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Serving: United States
Soybean field in southeast Minnesota on Sept. 30, 2019 Janet Kubat Willette

USDA crop progress: Corn, soybean harvests start slowly

Crops that started historically late also arriving at the finish line late

With a wet, cool spring that featured an abundance of late-planted crops, it’s perhaps no surprise that the 2019 harvest is also off to a sluggish start.

Corn harvest reached 11% completion as of September 29, per the latest USDA crop progress report, out Monday afternoon. That’s a step forward from the prior week’s pace of 7% but lags well behind 2018’s pace of 25% and the five-year average of 19%.

A trio of southern states – Texas (72%), Tennessee (74%) and North Carolina (87%) – are actually much closer to the finish line at this point. But the national average is hampered by single digit progress in some key production states that include Illinois (4%), Indiana (8%) and Iowa (2%).

Fields that have yet to be harvested are still nearing that phase of the season, however. USDA marked 88% of the crop as dented, with 43% now fully mature. Both maturity phases remain well behind the prior five-year averages of 98% and 73%, respectively.

From a quality standpoint, little was changed. USDA rated 57% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition (unchanged from last week), with 29% rated fair (down a point from last week) and the remaining 14% rated poor or very poor (up a point from last week).

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“Crop ratings out Monday showed only minor changes with no clear trend for changes,” says Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “While the U.S. rating dropped, our state-by-state analysis showed a small increase, with the average of the two losing around four-tenths of a bushel per acre. The average yield forecast based on the ratings is 169.25 bushels per acre in a range from 168.8 to 169.7 bpa. The three I states posted declines along with northern tier states except Wisconsin.”

These estimates are running stronger than USDA’s monthly production estimates, which will be updated late next week, Knorr adds.

“Development remains behind normal, with only 15% of corn dented in North Dakota, where forecast models today turned colder again for later next week, also raising frost threat levels from South Dakota to Wisconsin,” he says. “But these models have been flipping back and forth the last couple of days and have yet to be confirmed by the more reliable European model.”

The 2019 soybean harvest also kicked off this past week, with 7% now complete. That’s well behind 2018’s pace of 22% and the five-year average of 20%. Only 55% of the crop is even dropping leaves, compared to the prior five-year average of 76%.

“Any freeze could also affect soybeans, though 86% of fields in North Dakota were dropping leaves,” Knorr says.

Quality-wise, 55% of the soybean crop is now rated in good-to-excellent condition, up a point from last week. Another 32% is rated fair (down a point from last week), with the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from a week ago).

All told, soybeans saw very small changes in yield potential this past week, with the average of our two models at 50 bpa, in a narrow range from 49.5 to 50.6 bpa.

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Spring wheat harvest reached 90% last week, which was higher than analyst estimates, but 99% to 100% of the crop is typically harvested by the end of September. Winter wheat planting is more in line with the pace of recent years after reaching 39% last week. The prior five-year average is 38%.

“USDA’s updated production estimate showed slightly higher spring wheat production, despite more delays to harvest after heavy storms last week that included snow in Montana,” Knorr says.

Click here to read USDA’s latest crop progress report, with additional updates on sorghum, oats and southern row crops.

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