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USDA pegs corn, soybean ratings at high end of trade estimates

Agriculture.com Staff 07/09/2007 @ 2:35pm

Corn pollination took off in the last week, rocketing well beyond the average pace for this time of year, according to this week's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report released Monday.

As of Sunday, 32% of the nation's corn was silking, compared to 13% a week ago, 21% a year ago and the 18% previous five-year average. Pollination made the most significant jumps in the Corn Belt: Illinois pollination went from 32% last week to 68% this week; 18% of both the Iowa and Ohio corn crops were pollinating Sunday compared to one percent in both states a week ago; Nebraska saw a 24% jump in silking in the last week, from three percent to 27%.

Overall corn crop conditions declined slightly over the last week as forecast by market analysts ahead of Monday's report: Seventy percent of the crop was rated in good to excellent condition as of Sunday compared to 73% in the same shape a week ago. The 70% good-to-excellent figure marks a seven-percent improvement in overall crop conditions over the same week in 2006.

Illinois corn good-to-excellent rating was up two percent, Missouri up one percent, Tennessee up two percent and Texas up six percent. "Everyone else saw a decline in their corn rating. I'm surprised the overall corn good/excellent rating didn't go down further than three percent," says Jason Ward of North Star Commodities.

Soybean crop ratings took a dip identical to that of the nation's corn crop, according to Monday's NASS report. As of Sunday, 65% of the nation's soybeans are in good to excellent condition compared to 68% a week ago. This figure is also ahead of conditions a year ago, when 58% of the soybean crop was in good to excellent shape.

Soybean development was, just like corn, ahead of schedule in its development: As of Sunday, 40% of the nation's soybeans were blooming, compared to the previous five-year average of 28% and last week's 19%. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio all saw considerable jumps in soybean blooming in the past week.

"I'm shocked the crop rating wasn't worse than reported. But, the good-to-excellent rating did drop three percent, which is at the high end of trade estimates," says Jason Ward of North Star Commodities. "So, this report, barring any change of weather, is friendly to corn and soybean markets."

Because only four states showed improvements in their corn rating, it's surprising the overall rating wasn't worse, Ward said.

Shawn McCambridge, Prudential Bache Commodities LLC, says the lower crop ratings have been built into the market. "It's time to see what happens between now and next week," McCambridge says. "The forecasts have rain in them and that is the focus of the markets, not today's crop report."

Other crop conditions -- including sorghum, spring wheat, cotton, rice and oats -- were at or near their average ratings for this time of the year. Winter wheat harvest continued slowly, but made up ground and neared the average pace. As of Sunday, 58% of the nation's winter wheat was harvested compared to the previous five-year average of 65% but up from 40% a week ago.

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