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USDA crop progress: Soybean quality slips

Corn quality holds (mostly) steady last week

Ahead of Monday afternoon’s crop progress report, analysts expected USDA to dock the corn and soybean crops a point each for the week ending September 15. The agency complied with soybean quality ratings but held corn ratings mostly steady this past week.

Corn’s overall quality stayed at 55% rated good-to-excellent, but the breakdown of those ratings shifted slightly, moving from 45% rated good and 10% rated excellent a week ago to 44% rated good and 11% rated excellent this past week. Another 31% of the crop is rated fair, with the remaining 14% rated poor or very poor – all unchanged from a week ago.

State by state, some key production areas continue to show worrisome ratings overall. In Indiana, 28% of the crop is rated poor or very poor, for example. Illinois (19%), Michigan (21%) and Ohio (26%) are also well above the national average as the eastern Corn Belt has struggled relatively more than other parts of the Midwest this spring and summer.

Physiologically, 93% of the crop is now at dough stage, which is still a bit behind 2018’s pace of 99% and the five-year average of 98%. Other maturity stages highlight just how far behind this year’s crop really is, meantime. Just 68% of the crop is dented, versus a five-year average of 87%. Eighteen percent is mature, versus a five-year average of 39%.

Some corn harvest progress was also noted in some southern states this past week, bringing the Beltwide total up to 4%. That’s half of 2018’s pace of 8% and nearly half of the five-year average of 7%.

With soybeans, crop quality fell a point – in line with analyst expectations – to 54% in good-to-excellent condition. Another 32% of the crop is rated fair (down a point from a week ago), with the remaining 14% rated poor or very poor (up two points from last week).

Physiologically, 95% of the crop is setting pods. That’s up from 92% a week ago, but in a typical year, the entire crop has reached that maturity stage by mid-September. And just 15% are dropping leaves, versus 2018’s pace of 50% and the five-year average of 38%.

Spring wheat harvest is progressing slower than analyst estimates, reaching just 76% last week. That’s up from 71% a week ago but still well behind 2018’s pace of 96% and the five-year average of 93%.

And winter wheat planting progress has reached 8%, starting off sluggishly compared to 2018’s pace and the five-year average, both at 12%.

Click here for a look at other crop progress updates of note from USDA, including for cotton, peanuts, rice, sorghum and oats.

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