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Corn conditions drop, other crops hold steady

08/16/2010 @ 5:45pm

DJ US Crop Progress: Soybean Rating Holds Steady; Corn Slips

Tom Polansek - DJ - 58 mins ago

CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Condition ratings for U.S. soybeans held steady last week, while the corn crop deteriorated slightly as harvest grew nearer, according to a weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture report issued Monday.

The pace of development for soybeans and corn stayed ahead of average, the USDA said in its crop progress report. The spring wheat harvest, meanwhile, lagged behind the normal pace.

Soybeans

Soybeans fared better than expected last week and kept their good-to-excellent rating unchanged at 66% as of Sunday, which also was unchanged from a year earlier, according to the USDA. Analysts had expected the rating to slip last week due to stress from heat and dryness in the Mississippi.

"Crop scouts may wake up and lower it a little bit" next Monday, said Sid Love, analyst at Kropf & Love Consulting. "A slow decline like this, if it continues like this, would indicate to me the crop appears ok."

August is the most important month for the development of soybeans, which are planted and harvested later than corn. The good-to-excellent rating has held steady at 66% for three weeks and was 67% as of July 25.

In the key state of Iowa, the good-to-excellent rating dropped four percentage points from a week ago to 69%. Indiana's rating fell six percentage points from last week to 59%. However, ratings rose one percentage point to 64% in Illinois, two percentage points to 88% in Minnesota and two percentage points to 79% in Nebraska.

"It appears as if we have some other states pulling in the slack," Love said. "That's hard to do when you're talking about the big (soybean) states like Illinois."

Eighty-four percent of the crop was setting pods as of Sunday, up from 71% from a week ago and above the average of 81% for this time of year, according to USDA. Ninety-seven percent of the crop was blooming, up from 93% a week ago and the average of 95%.

Corn

The USDA trimmed its good-to-excellent rating for corn two percentage points from last week to 69% as of Sunday, which was still up one percentage point from the same time last year. Traders had expected the drop from last week, in part due to declining conditions in the Delta and eastern corn belt.

"Heat and too much precipitation appeared to have taken its toll in some areas of the belt," said Jon Michalscheck, analyst for Benson Quinn Commodities.

The good-to-excellent rating dropped five percentage points from last week to 60% in Indiana and two percentage points to 68% in Iowa, according to the USDA. Sixty-three percent of the crop in Illinois was good or excellent, down one percentage point on the week.

The rating "was in line with what people were looking for," Love said. "There were some that were looking for it to go down more than that. It's been down, but I think the other side of it was it was so high. It was unbelievably high."

The crop started off strong this year because of warm, dry weather that allowed farmers to plant it quickly. Weather during the growing season has stayed mostly favorable, although areas have received too much rain.

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