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USDA crop progress: Corn, soybean quality hold steady

Both crops creep closer to full maturity – and harvest.

Ben Potter

August 31, 2021

2 Min Read
Two ears of dent corn
Getty/PBouman

Analysts expected to see another quality downgrade for the U.S. corn crop this past week, but USDA opted to hold those ratings steady when the agency released its latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through Aug. 29. Soybean ratings also held steady from the prior week. Meantime, this year’s sorghum crop harvest is officially underway, while the spring wheat harvest is nearly complete.

Corn quality ratings remained unchanged from a week ago, with 60% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition through Sunday. Analysts thought USDA would dock quality another point. Another 26% is rated fair, with the remaining 14% rated poor or very poor – also unchanged from last week.

Physiologically, 91% of the crop has reached dough stage, up from 85% last week. More than half (59%) of the crop is now dented, up from 41% last week. And 9% is fully mature, up from 4% a week ago. The prior five-year average for each of those maturity stages are 89%, 55% and 10%, respectively.

Soybean crop quality was also stable week-over-week, with USDA reporting 56% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition through Sunday. Analysts offered the same average guess prior to today’s report. Another 29% is rated fair (up a point from last week), with the remaining 15% rated poor or very poor (down a point from last week).

Physiologically, most of the crop is now blooming, with 93% at that maturity stage – staying one point above the prior five-year average. And 9% of the crop is dropping leaves, up from 3% a week ago and ahead of the prior five-year average of 7%.

The 2021 spring wheat harvest moved from 77% complete a week ago up to 88% complete as of Aug. 29. That’s still well ahead of 2020’s pace of 66% and the prior five-year average of 71%.

The sorghum harvest has kicked off big time in Texas, where 63% of the crop has been harvested through Sunday. But USDA hasn’t reported any measurable progress for the other top five production states, leaving the nationwide average at 18%.

Click here to read the latest USDA crop progress report for additional information on cotton, rice, sorghum, oats, barley 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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