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USDA: Corn ratings up slightly as harvest begins to move along

Agriculture.com Staff 09/10/2007 @ 2:25pm

The number of U.S. corn acres in good-to-excellent condition rose two percent in the last week as harvest moved well ahead of normal for this time of the year, according to this week's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report released Monday afternoon. Sixty-one percent of the nation's corn is rated good-to-excellent as of Sunday compared to 59% a week ago.

As of Sunday, eight percent of the U.S. corn crop has been harvested, compared to five percent a week ago and ahead of the five-percent progress level from the same week a year ago.

Harvest progress is most advanced in Tennessee, Texas and North Carolina, where 73%, 65% and 47% of the corn is out of the field, respectively. The Tennessee harvest progress -- more than twice the normal pace -- is aided by the state's poor overall crop ratings; 58% of the state's corn is rated in very poor to poor condition compared to 12% in good-to-excellent condition.

Early corn yield guesses are all over the boards, according to farmer-members of the Marketing Talk section of Agriculture Online. While growers in some parts of Illinois will be facing substantial yield losses due to drought, crop conditions are good in other parts of the state, and once more farmers in the area begin harvest, the numbers will reflect this, according to Marketing Talk member 67guy.

"Some of the yields from these areas are going to blow your mind," 67guy writes. "I've seen it first-hand already. We are already starting to hear reports of 200- to 225-bushel corn in eastern Illinois, which was quite dry.

"The bottom line is I'm afraid everyone is going to be shocked at yields coming out of Iowa, Illinois and parts of Nebraska...What happens in the next couple of months could be shocking."

Soybean conditions were unchanged from a week ago, according to Monday's report, with 56% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition. The crop's development continues ahead of the normal pace, as 32% of the crop is dropping leaves as of Sunday, compared to the 25% average pace.

The crop's early development isn't the best news to Marketing Talk member lucky2. Combined with an already underpriced market, lucky2 says a smaller-than-expected soybean crop could mean a big market swing in coming weeks.

"My main concern is the beans. I think they'll be much below average. I would think they are underpriced," lucky2 says.

Fellow Marketing Talk member white pine acres agrees, and says such a move in the marketplace will dictate how acres are planted in 2008.

"I think they will find more acres of corn and higher yields. Soy acres and yields will decline," white pine acres says. "Everyone who planted more corn will plant more beans and wheat next year."

In other crops, winter wheat planting started in the last week, and six percent of the crop is planted as of Sunday compared to eight percent a year ago and the previous five-year average of 10%. Cotton harvest also started this last week, with four percent of the crop out of the field. This is also lagging from average, as nine percent was harvested as of this week a year ago. Sorghum maturation and harvest, as well as rice harvest, are slightly ahead of the normal pace, according to Monday's report.

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