Even if the corn being picked now results in another record crop, cash and futures prices higher than $5/bu. suggest any additional pressure is likely to yield volatile results.

With that in mind, according to last week’s CME Group Ethanol Outlook Report, “USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last Friday said he expects the Environmental Protection Agency in early to mid-October to approve E-15 (15% ethanol, 85% gasoline) for newer vehicles, although he added, ‘I don’t know if they will necessarily say it is appropriate for all vehicles.’”

Rather than wait for further testing with E-15, corn and ethanol groups have been urging a mandate of a 12% ethanol inclusion rate in gasoline – 2% more than the current 10% requirement – for all vehicles.

See the report at cmegroup.barchart.com/ethanol/Sep-2010.pdf

For the week ending Sept. 19, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service:
Corn – 98% is at or beyond the dent stage, 19% ahead of last year and 7% ahead of the average pace. Progress was at or ahead of normal in all estimating states except Texas. Crop maturation continued at a rapid pace as warm, mostly dry weather prevailed throughout much of the major producing areas during the week. 69% is at or beyond the mature stage, 49% or 20 days ahead of last year and 21% ahead of average. Crop maturity was 58% or more ahead of last year and 30% or more ahead of the five-year average in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. 18% of the crop is in the bin, 14% ahead of last year and 8% ahead of average. Harvest advanced 20% in Illinois during the week, leaving overall progress 37% ahead of last year and 26% ahead of the five-year average. 68% is in Good to Excellent condition, the same as a year ago.

Soybeans – Leaves were dropping on 60% of the crop, 24% ahead of last year and 8% more than the five-year average. Aided by mostly hot temperatures, leaf drop was rapid throughout much of the major soybean-producing areas. By week’s end, harvest was underway in all estimating states except North Carolina and Wisconsin. Harvest is 8% complete, 6% ahead of last year and 2% more than average. 63% is rated in Good or Excellent condition, 4% less than last year.

Winter wheat – 18% is planted, 4% behind last year and 3% behind the five-year average. The most significant delay was evident in Montana, where some producers were busy wrapping up the harvest of their 2010 crop.

Spring wheat – 87% is harvested, 5% ahead of last year but 9% behind the five-year average. The most significant delay was evident in Montana, where cool temps throughout the growing season, coupled with unusually wet weather throughout the harvest season, pushed progress to 23% behind last year and 31% behind the five-year average.

Sorghum – 91% is at or beyond the coloring stage, 12% ahead of last year and 8% ahead of the five-year average. 47% is at or beyond the mature stage, 10% ahead of last year and 2% ahead of the five-year average. While crop maturity remained behind both last year and the average pace in Texas, continued warm temps promoted double-digit maturity in Kansas, pushing progress to 20% ahead of last year and 8% ahead of the five-year average. 23% has been harvested, 4% behind last year and 8% behind the five-year average. The most significant delay was evident in Texas, where heavy rainfall in the Southern Low Plains delayed harvest. 62% is in Good to Excellent condition, 13% more than the same time last year.

Barley – 88% is harvested, which is 1% behind last year and 7% behind the five-year average. Harvest in Montana remained slow as cool, wet weather hampered fieldwork, allowing producers just three days to harvest 4% of their crop.

Pasture – 46% of the nation’s pasture and range is rated as Good or Excellent, 1% less than last year. 23% is rated Poor or Very Poor, the same as a year ago. States reporting 40% or more of pasture as Poor or Very Poor were: Alabama (53%); Arkansas (52%); Georgia (47%); Indiana (56%); Kentucky (60%); North Carolina (49%); Maryland (46%); Pennsylvania (46%); Virginia (70%); and West Virginia (67%).