Iowa farmers have harvested five-percent of the state’s corn and soybean crops, according the latest update from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The mostly dry weather over the last week helped farmers get into their fields, but the harvest is about two weeks behind usual. In southeast Iowa, Ray Jenkins is a grain merchandiser at Cargill’s Eddyville plant. He says attractive market prices, coupled with discount waivers for corn that isn’t sufficiently dry, are also motivating farmers into the fields.

“Harvest jump-started here about 10 days ago,” Jenkins says. “A processor like ourselves that needs a steady supply of corn – we needed a lot of corn here in September – so we had very attractive bids and moisture discount schedules which got harvest started in the Osklaloosa, Ottumwa, and New Sharon area.” The new corn quality is good, according to Jenkins, but the corn kernels aren’t weighing as much as the past couple years.

“Average test weight on our wet corn coming in is around 55-and-a-half pounds. That’s lighter than we’ve seen the two previous years when we’ve had an exceptionally heavy corn crop,” Jenkins says. “But, I think by the time this crop is fully matured, we’ll be dealing with a crop that’s somewhere between 56-and-a-half and 57-and-a-half pounds test weight.” Per bushel test weights determine farmers’ paychecks because heavier corn contains more nutrients. According to the USDA report, about 61 percent of the state’s corn crop has matured, behind the normal 76 percent. Corn crop conditions through Sunday were labeled as 8 percent very poor, 18 percent poor, 38 percent fair, 32 percent good and 4 percent excellent. The condition of the soybean crop improved slightly to 9 percent very poor, 18 percent poor, 38 percent fair, 31 percent good and 4 percent excellent.