USDA: Corn, soybean conditions improve slightly

06/23/2008 @ 2:36pm

Monday's USDA Crop Progress report shows there's no reason to count out the nation's corn and soybean crops just yet.

Despite continued flooding in parts of the Midwest, the condition of the nation's corn and soybean crops is seen improving overall. Monday's report shows a two-percent rise in corn conditions, with 59% of the crop in good-to-excellent condition compared to 57% a week ago. Fifty-seven percent of the soybean crop is in the same high-end shape, compared to 56% last week.

Though no planting or emergence numbers were given, this week's report is the first to track corn-silking progress, which stands at two percent, half of the average pace for this week. For soybeans, 91% of the crop has been planted, a seven-percent jump from the previous week, but still five percent behind the average pace.

Winter wheat heading and conditions are both slightly behind what's typical for this point in the summer. Harvest progress, which has been delayed by showers in the Plains states, is 10% behind the normal pace at 22%.

"The worst of the weather damage is probably past. There is no question that grain production will be reduced because of the excess rainfall in key areas. Whether current prices have adequately compensated for the change in fundamental is the question that marketers must judge," Smith said late last week. "From Ames to Dubuque there were large areas of poorly drained soils where the crops were flooded out. Crops that were still standing had obviously been plated late because they were very small. From Waterloo to the Mississippi River, even the fields where most of the crops were still standing were very yellow.

"Apparently the moisture took the nitrogen out of reach of the roots or plants were oxygen starved."

In other areas where excessive moisture and flooding haven't been immediate threats to crop conditions, fields are looking better. While it's seen some severe weather, Agriculture Online Crop Talk member frankne says his area of northern Nebraska will raise a crop despite planting delays.

On the other side of the Mississippi River, corn in parts of central Illinois is maturing at normal levels, as Agriculture Online Markets Editor Mike McGinnis found in this field in McLean County, Illinois, on Sunday.

Looking ahead, Midwest weather patterns ahead could further complicate conditions for corn and soybeans struggling to catch up, as well as cloud estimates of just how much of the crops are left standing in the field. Weather forecasts show just scattered showers amidst predominantly dry conditions over the next week or so, but the tone changes in the longer-term outlook.

"The pattern is turning wet again. The models are keeping the Corn Belt very wet over the next few weeks. The final outcome of this additional moisture will be variable," says Allen Motew, ag meteorologist with QT Weather in Chicago, Illinois. "Estimates of 'damaged acreage' may increase but it may be because of additional flooding or problems associated with having gotten too much of the crop in too late. Will the Great Floods of 2008 have many asterisks after the statistics saying how the 'damaged acres' really occurred? To traders and farmers this may not matter...but meanwhile, the acreage and yield counting goes on and will not be fully realized until after the crop is harvested in the fall."


Monday's USDA Crop Progress report shows there's no reason to count out the nation's corn and soybean crops just yet.