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Ripening corn Mailson Pignata/ThinkstockPhotos

USDA crop progress: Corn quality is still eroding

Soybean quality ratings also move lower for the week ending September 6.

Corn and soybean crop quality has been steadily moving lower over the past several weeks, and USDA’s latest batch of crop progress data, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through September 6, shows that trend unfolding once again.

Corn quality fell another point to land at 61% rated in good-to-excellent condition, matching analyst expectations. Another 25% is rated fair (up one point from last week), with the remaining 14% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from last week). Drought-hit Colorado and Iowa (which was also slammed with violent storms in mid-August) have the highest percentage of corn rated poor or very poor, with 39% and 26%, respectively, falling into that category.

Physiologically, the crop is inching closer to harvest. Ninety-seven percent is now at dough stage, up slightly from the prior five-year average of 94%. Seventy-nine percent is now dented, which is moderately ahead of the prior five-year average of 71%. And one-quarter of the crop is now fully mature, up from last week’s mark of 12% and above the prior five-year average of 19%.

Analysts anticipated a two-point drop in soybean quality ratings, but USDA’s latest data only confirmed a one-point drop, with 65% now rated in good-to-excellent condition. Another 25% of the crop is rated fair (up one point from last week), with the remaining 10% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from a week ago). Kentucky (86%), Wisconsin (81%) and Minnesota (79%) have the best overall good-to-excellent ratings so far.

Twenty percent of the crop is now dropping leaves, up from 8% a week ago. That’s well above 2019’s pace of 7% and still moderately ahead of the prior five-year average of 16%.

This year’s sorghum harvest has kicked off in earnest, with Texas leading the way at 73%. Nationwide, 21% of the crop has been harvested, which is mostly in line with 2019’s pace of 22% and the prior five-year average of 23%. Quality-wise, 49% of the crop is rated in good-to-excellent condition, losing a point last week and far from matching last year’s crop, which was 68% rated in good-to-excellent condition through the first week of September.

The spring wheat harvest is even farther along, moving from 69% complete a week ago up to 82% complete through Sunday. That’s well ahead of 2019’s pace of 66% but slightly behind the prior five-year average of 87%.

Planting season has already begun for the 2020/21 winter wheat crop, meantime, with a nationwide average of 5%, which is swifter than 2019’s pace of 1% and the prior five-year average of 3%. Washington (32%) and Colorado (17%) have made the most progress among the top 18 production states so far.

Click here for updates on additional crops, including cotton, barley, pasture and range conditions, and more.

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