A DeWitt County farmer tills cornstalks on a sunny, November day. Illinois farmers had five suitable days for fieldwork during the week ending Nov. 14. Temperatures averaged 48.3 degrees, 6.3 degrees above normal, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)

Another week of mostly mild, windy conditions allowed farmers to wrap up harvest and continue fall tillage and fertilizer applications through the first half of the month.

Harvest was complete in Illinois, except for a few scattered fields in areas, with 99% of corn and soybeans in the bin as of Nov. 15, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Illinois field office reported.

Last year, farmers harvested just 77% of corn and 91% of beans as of the same date.

“My son and I wrapped up harvest last week on our farm in Randolph County after a nice stretch of fair weather,” Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr. said Wednesday. “We are thankful our equipment ran smoothly throughout harvest and are glad to park the combine in the shed before Thanksgiving.”

NASS now enters the process of contacting farmers for confidential surveys to gather final crop production numbers and on-farm storage estimates. Guebert reported “decent” corn and soybean yields on his farm this season. Late summer dryness knocked the top end off crop potential in many areas while other weather events (including the derecho wind event in August and hail) clipped yields in other areas.

“These surveys are the basis for the official USDA estimates of production and harvested acres of all major agricultural commodities in the United States and year-end grain and oilseed supplies,” said Mark Schleusener, NASS state statistician.

Crop prices continued to rally due in part to a smaller-than-expected crops in the U.S. and strong demand.

“I’m disappointed I sold grain too early, but pleased we have seen prices rally,” Guebert said. “As we look to 2021, I’m optimistic about these late price rallies and the Chinese buying our corn (at a record pace).”

The trade focus shifts to South American crop potential between now and the release of USDA’s annual crop production summary and quarterly grain stocks reports Jan. 12.

After a slow start, soybean planting in Brazil reached 70% complete by the second week of the month, just ahead of the average pace.

“They planted in less-than-ideal conditions (in Brazil), but they got the crop in,” Eric Snodgrass, Nutrien senior atmospheric scientist, told the RFD Radio Network. Early next year, the question will be “can they get the (soybean) crop out fast enough to plant the safrinha (second-crop) corn.”

Conditions remained dry Thursday in Illinois just ahead of weekend rain chances. Subsoil moisture rated 41% short to very short, 58% adequate and 1% surplus.

“We do need to get moisture before the soil freezes over, so it’s locked in and we have it for spring,” said Snodgrass, who looks for the moderate weather pattern to persist through the first week of December with just a few shots of cold air.