Thunderstorms roared across parts of western Texas Thursday, dumping golf ball-sized hail on the region's cotton fields.
With the market leaning heavily on U.S. exports to fill a global production gap, cotton prices surged limit up Friday, falling just short of the post-Reconstruction Era high set just last week.
Further north in the Grain Belt, things may be due for a change, but so far this October, the weather has been spectacular. And that has growers bringing in a bountiful harvest at breakneck pace.
Farmers are way ahead of schedule with the 2010 harvest. Last year, weather wreaked havoc during the harvest season. This year, it's a different story, as producers enjoy a stretch of warm, dry weather. On Monday, the Department of Agriculture released its weekly harvest progress report.
According to USDA, the corn harvest is 68 percent complete. That's up from 16 percent at this same time a year ago, and it's nearly twice the pace of the five-year average.
The U.S. soybean harvest is almost in the bin. At this time last year, only 29 percent of the crop was gathered. This year, an outstanding 83 percent of soybeans have been harvested.
The nation's cotton harvest also is way ahead of schedule at 41 percent complete. The 2009 crop was only 15 percent harvested at this time last year.
Meanwhile in wheat country, farmers are nearing completion of the winter wheat planting. 80 percent of the crop has been sewn, right on pace with the five-year average. And 51 percent of the winter wheat already has emerged.