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U.S. wheat ratings improve; corn seeding lags at 22% complete -USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture rated 29% of the U.S. winter wheat crop in good to excellent condition, up 2 percentage points from the previous week and a bigger improvement than most analysts had expected, but still among the lowest ratings on record for this point in the year.

Fourteen analysts surveyed by Reuters on average had expected the government to rate 28% of the crop as good to excellent, with estimates ranging from 26% to 32%.

Despite the improvement, good-to-excellent ratings for winter wheat in the 18th week of the calendar year have been below 30% only two other times in USDA records dating to the late 1980s, reaching 26% in 1996 and 20% in 1989.

Tight world wheat supplies and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both major wheat exporters, have magnified the significance of the U.S. crop’s potential. As of May 3, about 69% of U.S. winter wheat was in an area experiencing drought, the government said in a separate report.

In the Midwest, excessive rains have slowed corn and soybean planting. The USDA said the U.S. corn crop was 22% seeded as of Sunday, lagging the average analyst estimate of 25% and well behind the five-year average of 50%.

U.S. soybean planting was 12% complete, behind the average analyst estimate of 16% and the five-year average of 24%.

Iowa and Illinois, the top two producers of corn and soybeans, respectively had 1.8 and 1.7 days last week considered suitable for fieldwork, the USDA said.

The U.S. spring wheat crop was 27% planted, the USDA said, behind the average analyst estimate of 28% and the five-year average of 47%.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Alexander Smith and Richard Pullin)

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