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Corn still uneven from wet spring but warm, dry week may help -Braun

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rated an above-average 75% of the U.S. corn crop as good-to-excellent, though the U.S. Crop Watch corn condition scores are below their recent average, and those held up this past week.

Crop Watch soybean conditions are above the date’s recent average and improved on the week due to favorable weather. The last few days were dry for most of the Corn Belt, helping with crop development, particularly for corn.

A warm and dry week is on tap for most of the Corn Belt, which should be helpful for most of the Crop Watch fields. Many of the fields could use a shot of rain, especially those in the east, but producers report that a bone-dry week would not be detrimental just yet.

Crop Watch producers assign weekly condition scores to their corn and soybean fields using a scale of 1 to 5. The ratings are similar to USDA’s system where 1 is very poor, 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

However, the Crop Watch condition scores, unlike USDA’s, are more of a visual assessment and do not incorporate yield assumptions. Yield ratings will come later in the season.

The unweighted, 11-field average corn condition slipped slightly to 3.66 from 3.68 in the prior week as improvements in both Iowa locations were offset by a 1-point drop in North Dakota, where the corn was battered by wind and rain, and growth was held back by cool nighttime temperatures.

Corn conditions averaged 3.93 this week last year and about 4.1 in 2021. A nine-field average this week in 2022 was 4.81, but the addition of the two remaining fields the next week dropped that to 4.25. Uneven emergence from the saturated spring is producers’ most common issue this year.

The 10-field soybean condition rose to 4.1 from 3.98 last week as improvements in eastern Iowa and Nebraska offset a small decline in western Iowa, where slugs have been eating plants. North Dakota conditions are not yet available.

The same 10 soybean fields averaged 3.93 a year ago, 3.73 in 2022 and close to 4.4 in 2021. Five soy fields currently hold condition scores of 4.5 or higher compared with four fields at this point in 2021.

Crop Watch areas that were not dry last week include Kansas, which received a much-needed 3 inches of rain. The rain was less welcome in Minnesota and North Dakota, where 1.6 inches and up to 2 inches, respectively, fell last week. Planting is incomplete in both locations, and the persistent rain around the east-central North Dakota fields could prevent some planting entirely.


USDA on Monday afternoon will publish its first condition scores for soybeans. The Crop Watch corn conditions suggest possible downside to USDA’s corn ratings, and the Crop Watch soybean scores are currently better than those for corn.

But it is uncommon for USDA’s initial soybean rating to be below its initial one for corn. That happened only five times in the last 20 years, and the initial corn score was no higher than 67% good-to-excellent (GE) in all five instances.

The best soybean conditions for this same week were 74% GE, occurring in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Dryness this week a year ago held conditions to 59% GE. Over the past decade, initial soybean conditions, which do not always fall in the same week due to emergence differences, averaged 68% GE.

U.S. corn was 74% emerged last week when USDA set starting conditions at 75% GE, a near-average emergence pace. Soybeans were 55% emerged last week, ahead of the five-year average of 52%.

Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.
Source: Reuters (Writing by Karen Braun, Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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