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Rows of corn stretching as far as the eye can see. A single lone tassel sticking up. Focus is fairly shallow with main point on the tassel. txking/iStock/GettyImages

USDA crop progress: Corn quality stabilizes

Soybean conditions move a point higher, bucking analyst estimates.

The most recent weekly progress report from USDA, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through July 19, had a bevy of data to dig through, including corn and soybean quality, winter wheat harvest progress and more. The agency’s numbers didn’t always line up with trade guesses released earlier today, however.

Corn quality held steady, with 69% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition. Analysts were expecting USDA to dock crop quality another point this past week, in contrast. Another 23% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 8% rated poor or very poor – all unchanged from a week ago.

The “I States” tell the tale of how crop quality has varied widely this year, even among neighboring states. Iowa has consistently turned in quality ratings that are higher than the nationwide average this year, with 80% of its crop rated good-to-excellent. Illinois ratings are just below the nationwide average, with 63% rated good-to-excellent, and Indiana is lower still, at 59% rated good-to-excellent.

Physiologically, 59% of the crop is now silking, up from 29% a week ago. That’s also highly favorable compared to 2019 (30%) and moderately ahead of the prior five-year average (54%). And 9% of the crop has reached the dough stage, versus 2019’s pace of 4% and the prior five-year average of 7%.

Analysts also thought USDA would dock soybean quality a point this week, with 67% rated in good-to-excellent condition. But the agency instead added a point, making 69% of the crop rated good-to-excellent. Another 24% of the crop is rated fair (down a point from last week), with the remaining 7% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from last week).

Nearly two-thirds of this year’s crop (64%) is now blooming, up from 48% a week ago. Last year’s pace was just 35%, with a prior five-year average of 57%. And 25% of the crop is now setting pods, up from 11% a week ago, and favorable to both 2019’s pace (6%) and the prior five-year average (21%).

Winter wheat harvest progress is still progressing more slowly than anticipated, with 74% of the 2019/20 crop now complete compared to the prior week’s tally of 68%. This year’s pace is favorable to 2019’s pace of 66% and right in line with the five-year average of 75%.

For spring wheat, 91% of the crop is now headed, versus 80% last week. This year’s crop is maturing slightly faster than 2019’s pace of 88% but slightly slower than the five-year average of 94%. Quality ratings firmed, with 68% rated good-to-excellent (unchanged overall from last week, but with the split moving from 57/11 to 55/13), 25% rated fair (up a point from last week) and 7% rated poor (down a point from last week).

Click here to read the latest USDA crop progress report in its entirety for additional data on sorghum, cotton, rice, barley, pasture conditions and more.

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