultural supply and demand estimates, the USDA also cut the national average yield forecast by 1.4 bushels per acre below last month's projections. Now at an average of 146.7 bushels per acre, this year's corn yield would be the lowest since 2003-2004, according to the USDA's economic research service.
After being above $6.60 earlier this month, corn dropped in price throughout last week, ending Friday at $6.38, according to the Chicago Board of Trade.
Last week, the USDA also lowered expected demand by 100 million bushels due in part to the smaller crop.
"The market has reacted negatively," said Mike Geske of Matthews, Mo., who serves on the National Corn Growers Association board of directors. "We've had continued downward price because everyone is worried about demand destruction, the recession and things going on in Europe. The economy has more to do with it than anything."
Soybean prices are also now about $3 a bushel less than they were trading earlier this year.
After hitting a high of $14.74 per bushel in the summer, soybeans closed Friday at $11.75.
"Those high prices trimmed demand," Geske said. "A lot of us claimed all along that the prices were higher than justified. They were. They cut back a lot of demand, much more than was necessary, especially since crop production it lower than we thought it was going to be. Still, prices are still falling."
Overall in Southeast Missouri corn yields were less than stellar, Geske said. After farmers had too much rain, causing flooded fields in April and May, the hot, dry summer was devastating.
"In the Bootheel, there were a few that did well, but for the most part, corn yields were very disappointing," Geske said.
However, Southeast Missouri farmers are more pleased with their soybean and cotton crops this year, both of which did well, he said.