Crop progress report: Harvest moon over Wrigley

It's close to the end of the line for my crops, as the long, green days of summer have faded into the harsh reality of another coming winter.

It's close to the end of the line for my crops, as the long, green days of summer have faded into the harsh reality of another coming winter.


Much like American farmers’ harvesting efforts this fall, I’m behind on posting fresh crop updates here. Unlike the farmers, I don’t really have a good excuse.

But anyway… As Chicagoans know, our year-long monsoon season resumed again in October. Here and across much of the Midwest, it rained and rained and rained some more.

Kernels dented and hardened, this ear is about ready for pickin’.

Kernels dented and hardened, this ear is about ready for pickin’.

That kept combines parked in their sheds most of the month, and as a result, the U.S. harvest is running far behind the usual pace (as of last weekend, about half the soybean acreage and a quarter of the corn was harvested, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture; normally, about 87% of the soybeans and 71% of the corn is in the bin by that time).

That’s not a huge problem if it doesn’t drag on for too much longer. But the longer crops are still in the fields as November marches along, the greater the risk of yield loss as wind whips around dry, brittle plants and ears and bean pods drop to the ground.

While the harvest delays have fueled skittishness in the grain futures markets and propped up prices, we’re still in line for whopping crops, as the next USDA crop production update Nov. 10 is expected to show.

According to a Dow Jones Newswires survey, analysts project a 12.995 billion-bushel U.S. corn harvest, down 0.2% from an October USDA estimate but still the second-biggest crop on record. The soybean crop is pegged at 3.27 billion bushels, up 0.6% from the USDA’s October figure and a record.

Has-beans: With most of the leaves having dropped off the plant, all we have left are the pods.

Has-beans: With most of the leaves having dropped off the plant, all we have left are the pods.

Up on the roof, as you can see, my corn and soybeans remain standing, but are otherwise deader than Reagan. I’ll probably give them another week or so to let the ears and bean pods to dry out, then start plucking and tally up my yield.

So this is a good opportunity to announce the first annual Corn King of Wrigleyville Corn- and Bean-Counting Contest! After I shuck the ears and pick the pods, I’ll dump everything into a glass container, post a picture on my blog, and start taking guesses on the total number of kernels and beans.

Whoever has the closest guess to the actual numbers wins a special CKOW t-shirt! How do you like that, sports fans? Stay tuned.

Fun corn factoid #6: The baseball term “can of corn,” often used to describe a lazy, easily-catchable fly ball, is believed to have originated in the 19th century and refers to the practice where a grocer would use a stick with a hook on the end to tip a can of vegetables off a high shelf, then catch it in his hands or outstretched apron. It’s a favorite phrase of White Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson.

Till next time CKOWers, we gone!

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One response to “Crop progress report: Harvest moon over Wrigley

  1. Reagan’s not dead, see races in New Jersey and Virginia, and you don’t look as spry as the Aug. 15th photo. Hurry and harvest, I want to guess.

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