USDA crop progress: 9 of every 10 corn acres now planted

Soybean plantings hit the 75% benchmark this past week

Ben Potter, Senior editor

May 24, 2021

2 Min Read
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USDA’s latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through May 23, showed corn and soybean plantings are getting even closer to the finish line after farmers were able to make some additional headway in recent days. Today’s report also included a first look at spring wheat crop conditions and updates to winter wheat quality ratings and maturity.

Corn planting progress moved from 80% a week ago to 90% through Sunday, coming in slightly behind the average trade guess of 91%. This year’s progress is still outpacing 2020 (87%) as well as the prior five-year average of 80%. Each of the top 18 production states has finally made it past the halfway mark, with Colorado (64%) the farthest behind at this point.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the crop is now emerged, up from 41% a week ago. That’s also favorable to 2020’s pace of 61% and the prior five-year average of 54%. Southern states North Carolina (92%) and Texas (85%) continue to lead the way in crop maturity among the top 18 production states.

Soybean planting progress made it to 75% through Sunday, up from 61% a week ago. Even so, analysts thought USDA’s number would come in five points higher. This spring’s progress is still far ahead of 2020’s pace of 63% and the prior five-year average of 54%, however.

More than two-fifths of the crop (41%) is emerged, up from 20% a week ago and far ahead of 2020’s pace of 33% and the prior five-year average of 25%. Individual progress among the top 18 production states vary widely, from North Dakota (19%) on up through Mississippi (67%).

Spring wheat planting progress reached 94% through Sunday, matching analyst estimates and improving from last week’s mark of 85%. This year’s pace is still more swift than 2020 (78%) and the prior five-year average of 85%. Sixty-six percent of the crop is now emerged, which is also speedier than the prior five-year average of 56%.

Analysts missed the mark when it came to USDA’s initial quality assessment, though. The agency only has 45% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition, versus the average trade guess of 57%.

Winter wheat quality ratings also fall from 48% rated in good-to-excellent condition a week ago down to 47% through Sunday. Analysts were expecting to see a two-point increase. Another 35% of the crop is rated fair (up two points from last week), with the remaining 18% rated poor or very poor (down a point from last week). Physiologically, 67% of the crop is now headed, up from 53% last week and slightly behind the prior five-year average of 69%.

Click here to read the latest USDA crop progress report for additional information on cotton, rice, peanuts, sorghum, sunflowers and more.

About the Author(s)

Ben Potter

Senior editor, Farm Futures

Senior Editor Ben Potter brings two decades of professional agricultural communications and journalism experience to Farm Futures. He began working in the industry in the highly specific world of southern row crop production. Since that time, he has expanded his knowledge to cover a broad range of topics relevant to agriculture, including agronomy, machinery, technology, business, marketing, politics and weather. He has won several writing awards from the American Agricultural Editors Association, most recently on two features about drones and farmers who operate distilleries as a side business. Ben is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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