Storms last week brought hurricane-force winds through the Midwest in an unusual system called a “derecho,” and analysts expected crop quality to take a spill because of it. USDA delivered on those expectations Monday afternoon when it released its latest crop progress report, covering the week through August 16.
Corn quality saw a two-point decline, with 69% of the crop now rated in good-to-excellent condition. Analysts were expecting a three-point drop, however. Another 21% of the crop is rated fair (unchanged from a week ago), with the remaining 10% rated poor or very poor (up two points from last week). States hit hardest by the storms naturally saw the biggest declines – Iowa, for example, tumbled ten points lower to land at 59% in good-to-excellent condition.
Physiologically, the crop is maturing much faster than it did a year ago. Seventy-six percent of the crop has made it to dough stage, versus 50% in 2019 and the prior five-year average of 69%. And 23% of the crop is dented, more than doubling last week’s pace of 11%. The same time a week ago, 13% of the crop was dented, with a prior five-year average of 24%.
Soybean crop quality also saw a two-point drop last week, matching analyst expectations. Through Sunday, 72% of the crop is now rated in good-to-excellent condition. Another 21% is rated fair (unchanged from last week), with the remaining 7% rated poor or very poor (up two points from last week). Again, using Iowa as an example, the state’s crop ratings moved from 70% in good-to-excellent condition a week ago down to 62%.
Nationwide, nearly all (96%) of this year’s soybean crop is now blooming, which is a bit ahead of the prior five-year average of 94%. And 84% of the crop is setting pods, which is well above 2019’s pace of 64% and moderately faster than the prior five-year average of 79%.
Analysts also expected spring wheat crop quality to drop a point, but USDA found improving conditions, with 70% of the crop now rated in good-to-excellent condition compared to 69% a week ago. Another 24% of the crop is rated fair (unchanged from last week), with the remaining 6% rated poor or very poor (down a point from last week). Harvest pace doubled, from 15% to 30% last week – staying well behind the prior five-year average of 43%.
Winter wheat harvest inches toward completion, meantime, moving from 90% a week ago up to 93% through Sunday. That’s a little faster than 2019’s pace of 92% but behind the prior five-year average of 96%.
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