With a quiet end to the meteorological summer USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says the condition of the corn and soybean crops hasn't changed much in the last week. But he says the crops are definitely progressing.
"The percentage of the corn that has now dented is 73%," Rippey said. "The five-year average is only 55%, last year only 30%."
Eight percent of the soybean crop is dropping leaves. Rippey says that's about average for this time of year.
As for conditions Rippey says 70% of the corn crop is rated in good to excellent shape and 64% of the soybean crop is rated good to excellent. While that is steady from the previous week Rippey says that is off five points from a year ago, which he says is being driven by deterioration in the south and eastern part of the Soybean Belt.
There are five southern states where the summer was very hot and at least 20% of the beans are rated in poor to very poor condition.
Rippey says there's a similar story in cotton. While it appears cotton producers will harvest a better crop this year than last, the crop's condition is sliding just a bit.
"Sixty percent good to excellent, a week ago it was 62%, a year ago it was only 51% at this time," Rippey said. "We do have four states that have very poor to poor ratings of at least 25% of the crop and those are Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Virginia."
Twenty-nine percent of the nation's cotton bolls are now open, six points ahead of the five-year average. Rippey says that does mean some vulnerability to storms like hurricane Earl.
"Every fall we look at the cotton bolls open number to see what's vulnerable if we do get a hurricane or a tropical storm," Rippey said. "In this case we continue to keep an eye on Hurricane Earl. At this time it looks like the storm will remain offshore on Thursday and Friday, but pass very close to the East Coast. So cotton that is now almost half open, 43% in North Carolina, would be one place where we would be looking for vulnerability."
But Rippey says it does look like the eye of the storm will not make landfall.
A quick note on spring wheat, Rippey says harvest is now at 69% complete, just behind the five-year average of 75%, but well ahead of last year's 36% at this time.