US corn harvest accelerating due to early planting, drought

26 percent of crop mature; farmers harvesting early

The U.S. corn harvest is accelerating due to early planting and the ongoing drought, both of which have hastened crop maturity, according to the government. Roughly 6 percent of the corn was harvested as of Aug. 26, compared to 4 percent the week of Aug. 19 and none during the same time in 2011.

About 26 percent of the total crop has been rated mature, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up from 16 percent the week of Aug. 19. Corn futures have risen 60 percent since mid-June, causing predictions of increased global food costs. “We started taking in corn on Aug. 17, the earliest ever,” said Scott Docherty, the general manager for Top Flight Grain Cooperative. “Farmers are harvesting early because many fear that the heat weakened the stalks and they don’t want to lose any more bushels.”

Nationwide, 22 percent of the corn crop is rated in good or excellent condition, down from 23 percent the week of Aug. 19 and 54 percent in 2011. On Aug. 21, 51 percent of the Midwest was still in a moderate to exceptional drought, down from 66 percent the week before.