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USDA crop progress: Corn and soybean quality move higher

Agency reports improving crop conditions over the third week of August

Analysts anticipated USDA would show higher corn and soybean quality ratings for its latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon. And the agency met those expectations after moving corn a point higher and soybeans two points higher for the week ending August 25.

This year’s corn crop is now rated 57% in good-to-excellent condition per USDA, up from 56% a week ago. Another 30% of the crop is rated fair (unchanged from a week ago), with the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor (down a point from last week).

“Corn yields based on ratings rose around three-quarters of a bushel to 169.4 bushels per acre, just one-tenth of a bushel lower than USDA’s Aug. 12 estimate,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “The range between the two models was 168.6 to 170.2 bpa. Losses in the eastern Corn Belt, especially another big drop in drought-hit North Carolina, were more than offset by gains in much of the western Midwest, including a 4.2 bpa jump in Illinois.”


The crop remains well behind average physiologically after a historically sluggish planting pace, meantime. Last week, 71% of the crop reached dough stage, which was up from the prior week’s tally of 55% but significantly slower than 2018’s pace of 91% and the five-year average of 87%.

And 27% of the crop is now dented, compared to 15% a week ago. Last year’s pace at the end of August was 59%, with a five-year average of 46%.


Soybean quality ratings improved more than anticipated, moving from 53% in good-to-excellent condition as of August 18 up to 55%. Another 32% of the crop is rated fair (down a point from a week ago), with the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor (also down a point from last week).

“Soybean yield potential rose to an average of 50.2 bpa, 1.7 bpa above USDA’s forecast,” Knorr says. “Northern and eastern states mostly declined, with gains elsewhere, with the two models ranging from 49.8 to 50.6 bpa.”



Spring wheat crop conditions slipped a point lower, in contrast, with 69% of the crop now rated good-to-excellent. Another 25% of the crop is rated fair (up two points from a week ago), with the remaining 6% rated poor or very poor (down a point from last week).

“Spring wheat conditions went in the other direction, with rain that slowed harvest hurting conditions this week,” Knorr says. “Average yield potential slipped around a third of a bushel to 50.4 bpa, in a range from 49.6 to 51.2 bpa. USDA estimated spring yields Aug. 12 at 49.2 bpa.”

This year’s spring wheat harvest took a big leap forward, meantime, moving from 16% as of August 18 up to 38%, far exceeding trade guesses. The pace is still well behind 2018’s mark of 75% and the five-year average of 65%.



The winter wheat harvest continues to wind down, reaching 96% last week. Harvest is typically concluded by this time of year, considering 2018’s pace of 100% and the five-year average of 99%.

Click here to review the latest full crop progress data set from USDA.

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