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Green corn not yet tasseled. venturecx/Thinkstock

USDA crop progress: Corn quality steady, soybean slips

Corn stays at 68% good-to-excellent, with soybean dropping one point to 67%.

For the week ending Sept. 16, USDA has elected to keep corn quality steady, while docking soybean quality by a point, as harvest progress begins to accelerate for both crops.

Largely in line with analyst expectations, USDA kept 68% of the 2018 U.S. corn crop rated good-to-excellent, with another 20% of the crop rated fair and the remaining 12% rated poor or very poor. None of those figures shifted from the week prior.

Even so, some significant regional shifts occurred last week – particularly with the presence of Hurricane Florence moving through the Mid-Atlantic, notes Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr.

“The impact in corn so far in North Carolina amounts to a loss of nearly six bushels per acre of yield potential, with soybeans losing almost two bpa in the state,” he says. “Coupled with a pullback in conditions noted in last week’s Vegetation Health Index maps, it suggests yield estimates from USDA may have peaked for the season.”

Broader yield losses aren’t nearly as severe, Knorr adds.

“The drop in ratings amounted to around 0.15 of a bushel nationwide for soybeans, but just 0.06 of a bushel for corn,” he says.

Physiologically, corn’s progress remains ahead of recent averages, with 93% of the crop now dented versus 84% a year ago and a five-year average of 86%. And 54% of the crop has reached maturity, versus 32% at the same time in 2017 and a five-year average of 36%.

Harvest progress is slim but definitely started, having reached 9% completion by Sept. 16. That’s compared to the prior week’s progress of 5%, last year’s pace of 7% and a five-year average of 6%.

USDA docked soybean quality by a point this past week, moving the crop from rated 68% good-to-excellent to 67%. Another 23% of the crop is rated fair (up a point from the prior week), with the remaining 10% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from the prior week).

A total of 53% of this year’s crop is dropping leaves, up from 31% the prior week, and well ahead of last year’s pace of 38% and a five-year average of 36%.

Soybean harvest has reached 6%, which is also ahead of 2017’s pace of 4% and a five-year average of 6%. Three states (Louisiana, Mississippi and North Dakota) have made double-digit progress so far, with USDA only reporting zero measurable progress from two of the top 18 production states (Kansas and Michigan).

Spring wheat harvest edges closer to completion, passing the 97% mark last week. That pace is in line with 2017’s pace of 98% and a bit ahead of the five-year average of 92%. Each of the top six production states have made harvest progress totaling at least 94% at this time.

And winter wheat planting progress continues, moving from the prior week’s progress of 5% up to 13% complete – quite in line with 2017’s pace of 12% and a five-year average of 14%.

Cotton’s harvest pace of 13% is slightly ahead of 2017’s pace of 11% and moderately ahead of the five-year average of 6%.

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