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Reasons for some optimism in corn and soybean country

Agriculture.com Staff 08/10/2009 @ 6:33pm

Corn and soybean conditions are stabilizing at numbers typical of this time of year, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. And, with the critical soybean development month of August almost one-third complete, that crop's generally seen slightly better than the last few years at this point, USDA numbers show.

Monday's report shows 68% of the nation's corn crop in good to excellent condition, right in line with last week and 1% above a year ago. Soybean conditions, though a percentage point lower than a week ago, are still running 3% above a year ago, with 66% of that crop in good to excellent shape. Though they're encouraging, these condition numbers are accompanied by slower-than-normal development strides, some to the tune of 20% or more behind normal.

The crops are looking pretty good in a lot of areas. That's the good news. The bad news is that tardy development is a growing concern for many farmers, a lot of whom are already hoping for a long fall and a delayed onset of winter. Still, many agree that if conditions are right, a good crop's far from out of the question.

"We need a good second half to the growing season as far as heat, but the potential is out there to surpass our record 2004 yields, and maybe by a good distance, as the corn looks great," says Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member nillsam.

"Illinois will probably vary more than it ever has. There will be some really really bad stuff and some pretty good stuff. Ours will be nowhere near what it was last year but it still has the potential to be good albeit wet," adds Marketing Talk member and Illinois farmer 67guy. "If the Corn Belt, in general, sees a warm second half of August and September is warm, this crop could get bigger than what I think. We'll see."

So, will that weather picture unfold like 67guy says he's hoping it will? According to Charlie Notis, meteorologist with Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa, temperatures should stay on the hot side in the next 10 days to 2 weeks. Even though the warmer temps will be more conducive to the development of severe weather like that in parts of Iowa and Nebraska Sunday, at this point, that's a worthwhile trade if it's not your crops getting flattened by hail.

"In the bigger picture, the benefits of the rain will outweigh the storm damage, so undoubtedly the trade considers the size of the U.S. corn and soybean crops as potentially a little bigger now as compared to a week ago at this time," Notis said Monday. "Temperatures will be warm in the Midwest over the next ten days, but not extraordinarily hot; high temperatures should be no worse than 90 to 95 degrees, and even that will be confined to mainly western and southwestern parts of the region. Things probably will turn a bit on the cool side again for the tail end of the two- week forecast period."

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