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Corn, soybean yield hole deepens -- USDA

Jeff Caldwell 07/23/2012 @ 3:15pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The decline in corn and soybean conditions continues, showing the drought of 2012 seemingly has no intentions of loosening its grip on this year's crops.

Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report shows that as of Sunday, only 26% of the nation's corn crop is rated in either the good or excellent category. Meanwhile, just shy of half -- 45% -- of the crop is rated very poor or poor. That's a 7% increase in the number of acres that could be near the end of the line for this year.

Soybean conditions remain slightly better than corn, but not much; as of Sunday, 31% of the bean crop is rated good to excellent, while 35% is rated very poor or poor, according to USDA.

Looking ahead, the good news is a good chunk of the U.S. corn crop could see rainfall over the next few days. How much and whether or not that rain does the crop -- the majority of which has already pollinated under severe drought stress -- any good remain big question marks. And, beyond a few more rainfall chances over the next few days, the tap will likely run dry again, according to a report Monday from QT Weather in Chicago.

"Near term 'ridge topping' will be seen from SD to NY and across parts of IA, IL, IN, OH and KY," according to QT Weather. "0.50-1+ inch rains will reach 40% of the nation’s soybean crop over the next 5 days."

The report continues: "Near term rain relief is on the way for a large portion of the nation’s soybean crop, but the

longer range outlook, covering August, is for more widespread drying and more above normal heat, this time from border to border, covering the Eastern Dakotas to the Central Gulf Coast."

This week, Agriculture.com editors are taking their own tally of projected crop yields in the Corn Belt alongside the MDA EarthSat Weather July Crop Tour. The tour started in Ohio and will move through Indiana, Illinois and Iowa before settling in Omaha, Nebraska, at the week's end. Thus far, the tour's turned up highly variable yield potential for both corn and soybeans throughout Ohio, with potential corn yields ranging from 100 to 175 bushels/acre and soybeans that could yield between 10 and 35 bu/ac.

"The heat stress is obvious in Indiana; populations seem to be better in Indiana versus Ohio, but they're still smaller than normal," says MDA EarthSat Weather senior ag meteorologist and crop tour leader Kyle Tapley. "On soybeans, in Indiana, we've seen soybeans that have potential for decent yields, but they're going to need rain to finish and overall, I think everything is average to below-average."

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