The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) weekly Crop Progress report estimated that 62% of the 2019 U.S. soybean crop had been harvested as of October 27. This was an advancement of 16% from the previous week and compares with 69% collected the same week last year. As one would expect, the best progress has been made in the Delta and central Plains regions where the current harvest pace is running ahead of last year. In contrast, harvest is running behind last year in the major soybean-producing states of the Midwest including Illinois at 69% versus 84% last year, Indiana at 71% versus 78% last year, and Minnesota where the current pace of 62% is well below 83% the same week last year. The following chart shows weekly harvest data adjusted for the current year and highlights the below-average pace of the current harvest campaign.
As seen in the chart above, U.S. soybean farmers typically finish collecting the majority of their crops by mid-November, leaving some producers to finish the last bit of harvest into early December. Looking at history going back to 1996, the 2019 campaign is the second slowest on record lagging behind only the 2009 crop when just about 46% of the crop had been collected by late October. According to USDA, the 2009 harvest was slow to begin in October due to persistent rainfall and mostly below average temperatures before a warm, dry pattern settled in throughout November, helping farmers to reach 96% by the end of November. A similar outlook appears to be in the cards for the 2019 harvest, albeit from a much-improved starting point than was seen in 2009. The November forecast outlooks created by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center indicate that a warmer pattern is expected across much of the U.S. in November, while slightly favoring improved changes for above average moisture in the central Plains region. If realized, this outlook should help U.S. farmers to collect the remainder of the 2019 soybean crop in the coming weeks.