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Planting delays to push back US corn harvest 2-3 weeks

Highlights

Corn harvest in Midwest region likely by end-September

Corn growth is about 7-14 days behind schedule

US corn pollination progress at 58% as of Jul 28, vs 90% a year ago

New Delhi — US corn harvest is likely to be delayed by 2-3 weeks on an average in the marketing year ending August 2020, pushed behind schedule due to historic delays in plantings on the back of inclement weather, sources said.

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Corn harvest normally starts in the largest producing region of the US, the Midwest, by late August, but this year, it is likely to go beyond September and well into October, according to analysts and agriculture experts.

Harvest of the southern corn, which typically begins in early August, will still be on track, but the Midwest corn harvest will likely to be 2 to 3 weeks later than normal this year, said Arlan Suderman, chief commodity economist with INTL FCStone.

"The first of the (corn) harvest will start in Texas and across the Delta in the next couple of weeks, but it really won't see significant progress in the Midwest until late September, with much of the crop not ready for harvest until October or later," he said.

Senior agriculture meteorologist with Maxar, Don Keeney, said that the harvesting of corn will likely be at least three weeks behind schedule and will not begin in most areas until late September, pushing well into October. Kyle Tapley, another senior meteorologist from Maxar also holds a similar view.

PRESENT CROP CONDITIONS

At present corn growth and development is approximately 7 to 14 days behind schedule, Mark Licht, assistant Professor and extension cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University said.

"And weather forecasts are indicating slightly cooler than normal temperatures. This would indicate that harvest will be about 10 or more days behind [schedule]. Or the corn crop will be harvested at higher grain moisture. Or both," Licht added.

Corn pollination progress in the US reached 58% as of July 28, compared with 90% a year ago and below the five-year average of 83%, said Suderman from INTL FCStone.

Corn pollination is well behind the usual pace in major producers, Iowa and Illinois, he said.

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Pollination is the most critical phase of development for determining corn yields and late pollination increases the potential for stress on the corn crop, according to a report by Maxar.

Although the USDA has maintained its yields estimates at 166 bushels per acre, after cutting it by 10 bu/acre in its June World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates, market participants expect the yields of corn to be slightly lower than that.

Suderman from INTL FCStone expects corn yields to be around 165 bu/acre and Platts Analytics expect corn yields to be at 165.8 bu/acre.

The delay in harvest in the US, the largest exporter of corn, comes at a time when the second largest producer of the coarse grain, Brazil is stepping up its exports rapidly owing to bumper production and early harvest.

The South American nation exported 6.316 million mt in July, a record monthly export ever since the country started exporting corn, according to the data published by Brazil's trade department.

Concerns about lower yields and output due to unfavorable weather kept corn prices volatile on the Chicago Board of Trade for the last two-three months. Corn prices on the CBOT reached 5 year high of $4.7/bushel in mid-June but easing weather concerns have pulled prices lower.

The most active September contract of corn on the CBOT opened at $3.9/bushel on Friday.

-- Shikha Singh, shikha.singh1@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Debiprasad Nayak, newsdesk@spglobal.com