Combines are rolling ahead of schedule across the Upper Midwest as the 2012 corn crop reaches maturity thanks to a heat, and drought-shortened season. The latest crop progress figures show that corn is stuck at 23% good to excellent, and 51% poor to very poor (the same as last week). The latest USDA numbers show that 4% of the crop has been harvested, which is well ahead of the five-year average.
In addition, 17% of the crop has been listed as "mature" in the report, a jump of seven percentage points ahead of last week and well ahead of the 4% usually hit at this time of year. Those heat units piled up fast. About 60% of the crop is rated as dented, ahead of a 29% usually achieved by this time of year according to the five-year average.
Soybeans: Thanks to some later season rains, the overall crop condition for soybeans rose to 31% good to excellent, from 30% last week. It's a small increase in quality that may or may not play out in the bin at harvest. The report shows that 4% of the soybean crop is dropping leaves and that 91% of the crop is setting pods. Whether these later rains and cooler weather across the Upper Midwest will impact yield remains to be seen. USDA has already cut the soybean crop estimate drastically in its Aug. 10 report.
Spring Wheat: The spring wheat harvest is well ahead of schedule with 79% of the crop already in versus 40% for the average. The spring wheat crop has yielded well, but farmers are waiting for recharging rains to determine cropping strategies going forward. The same is true in winter wheat country where dry ground greeted combines during harvest. Recharging the soil, and providing enough moisture to get a crop to germinate are key issues going forward.
Cotton: Cotton condition slipped a bit across the belt, but remained at 41% good to excellent with just 30% rated poor to very poor. That's a one percentage point drop in top ratings from last week.
Pasture and Rangeland: While the numbers aren't great, pasture and rangeland condition held steady as well. The cooler temperatures lately may be keeping what's there in shape. Yet 59% of these acres is still rated poor to very poor in this latest report.