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USDA crop progress: Winter wheat quality worse than expected

Getty/iStockphoto Field with young Winter Wheat, Dirt Road and a small Maple Tree with autumnal red leaves
Corn and soybean harvests move closer to the finish line.

USDA’s latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through Oct. 24, had a few interesting data points for traders to digest. For starters, the agency’s first assessment of 2021/22 winter wheat crop quality was well below analyst estimates, with planting pace also slightly down from the average trade guess. For corn and soybeans, harvest continues moving at a healthy clip, as farmers were able to get another 13-14% of the total crop out of the field this past week.

Winter wheat plantings reached 80% through Sunday. That’s up from 70% a week ago and identical to the prior five-year average. And 55% of the crop is now emerged, up from 44% a week ago but behind the prior five-year average of 59%.

Analysts significantly missed the mark on crop quality, with USDA reporting 46% rated in good-to-excellent condition in its first assessment of the season. The average trade guess was much higher, at 54%. Another 34% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 20% rated poor or very poor.

The 2021 corn harvest moved from 52% a week ago up to 66% through Oct. 24. Analysts had expected USDA to report progress of 65%. Harvest pace remains very swift compared to recent years – the prior five-year average is 53%.

This year’s soybean harvest also maintained solid forward momentum, moving from 60% last week up to 73% through Sunday. That’s well behind 2020’s pace of 82% but still moderately ahead of the prior five-year average of 70%.

Other row crop harvests around the country are also making headway, including:

  • Cotton at 35% (up from 28% a week ago)
  • Sorghum at 71% (up from 59% a week ago)
  • Peanuts at 51% (up from 38% a week ago)
  • Sugarbeets at 64% (up from 40% a week ago)
  • Rice at 95% (up from 92% a week ago)

Click here to read today’s USDA crop progress report for information on additional crops, plus a look at the latest pasture and range conditions.

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