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Serving: United States
WHEAT HARVEST is a favorite time of year When the wheat is good the heads are full and the stalks standing well combines keep grain carts and semitrailer crews hustling to keep up

USDA crop progress: Corn quality slips, soybeans steady

The agency’s latest report also marked progress for winter wheat harvest

For the week ending July 21, analysts expected USDA to hold its corn and soybean crop quality ratings steady in its latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon. That anticipated outcome only held true for soybeans, however.

USDA docked corn crop quality a point, moving it down to 57% in good-to-excellent condition. Some of the best production states so far this year include Tennessee (85%), Colorado (78%), and North Dakota (77%). States on the low end of the spectrum include Missouri (33%), Indiana (35%) and Ohio (35%).

Physiologically, 35% of the crop is silking, which is significantly behind 2018’s pace of 78% and the five-year average of 66%. And 5% of the crop has reached dough stage, versus 2018’s pace of 16% and the five-year average of 10%.

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Even so, last week’s heat wave showed limited impact on yield potential, according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr.

“Corn suffered the most, not surprising since roughly a third of the nation’s fields are pollinating,” he says. “Yet ratings improved or stayed mostly steady in areas with the hottest temperatures, with yield potential in Iowa gaining 2.1 bushels per acre. That helped our estimate based on state-by-state ratings hold steady at 168.9 bpa, though the nationwide condition reported by USDA suggests a drop of nine-tenths of a bushel to 170.2 bpa.”

USDA held soybean quality ratings stead, with 54% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition, another 34% rated fair, and the remaining 12% rated poor or very poor – all unchanged from a week ago.

Physiologically, 40% of the soybean crop is blooming, which was a marked improvement over the prior week’s tally of 22% but still well behind 2018’s pace of 76% and the five-year average of 66%. And just 7% of the crop is setting pods, versus 2018’s pace of 41% and the five-year average of 28%.

“Soybeans appeared to take last week’s heat a little better, with losses noted in areas that received heavy rains from Hurricane Barry like parts of the Delta and Ohio River Valley,” Knorr says. “Our estimate of yield based on the national rating was steady at 50.4 bpa, and the state-by-state reading actually improved a tenth of a bushel to 49.6 bpa thanks to be good yield bump in Illinois.”

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Winter wheat harvest progressed slower than expected last week, reaching 69%. That’s up from the prior week’s tally of 57% but below the average trade guess of 73%. Last year’s harvest was 79% by this time, as was the prior five-year average.

For spring wheat, crop quality shifted somewhat. Although the total percent of the crop rated good to excellent remained steady, at 66%, the split changed from 66/10 to 63/13. Another 20% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 4% rated poor, unchanged from a week ago.

“Improvement in the North Dakota spring wheat crop helped boost production on the northern Plains,” Knorr says. “State-by-state yield projections added a tenth of a bushel per acre to 51.2 with USDA’s nationwide ratings boost suggested a three-tenths of a bushel gain to 52.2 bpa.”

Physiologically, 92% of the crop is headed, which is just behind 2018’s pace of 96% and the five-year average of 94%.

USDA reported that most states in the central U.S. had five or six suitable days of fieldwork last week, with some noticeably lower totals in the rained-out Mid-South, along with the upper Midwest and Plains.

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