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Slow Corn: 14% Picked, 12% Still Not Mature

Kinda wet in some of those corn fields... Latham hi-Tech Seeds, tweet, 2019.10.23.
Kinda wet in some of those corn fields… Latham hi-Tech Seeds, tweet from the field, 2019.10.23.

South Dakota’s harvest is proceeding slowly. According to the latest stats from the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the USD of A, as of Sunday, October 27, we’d harvested only 14% of our corn. On average over the previous five years, by the end of October we’ve had 46% of our corn in the hopper. 12% of our corn crop still hasn’t matured; usually by Halloween our corn is 100% ready to pick.

Things are worse in North Dakota: they’ve only picked 6% of their corn, down from the recent average of 41%. 23% of North Dakota’s corn isn’t mature yet; only 2% is usually not mature by the end of October.

The corn harvest is slower all over: across the eighteen biggest corn-growing states, 43% of corn has been harvested, compared to the recent average of 61%. Corn maturity is at 93%, compared to the usual 99%. The only states meeting or beating their recent average corn harvest rates are Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.

The only major crop we appear to be ahead on right now is winter wheat. We’re on average track with 97% of winter wheat planted, and 87% of that crop has emerged, a little better than the five-year average of 84%.

Moisture is holding back the harvest in many places: 68% of South Dakota fields have adequate topsoil moisture, while 31% have surplus moisture.


  1. Edwin Arndt 2019-10-29 09:04

    It’s worth noting that corn that is not mature now is not going
    to mature.

  2. Debbo 2019-10-29 18:59

    From eyeballing fields as I drive past, my guess for southeastern Minnesota is that around 10-15% of corn has been combined. About half to 2/3s of beans have been harvested.

    Not good. Not good at all.

  3. Adam 2019-10-30 02:32

    Is it possible that the, “12% still not mature” claim may be due to farmer laziness this year? It’s not like they have to harvest EVERYTHING that’s ready ALL at the same time. Could they just be buying themselves more time to get this years’ work done?

    Is it possible, in this age of Trump, that they’d rather get paid NOT to plant and harvest, than to work in their air conditioned, GPS auto-piloted, surround-sound equipped, hi-tech luxury offices?

    IDK, I am just wondering. Allow a guy to wonder about this weird, inconsistent demographic. The question, about these folks, always seems to be, “what’s their preferred flavor of the month, this month?”

  4. Debbo 2019-10-30 14:09

    Adam, can’t say about “air conditioned, GPS auto-piloted, surround-sound equipped, hi-tech luxury offices,” because I never had that kind of equipment on the farm. I can say that sitting on the tractor or combine, etc, was the easy part. It was all the getting off to unplug something, getting back on, getting off to roll a big rock into the fence line, getting back on, getting off to untangle something, getting back on, getting off to dig out when stuck, getting back on, etc, that was really tiring for me, my family and neighbors.

    Those of you who operate “air conditioned, GPS auto-piloted, surround-sound equipped, hi-tech luxury offices”; do you still have those issues? Why wouldn’t you?

    Also, of course there are some who’d “rather get paid NOT to plant and harvest.” Farmers are perfect or monolithic. There are a few lazy bums, just like any profession. Of course, when you’re an independent business owner, being a lazy bum really shortens the life of your business.

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