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USDA crop progress: Snow problems for corn, soybean harvest?

Janet Kubat Willette Beans in snow Oct. 14, 2018, near Claremont, Minn.
Farmers move forward despite an early round of winter weather.

Snow is currently covering large swaths of the Midwest and Plains, but the 2018 corn and soybean harvests march onward, according to the latest USDA crop progress report, out Tuesday afternoon.

For the week ending November 11, corn harvest reached 84% completion, up from 76% the week prior but behind analyst expectations of 87%. This year’s progress remains slightly ahead of 2017’s pace of 81% but slightly behind the five-year average of 87%.

On a state-by-state basis, corn harvest is at least 90% complete in six of the top 18 production states, including Illinois (96%), Kentucky (94%), Missouri (94%), North Carolina (99%), Tennessee (99%) and Texas (94%). States with the furthest progress yet to go include Michigan (67%), North Dakota (62%), Pennsylvania (69%) and Wisconsin (69%).

Soybean harvest progress reached 88% completion last week, up from 83% the prior week and behind analyst expectations of 91%. Progress also remains behind 2017’s pace and the five-year average, both at 93%.

On a state-by-state basis, eight of the top 18 production states are at least 90% finished with harvest, with Kentucky (72%), Missouri (70%) and Tennessee (72%) with the furthest progress yet to go.

The 2018/19 U.S. winter wheat crop is now 89% planted and 77% emerged, according to USDA – up from 84% and 70% (respectively) the week prior, but still dragging behind 2017’s pace and the five-year average, both at 94%. Analysts had expected the agency to report planting progress of 90%. 

Analysts also anticipated USDA would not change its winter wheat quality ratings of 51% rated good-to-excellent from the week prior, but the agency bumped up the crop’s quality to 54% in good-to-excellent condition. Those changes didn’t add up to big potential yield improvements, however, notes Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr.

“Winter wheat conditions were mixed this week, leaving yield potential only slightly higher according to our models,” he says. “Gains in states growing white and hard red winter wheat were offset by losses in soft red winter wheat areas east of the Mississippi River, including a big drop of 5 bushels per acre in Illinois. While national ratings translate into an increase in production of around two-tenths of a bushel per acre, the state-by-state model of yield potential was unchanged.”

Yield potential nationwide ranged from 47.4 bushels per acre to 50.6 bpa, Knorr says.

Other crop progress of note includes:

  • Sugarbeet harvest reached 96%, up from 91% the week prior.
  • Sorghum harvest reached 73%, up from 64% the week prior.
  • Cotton harvest reached 54%, up from 49% the week prior.
  • Peanut harvest reached 81%, up from 75% the week prior.
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