USDA crop progress: Corn, soybean quality slides lower

Spring wheat conditions hold steady from a week ago.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

August 16, 2021

2 Min Read
Close-up of soybean pods in soybean field.

USDA’s latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through August 15, showed corn and soybeans each take an unexpected drop in quality. While analysts were expecting conditions to hold steady, corn eroded two points lower, while soybeans took a three-point ratings hit. Spring wheat ratings held steady, as anticipated, but overall quality remains dismal as harvest crosses the halfway mark.

Corn quality eroded two points lower this past week, with 62% of the crop now rated in good-to-excellent condition. Analysts though USDA would leave the high end of quality ratings unchanged. Another 25% of the crop is rated fair (steady from last week), with the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor (up two points from last week).

Physiologically, the crop has continued to mature more quickly in 2021 than it has in recent years. Seventy-three percent of the crop has reached the dough stage, up from 56% a week ago. That’s slightly behind 2020’s pace of 74% but still moderately ahead of the prior five-year average of 68%. And 22% of the crop is now dented, up from 8% a week ago and mirroring the prior five-year average.

Soybean quality faced an even bigger drop after eroding three points lower this past week. Analysts had expected to see ratings stabilize with 60% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition; USDA’s latest move puts the crop at 57% G/E. Another 28% is rated fair (up a point from last week), with the remaining 15% rated poor or very poor (up two points from a week ago).

Physiologically, 94% of the crop is now blooming, up from 91% a week ago and identical to the prior five-year average. And 81% of the crop is now setting pods, versus 72% a week ago and the prior five-year average of 79%.

Spring wheat quality ratings remain terrible, with 11% rated in good-to-excellent condition. Another 26% is rated fair (down two points from last week), and the remaining 63% rated poor or very poor (up two points from a week ago). Harvest is progressing much more quickly than it has in recent years, with 58% progress through Sunday. Compare that to the prior five-year average of 36%.

USDA is no longer marking harvest progress for the 2020/21 winter wheat crop, which is virtually complete by now.

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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