USDA crop progress: The finish line approaches

jenjen42/iStock/Getty Images tractor tilling ground at dusk with dust flying.
Four out of five corn acres now in the ground, with nearly two-thirds of soybeans planted.

Corn and soybean planting progress continued to see some good forward momentum this past week, per USDA’s latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through May 16. But analysts were expecting to see more corn acres in the ground by now. Soybean progress was more in line with trade expectations, meantime.

Corn planting progress reached 80% through Sunday. That’s up from the prior week’s mark of 67% but four points lower than the average trade guess of 84%. Still, 2021 progress is two points ahead of 2020’s pace of 78% and well above the prior five-year average of 68%. Each of the top 18 production states have at least made it to the halfway mark, except for Ohio (39%).

Corn emergence jumped from 20% a week ago up to 41% through Sunday. That’s slightly ahead of last year’s pace of 40% and moderately faster than the prior five-year average of 35%. Variance among the top 18 production states is still significant – North Dakota is only at 10% so far, with North Carolina all the way to 86%.

Related: Fast planting boosts crop production potential.

Soybean plantings are progressing slightly faster than expected, meantime. Progress reached 61% through Sunday, versus the average trade guess of 60% and the prior week’s mark of 42%. Planting pace has jumped well ahead of 2020’s pace of 51% and far beyond the prior five-year average of 37%. Minnesota (88%) is now the furthest along among the top 18 production states.

Crop emergence moved from 10% a week ago up to 20% through Sunday. That’s also a faster pace than 2020’s 16% and the prior five-year average of 12%. State-by-state progress ranges between North Dakota’s 1% on up to Mississippi’s 61%.

Spring wheat plantings are now at 85% through Sunday, up from 70% a week ago but one point below the average trade guess of 86%. Last year’s pace was just 57%, with the prior five-year average at 71% through the first two weeks of May. Forty-seven percent of the crop is emerged, versus the prior five-year average of 36%.

For winter wheat, more than half (53%) of the 2020/21 crop is now headed, up from 38% a week ago. That’s a bit below 2020’s pace of 54% and the prior five-year average of 58%.

Quality ratings dipped a point lower, with 48% of the crop now rated in good-to-excellent condition. Analysts were expecting to see a one-point improvement, in contrast. Another 33% is rated fair (unchanged from last week), with the remaining 19% rated poor or very poor (up a point from last week).

Click here to read the latest USDA crop progress report for additional information on cotton, rice, peanuts, sorghum, sunflowers and more.

Follow along with the season:

Be sure to share how your crops are doing at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdf8KQ1LWJqpWZya30gFeIseS7_4ceD1Fpcaj38cejI_WO1xA/viewform and read the latest Feedback from the Field.

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