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CROP PROGRESS: Corn drops another point; soybeans improve

Spring wheat condition improves, and 24% of crop is harvested.

The corn crop’s condition rating dropped one point for the second straight week in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest weekly report, which likely surprised a number of traders who had expected an unchanged to slightly better rating.

Soybeans improved one point to 60% good/excellent condition, which is about what many in the trade had expected. Spring wheat improved a little for the first time in weeks to 32% good/excellent, largely due to a four-point improvement in North Dakota.

Lower corn ratings were posted in Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, while Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota had small improvements.

“This afternoon’s decline in corn ratings was a surprise, despite two straight increases in weekly soybean conditions,” Bryce Knorr, Farm Futures senior grain analyst, said. “This discrepancy could be a hint that pollination did not go well in some areas. This could impact yields but could be difficult for USDA to pick up in Thursday’s first production estimate for the season.”

The drop in the corn rating cut half a bushel per acre (bpa) off yield potential, according to Farm Futures’ models, he said. The average of the two ratings models is 164.8 bpa, with a range from 164.4 to 165.2 bpa.

“Other models using weather point to 164.5 bpa. All those estimates are slightly above our Farm Futures survey, which came in at 163.5 bpa,” Knorr said.

Iowa reported cooler-than-normal conditions this past week and below-normal rainfall.

 “According to the Aug. 1 U.S. Drought Monitor, Iowa’s region of severe drought expanded to include 16 counties in south-central and southeast Iowa,” the state report said.

Improvements in soybeans were noted in Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, while declines were noted in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. The overall improvement was in line with Farm Futures’ estimate that was based on the latest Vegetation Health Index maps and growers providing feedback from the field.

“The gains translate to about two-tenths of a bushel per acre of additional yield potential. This takes our average estimate based on ratings to 47.9, in a range from 47.6 to 48.2 bpa. The crop has improved a little since our survey, which was at 47.5 bpa,” Knorr noted.

The small improvement in spring wheat ended nine straight weeks of declines. However, North Dakota was the only state that improved, with that crop going to 33% good/excellent from 29% last week. Four of the six states in USDA’s survey were unchanged, and Minnesota’s mostly healthy crop dropped two points to 85% good/excellent.

“Spring wheat conditions finally improved, though it’s too late and too little to help production much,” Knorr said. “Our yield is at 36.5 bpa, on average, in a range from 35.9 to 37.1 bpa, but those are inflated somewhat by increased abandonment. All-wheat production could still be down 30 million to 40 million bu. Thursday, when USDA updates its projection for the crop.”

Spring wheat was 24% harvested versus 27% a year ago and the five-year average of 21%.

Winter wheat was 94% harvested to lead the five-year average by two points.

In other tallies, 7% of the corn had dented versus the 11% average, and 42% was in the dough stage versus the 44% average. Soybeans setting pods reached 65% versus the 62% average.

Nationally, sorghum was 26% coloring versus the 32% average. The crop was rated 61% good/excellent, unchanged from a week ago.

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