Another crop progress report

Aug. 15 - The corn is topping out around 6 feet, 6 inches, and that's about as far as it's going to go vertically. That' fine, because from here on, it's all about the ears.

Aug. 15 - The corn is topping out around 6 feet, 6 inches, and that's about as far as it's going to go vertically. That' fine, because from here on, it's all about the ears.

After a few days off to recover from Lollapalooza, it’s time to get back to our crops.

On Aug. 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its first estimates for this year’s harvests, projected American farmers will reap a corn crop of 12.76 billion bushels and a soybean crop of almost 3.2 billion bushels. As Chuck Abbott, one of my former Reuters colleagues, reported, this would be the biggest soybean harvest on record and the second-biggest corn crop.

All eyes on ears

All eyes on ears

That’s good news for everyone. Bountiful corn and soybean supplies help keep food prices in check. Any spike upward in corn or soybean prices eventually ripples into other crops, such as wheat, as well as into meat and other foods, eventually hitting you at the grocery checkout.

As for my stuff, everything’s moving right along. The corn looks to have completed the critical pollination stage. For the next month, the ears will be fattening up till the plant reaches maturity and it’s time to harvest. The soybeans are developing and filling pods, also heading toward maturity over the next month or so. If the corn looks a little ragged, that’s because it’s taken a beating the last few weeks from high winds and intense sunshine.

For you other aggies out there, I’ll be guest-writing for Dow Jones Newswires next week, covering the CME Group’s soybean futures market on a freelance basis. I covered that and other related subjects for Dow Jones back in 1995-97, so it’s very familiar turf. Check it out if you can.

Each of these pods will produce 3-4 soybeans.

Each of these pods will produce 3-4 soybeans.

Fun corn factoid #4: One bushel of corn weighs about 56 pounds, is the roughly the size of a large bag of dog food and contains about 27,000 kernels, or 33-34 ears.

Based on this year’s estimated 12.76 billion-bushel harvest, that’s 433.8 billion ears, or 1,400 ears for every man, woman and child in the U.S. Who said two ears is all you get?

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