USDA concluded a busy day Monday with its latest batch of crop progress data, out this afternoon, by holding its corn and soybean quality ratings mostly steady from a week ago.
“USDA’s crop progress report Monday afternoon confirmed yield estimates the agency used in its controversial August production report out earlier in the day,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “Yields, of course, weren’t the controversial part of that report, with questions lingering over how farmers could plant more corn than last year and still increase prevent plant filings to a record 11.2 million bushels.”
For the week ending August 11, USDA marked 57% of the U.S. corn crop in good-to-excellent condition, with another 30% rated poor and the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor. All categories were unchanged from a week ago.
“Although the nationwide rating for corn was unchanged this week, state-by-state changes dropped the equivalent of six-tenths of a bushel,” Knorr says. “That dropped our yield estimate to an average of 169.4 bushels per acre, just a tenth of a bushel off USDA’s forecast today, with the two models we run at 168.5 and 170.2 bpa. Most of the central Corn Belt saw lower ratings.”
This year’s late-planted corn crop continues to develop more slowly that prior years, meantime. By now, 90% of the crop is silking, up from last week’s tally of 78% but behind 2018’s pace of 96% and the five-year average of 97%. And 39% of the crop has made it to dough stage – up from 23% a week ago but far behind 2018’s pace of 71% and the five-year average of 61%.
USDA also has 7% of the crop reaching dented stage, versus 2018’s pace of 24% and a five-year average of 16%.
Soybean crop quality also held mostly steady this past week, with 54% of the crop rated good-to-excellent. (But the percentage split moved from 45/9 to 45/8.) Another 33% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 13% rated poor or very poor – all unchanged from a week ago.
“Soybeans showed a more modest decline, with both the national and state models slipping the equivalent of a tenth a of bushel per acre,” Knorr says. “Yield projections ranged from 49.5 to 50.3 bpa with the average at 49.9, 1.4 bushels above UDSA’s forecast earlier in the day. One suspects that with crop development delayed, USDA just stuck to the estimate it used in July while waiting to see how weather plays out. Most states except the fringes of the Midwest saw declines this week.”
Speaking of delayed development, 82% of this year’s soybean crop is now setting pods, versus 95% last year and a five-year average of 93%. And 54% of the crop is setting pods, versus 83% a year ago and a five-year average of 76%.
For wheat, harvest is wrapping up for winter wheat and just kicking off for spring wheat. Winter wheat harvest reached 89% completion this past week, which is a touch slower than 2018’s pace of 93% and the five-year average of 96%. Spring wheat progress reached 8%, versus last year’s pace of 32% and a five-year average of 30%. Harvest for both crops is progressing slower than earlier analyst estimates of 90% and 11%, respectively.